Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.(Colossians 3:12)
We have reached the conclusion of this series of articles on what I call “the divine dress code,” as we read it from the inspired pen of the apostle Paul in his epistle to the church at Colossae. We began by taking an extended look at the compassion our Lord commands us to wear, we moved through examinations of kindness, humility, and gentleness, and today we will look at the final wardrobe item in our divine dress code: patience.
You’ll often hear someone say, “You saved the best for last!” Well, I can only say that I believe Paul saved the most difficult command for last, and I’m sure most readers will agree! Patience is rarely a problem for us when the sky is blue, the clouds fleecy, and the sun brightly shining. But when the storm winds begin to blow, we often find ourselves running out of patience very quickly. And for many of us, that “storm” need not be particularly strong to knock us completely off our precarious perch of patience. It might be nothing more than a traffic jam, a long checkout line, or a whiny child, but many of us are all too quickly transformed into impatient, irritable people by even the smallest thing that runs counter to our preferences.
The cure for our sinful impatience is to remember that biblical patience is not exhibiting some kind of passive tolerance in the face of difficulties. When the Bible tells us to “run with patience the race set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 KJV), we can clearly see that sacred Scripture is not suggesting that we merely “grin and bear it.” Rather, patience is persevering and progressing toward the desired outcome God has set before us: to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.
James tells us that our trials are one of God’s ordained ways to perfect our patience (James 1:3 NKJV, KJV). We see this truth embodied in the lives of all the great biblical characters, and the reason these men and women had such great patience is because they continued trusting in and depending on God. They understood that God is in complete control of all things, even those things they did not understand, and so they continued looking to God, who would ultimately work all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). Remember that “all things” includes those things that try our patience . . . even long checkout lines!
When someone is bearing up under great difficulty, you’ll often hear it said of that person that he or she is exhibiting “the patience of Job.” You’ll recall that Job endured the unimaginable storm losing his health, his wealth, and all ten of his children; on top of all that, his wife ridiculed him and his three friends falsely accused him of wrongdoing. Yet we read that Job never sinned against God. Job did not understand what was happening to him, but he was absolutely sure his God could be trusted. You and I are all called to exhibit the faith of Job, knowing that God has promised never to leave us or forsake us. We are to echo Job’s confident assurance that “My Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth: (Job 19:25). And when that glorious day comes, you and I will be finally and fully patient, for when we see Him, we shall be like Him. As John said, “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:3).
Paul wrote that “We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:23-25). I believe if Paul was here with us today, he might simply tell us, “Be patient, brothers and sisters; God is not done with you yet!”
And so, dear believer in Christ, regardless of what you may be dealing with today, let me encourage you to put on the divine dress code of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. The more we look to Jesus, the more fully we will be clothed in His divine qualities, however imperfectly we may wear them, and the better we will show Christ to a world that desperately needs to know Him.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!