Patience with imperfection
by Jon Walker
“Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love.” (Ephesians 4:2b NLT)
Humorist Dave Barry says, “A perfect parent is a person with excellent child-rearing theories and no actual children.”
The same could be said of a perfect world or the perfect family. Created by God and guided by his perfect instructions, there’s only one way to mess things up: People!
The fact is, living with imperfect people requires patience. And I say this as a friend, but you are one of the imperfect people who require patience! Unfortunately, I keep learning that I’m an imperfect person too.
The Bible teaches that patience is the solution for living with someone else’s imperfections. This patience is to flow from the kindness God shows us, so we’re (not so simply) following God’s love.
Colossians 3:12-13 says: “As holy people whom God has chosen and loved, be sympathetic, kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Put up with each other, and forgive each other if anyone has a complaint. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (GW)
The word translated “patience” also could be rendered “longsuffering.” Patience means putting up with one another when we’d rather lose our temper; it means forgiving one another when we’d rather hold a grudge.
It is love in action, for “love is patient.” (1 Corinthians 13:14a NIV)
In addition, patience muzzles our mouths, stopping the murmuring and complaining that so naturally flow from the human tongue. Paul says, “Let us stop criticizing each other. Instead, we should decide never to do anything that would make other Christians have doubts or lose their faith.” (Romans 14:13 GW).
With patience ruling the day, we become stronger through our differences and we develop a godly diversity in our relationships. We no longer require that everyone act and look and think exactly the same way.
Paul saw this as an exciting model of God’s Church: “Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with – even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.” (Romans 14:1 MSG)
Patience and a critical spirit are mutually exclusive – Even when your complaints are justified, patience pushes and pulls you toward forgiving and forgetting: “A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11 NIV)
You are imperfect – Living with an imperfect person requires patience. You, my friend, are an imperfect person, and there are some people who require patience to live with you! (Think about who they are and thank them today.)
Let love lead – “Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:14 LB) How open are you to other believers who don’t see things the way you do?