Jesus, Example of Patience (1/5)

"But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love." (2 Peter 1.5-7). This list of what has frequently been styled as the "Christian Graces" reflects attributes that were certainly prominent in the life of Jesus. This particular miniseries will focus on the trait of perseverance (or patience as it is more commonly translated).

One common source of Greek definitions has the following to say regarding the word usually translated "patience": [I]n the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings." Sometimes we see patience as having little or nothing to do with constancy. However, the word inherently has to do with continuing on a chosen path or in a right direction. A man who compromises his purposes and principles cannot legitimately be said to be patient. He may endure, or more correctly tolerate lots of things, but he/she is not patient; tolerance and patience are not synonyms! No where when it comes to sin and moral issues is tolerance described in the scriptures as a virtue. One has to be careful in the use of the English language that patience and tolerance are not seen as equivalent terms. Patience is always good; tolerance is neither right nor wrong depending on the thing being tolerated.

An example of the word "patience" in the New Testament will help to further distinguish between it and tolerance. John wrote the book of Revelation and within it, there are seven short letters from Jesus to the churches of Asia. Each little epistle has its own things to say about the congregation to which it is addressed. The church of Ephesus is the first church addressed in this style. Note two complimentary and complementary phrases in Jesus' words to them. "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary." (Revelation2.2-3). The Savior praises the church for (1) being patient, and (2) for not "bearing" those who were evil! These two phrases are not contradictory; they are complementary! Patience in no way meant that they should tolerate those who were evil; rather, patience (i.e. continuance in well doing) meant that they had to refuse the teachings of those who worked to contradict truth. Patience and tolerance were not and are not synonyms!

Jesus was the model of patience in His ministry; He did not tolerate those who were bent on evil but He was infinitely patient with those whose hearts and minds were honestly mistaken about spiritual matters. In this miniseries, we will explore some occasions where Jesus demonstrated this exemplary trait of patience; we will also see how He reacted when the motives of detractors were impure. Jesus was patient and He expects us to be the same.

"Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus…" (Romans 15.5).