But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.
For something to be ‘perfect’ it has to be 100%, it has to be complete. So for patience to work you need to let it work till it’s complete—all 100% of it. You can’t decide half way through ‘Well, this just isn’t working, let me try it MY way.’
Have you ever thought that maybe we actually decide what we want to be patient about? I mean, I would say I have immense patience when patients at work ‘push’ me to a limit. Or when waiting for public transport or queuing up to order a delicious chocolate soufflé at Max Brenner. At those times, I’m patient.
But after getting frustrated with myself for things I personally did, I realised I have patience with others but it turned out I had no patience with myself.
Here I am, trying to learn to be a better person—for myself and for those close to me. And I’m getting frustrated that I stuffed up—over and over and over again.
It’s important to put people before ‘things’—we need to invest our patience in people that build us up and help us grow. If there are three things we need to prioritise when being patient it’s the following—and this is where patience has her perfect work:
So many verses in the Bible talk about ‘patiently waiting’ on the Lord. When we seek God, we are practising patience because seeking God means praying, worshipping, reading our Bibles. When seeking God we are finding Him. We are looking for Him. It’s like playing ‘Hide and Seek’—when you go looking for someone, you may have looked around the bedroom multiple times but couldn’t find that person anywhere, so you start to wonder: ‘Well, I’ve looked everywhere else, where are they?’ Turns out they were in that bedroom under the bed the whole time.
God doesn’t hide from you because He’s already there. He’s just waiting for you to look under the bed but it takes patience to go into that room three or four times before realising where He actually is.
You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13ESV
Be patient and wait for the Lord to act; don’t be worried about those who prosper or those who succeed in their evil plans. Psalm 37:7GNT
We need to allow ourselves to YES, make mistakes if they happen. But also give ourselves time to create new and improved habits. And that’s where patience with ourselves comes in. I’m a culprit here… *raises hand*. I tend to be quite hard on myself when mistakes happen because in my head I believe you don’t have to make mistakes to learn. And although that is true to some degree, there will be days when it will happen. And when it does that’s where we overcome and put that patience to work—the patience that God has given us. That is called HIS grace. Because even though we fail, His grace is sufficient for us.
But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9NIV
Because even though we fail, His grace is sufficient for us
Best way to test whether we have been patient with ourselves is our patience with others. Again, in some cases I can attest to this. It’s easy to be short-tempered. But we can’t let that be an excuse. And chances are, the people that you encounter are probably frustrated that they let themselves or others down. Instead, be that example and show them what patience with yourself looks like. To love your neighbour is to demonstrate patience. Because love is patient.
‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these. Mark 12:31GWT
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.
1 Corinthians 13:4ESV
So next time you’re frustrated, angry, irritated, and confused—say to yourself: ‘No, I’m going to practice patience.’ And say that over and over again. As the saying goes, patience is a virtue (moral excellence; goodness; righteousness.)