When I first read about the 7 churches of Revelation seriously, one of the first things that stood out to me about Philadelphia was their keeping to the “word of the Lord’s patience.”
Patience is not a virtue I naturally possess, and I still seek Jesus to cultivate more patience within me.
Because of my lack of patience, patience means many things to me and I can see why patience is important in being kept from “the hour of temptation,” at least according to my interpretation of the Church of Philadelphia.
Lack of patience has tempted me to fear instead of trusting in the Lord. Instead, I should know that He is in control of all things, and since I am called according to His purposes, this means all things are working out for my good. Including hard things. Fear can tempt me to trust in man or overly rely on others. This is akin to returning to Egypt. We are to rely on Jesus and exalt Him, not Man.
Lack of patience has tempted me to burn people down with my words in an ungodly manner. This was the most difficult challenge for me, and it still is if I am not mindful. This issue goes way back. I was bullied for most of my life, in more ways than one. I could not defend myself either. I just took it. I would later think of things that I wished I had said, but I was too afraid. I lost that fear and I went to the other extreme. I could burn people down fast and I could cut them deep.
I have realized that this is stems from a lot of deeply rooted pain. I’ve had to learn to let this go, to forgive, to forge healthy boundaries with harmful people and to nurture healthy relationships. I’ve had to learn to let go of my insecurity and pride, which are two sides of the same coin, so that I could let some things roll of my back without taking it to heart.
It helps if we don’t take ourselves so seriously and realize that we are all faulty. We all need the mercy of Jesus and any good thing we have came from Him. If we can pause, accept our lowliness instead of needing to defend our egos, we can see how silly it is to get upset by others. We can then pray for them, which is good for our heart and for theirs, if the Lord will convict them.
Lack of patience has caused me to be too hard on myself because of my sin. When this happened, I would pull away from Jesus instead of drawing nearer to Him because I felt unworthy. Article writing was helpful in this because I was forced to face Him regularly and evaluate myself honestly so that I could improve my work. I also experienced how He was leading me slowly, teaching me, healing me, and embracing me with mercy when I would go through a trial, sin, and come to Him with honesty. He is so kindly disposed towards us who love Him. There is no reason to hide your sin. He knows already and He is there to help.
Lack of patience has also caused me to worry overmuch about the wicked and the corruptions within the Christian world. I have wrestled so much with this. The Lord has taught me a lot about His judgments, but these lessons were wrought in much mental, emotional, and physical pain. Though all the commandments of God hinge on loving the Lord with all your being and loving your neighbor, this is not so cut and dry as some might think.
There are personal issues to sort out and heal, first and foremost, as we learn to get the “beam out of your own eye.” Then there are things to prioritize because not all issues are as important as others. There are also temptations to deal with along the way because we naturally corrupt the judgements of God. Our carnal minds cannot know His ways because they are foolish to us, so we wrestle with them. There are also plenty of people out there who will make us feel justified in our unrighteous judgments. It is not easy. Knowing this and going through it personally, I can find more patience with my brethren.
In learning about His judgments, I also began to fear because I realized the truth of something Jesus said. He said that people do not come to the truth (or the light) because their deeds are evil. Jesus said that He came to testify to the truth, and for this cause He came into the world. He was killed for it and this world is no different today. So, I also need to learn more patience in dealing with the troubles that will come from testifying to the truth, knowing that Jesus endured all things first and He will make a way for us to endure also.
He will also return and deal with our enemies. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promises.” 2 Peter 3 is another good bit of scripture about the Lord’s patience.
I don’t know if I interpret “the word of my patience” properly, but this is an idea that I highly value in more ways than one. As someone who has greatly lacked patience and has seen the Lord work, I want to encourage anyone who has trouble in this area.
It is with patient endurance that we receive from the Lord, so keep seeking Him. Do not give up!