Summary: God is patience with us. The motivation for patience is the redemption of man. We bear the fruit of patience when we (1) trust God's timing, (2) see the big picture, and (3) use our wait wisely.
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Let me read to you this parable by Jesus - Matt 18:21-33 [parable of the unmerciful servant].
God is a patient. God is patient with us. He is described as “slow to anger” many times in the OT. The motivation for His patience is the redemption of man.
• Jesus demonstrated exceptional patience. For a man who is righteous and all-wise, it is quite amazing to find Jesus, surrounded by people who were spiritually ignorant and slow in understanding, not to lose His cool.
• For the most part of the Gospel accounts, the disciples were found to be lacking in understanding, slow to believe, self-centred and foolish.
• Yet Jesus bears with their shortcomings and imperfections.
Why was He so patient?
(1) Jesus did not see time as an essence (why the hurry?), and
(2) Jesus knows that the Father’s purpose was still intact. Everything was moving along well, and God’s plan was still on track.
The disciples needed room to grow; they needed time to comprehend. Some things cannot be rushed.
• You hardly see Jesus in a hurry, even though He has only three years to train up His disciples.
• In fact, on one occasion, He delayed His trip on purpose when He heard of Lazarus’ death. The motivation for patience is the purpose of God.
Today, we live a fast-paced, production-line type of lifestyle. We want things to be churned out quickly and orderly, and keeping the same quality.
• We go for fast food, quick fix, express ways, prompt service, rapid transit and instant noodles.
• If possible, we want a shortcut to spiritual growth, we want to mass-produce disciples.
• Yet we know that this cannot be true. Relationship takes time. This is the number one test that Pastor Chip Ingram highlighted.
Jesus speaks of the spiritual life in agricultural terms – it is about the vine and the branches, the tree and its fruit, the seed and its crops.
• It cannot be rushed, and there is no shortcut to it. There is nothing a farmer can do to speed up the harvest.
• Discipling a life, mentoring a life, parenting a life, takes time. There is no overnight magical sprouting of children. We need to give it or give them time.
Let us learn from Jesus in at least these THREE ways:
(1) TRUST GOD’S TIMING
• Time works for Him, not against Him. We tend to view time as working against us – ‘we’ve not enough time; we’re running out of time, time is not on our side.’
• To God, “a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (3:8)
The NT uses two Greek words for time – chronos (length) and kairos (right moment).
• Both are in God’s hands - for how long and at what time. We can be patient because time is on God’s side, and God makes everything beautiful in His time
• Look at Israel’s experience in the wilderness journey - Num 9:15-23 [read]
• What an amazing experience that was, to be able to SEE and MOVE at God’s pace.
(2) SEE THE BIG PICTURE (that is, God’s purpose)
We are impatient because we are afraid things will be messed up.
• But in what sense are they messed up? In our sense; that is, according to our way, our plan, and our time.
• We are impatient because we expect God to act according to our agenda.
• “Why are you late?” Martha asked Jesus. “If you are earlier, Lazarus might not have died.” She had a plan in mind, but so did Jesus. And they were different.
2 Pet 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
• If you understand His purpose, if you can just see the BIG PICTURE, then you will not be so impatient with God.
• In our vastly limited vision God seems slow, but in reality, He is keeping perfect timing. There is a purpose for the apparent “delay” and it is good.
• Martha and Mary got to see it first hand, when Lazarus walked out of the tomb. God’s delays are not necessarily God’s denials. He just does things differently!