The God of Speed
We are living in the age of instantaneous everything. The faster the better! Technologies continue to improve and get faster. I sat down the other day with an older laptop computer of mine (only 5 years old) and found myself irritated that it was taking so long to boot up, and then again to open programs. It was state of the art at the time I purchased it and I’m sure I was impressed at the time with its speed. But by today’s standard, it was slow! I even find myself getting impatient as I wait in front of the microwave for my popcorn to pop!
We have become so ingrained with the need for speed and instant gratification of every need, desire, and appetite. But yet, God tells us in His word that we are to be a people characterized by patience and the ability to be longsuffering (Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12; 1 Cor. 13:4). The word that the Lord uses most often in the Bible for patience is one that means to endure when circumstances are difficult. Not the idea of complacency because I can’t do anything about it, but rather the picture of the runner on the track or the Marine on the battlefield persevering through (Rom. 5:3-4). Longsuffering, on the other hand, is a word that describes our interaction with people. Do you get irritated with someone who pulls out in front of you on the road? By the way, Road Rage is a major problem in today’s world! This word for longsuffering is one that describes the concept of self restraint—resisting the urge to retaliate or seek revenge! Literally, the word means “long tempered.”
The beauty of this characteristic is that it allows us to put up with the circumstances around us! Paul tells the Ephesians (4:2), “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3 NKJV That means putting up with one another in love.
God teaches us longsuffering and patience through troubles, difficulties and tribulations. Years ago when God was working on me and calling me to the ministry, I argued with Him much as did Moses. “Who, me?” I did not feel that I possessed the characteristics necessary to be His under-shepherd. I essentially told Him, “for one thing, I don’t have the patience to do this! If you want me to do this, you’ll need to teach me patience!”
That’s the way most people learn, via troubles, difficulties and tribulations! And it takes time! This is not something that we learn quickly. It doesn’t come instantaneously. So, the next time you are tempted to become irritated or frustrated because someone pulled out in front of you, or the inefficiencies of life happen, remember, these are not the enemy. These are those things the Lord has chosen to use as tools in our lives to teach us to be patient and longsuffering!
Pastor Jim Howard, Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church of Cedar Springs
233 S. Main St, Cedar Springs