Our church has a really good Bible institute. The new pastor does most of the teaching, and he’s excellent. The transition from our previous pastor (who was my son, a U.S. citizen raised in Chile) to our present one, who is Brazilian, has been colorful and fun. Who would have thought in a congregation in the town of Quilpué, Chile we would have our own little melting pot of cultures?
I love our versatility and what it brings to the table.
A few months ago, Pastor Ider (who does not dance samba, in case you were wondering) asked us all to fill out a form and tell him where we would like to serve in the church. I have done just about everything (I call it being Mentholatum) except serve as an elder or a pastor, so it took some thinking. After careful contemplation, much to my surprise, I discovered what I most wanted to do was teach in the Bible institute. What I didn’t expect is that Ider would have taken me up on it.
I taught my debut class last Saturday.
My class encompassed Colossians 1:9-14, just six little verses. Which, by the way, grew to humongous proportions in my mind, driving me to conclude that since I had made a world out of half a dozen verses, who was I to think I could teach a full course? Self-doubt still pummels me over that one. But I did the class. And I loved doing it. Don’t know when it will happen again. I’m still waiting for a full-blown evaluation.
I found some nuggets to share here since my posts have been about God’s attributes. Paul mentioned two of them in the passage. Yes, he referred to the Colossians and how they should have them. But they are God’s communicable and transferable characteristics. If you have been following me, you know this means they are characteristics He has in plenitude, perfectly, and without limit, but has shared them with us. We, of course, have them imperfectly and with all kinds of limits.
Truth be told, we’re kind of a mess.
It is a head-shaker how much He has done and continues to do for us. Paul talks about patience and longsuffering as responses to circumstances and people surrounding said circumstances or just in our routine life.
The Greek word for patience in this particular passage and in most others is hupomonē or hypomone. This is a special kind of patience. It doesn’t mean you just bow your head, cringe, grit your teeth, and let the waves of circumstances wash over you while you hope and pray you don’t get sucked into the undertow.
It’s the ability to not only hang in there, but the capacity to change difficult and overwhelming situations into something glorious. To God’s glory.
It is a conquering patience, the kind that triumphantly faces anything that we come up against or comes up against us. It is patience with joy and hope. You already know why.
It’s because we wait on Him who is in control and knows the bottom line in every circumstance and situation.
Longsuffering, on the other hand, (although a kind of patience) is makrothyméō, meaning long-tempered. You could think of someone with a long fuse. It has everything to do with having patience with people. It is the mental and heart ability to handle, put up with, be patient with, love without becoming bitter or getting irritated with people who are pains, mean, and cruel. Their lack of love doesn’t diminish ours, we don’t get desperate when they do things that are off the wall bad choices, and their foolishness doesn’t exasperate us. Makrothyméō is the spirit that never loses patience with people or stops believing in or hoping for them. Oh man!
I need more makrothyméō in my life, people!!
Can you imagine if God would have simply given up on mankind because we are pains, mean, cruel, and oh yes, rebellious? True, His patience has to do with our salvation, our sanctification, and His purposes. You read in Scripture where eventually his forbearance does come to an end and He disciplines, but He does so to make the rebellious come to our senses and turn back to Him. Nothing random or merely reactionary and His responses. It is for a purpose not because He loses control and lashes out. But have you read in the Bible how many times when people turn back to Him and repent, that He starts the process all over again? Gives them a second chance, even knowing He will once again be disappointed.
It’s the epitome of patience and longsuffering. It’s what makes it clear He’s God, and we’re not.
Life is hard, folks. We are in this together. But…His word does command us to support one another, to forbear (have a long fuse), and have patience with one another.
If we ask for it, God gives it. Am I brave enough to do it?
How about you? Do you need more hypomone and makrothyméō in regards to circumstances and people?? I appreciate your thoughts and insights.