Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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Patience:  Preached or Practiced

Have you ever prayed for patience? Are you really sure you want it? Somebody said patience is something you admire in the driver behind you, but not in the one ahead. How is it that so many of us manage to get caught behind the slowest driver in the world, or in the slowest lane at Walmart?! Patience is a frequent Bible topic, occurring 34 times in the New Testament, and the word patient occurs 9 times (KJV). Two Greek words closely connected with patience in the New Testament are hupomeno (pronounced hoop-om-en'-o) and hupomone [pronounced hoop-om-on-ayl According to Strong's Concordance, the idea behind these very closely related words is literally, "to stay under" (as in bearing a burden or putting up with a test or trial), and also, "to tarry behind" (as in biding your time while circumstances play out [(Allen Webster in House to House, Heart to Hart newsletter]).. Hebrews 10:32 says concerning some early Christians: But recall the former days in which... you endured a great struggle with sufferings." The word "endured" in this verse is hupomeno. Those being addressed had, as we say, "hung in there" and stayed in or under the sufferings mentioned until they had, at last, outlasted them! Then we read in vs 36: "For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise." The KJV renders verse 36: "For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise." The Greek word for "endurance" or "patience" in this vs is hupomone. The patience under consideration in these verses is not passive and weak but active and powerful! Those who possess this patience are not weak victims of circumstance but powerful victors in circumstance! They maintain a tenacious, Christ-like stick-to-it-iveness that won't give up or cave in or bail out or let go of the will of God even when pressures and problems and stress and strain and work and worry pile in. The apostle Paul knew all about troubles, yet directed Christians to be "patient in tribulation" (Romans 12:12).

Martin E. Pike, a Texas preacher, reminds us patience is easier preached than practiced. He wrote:  Three minutes had elapsed since I had taken my seat at the counter. Waitresses passed me by; two cooks and a busboy took no notice of my presence. My ego was soothed only because the truck driver seated next to me was ignored as well. "Maybe this counter is off limits," I said to him. "Maybe they are short of help," he responded. "Maybe they don't want our business," I said. "Maybe they are taking care of those at the table," was his reply. The hands on the clock continued to move. "Maybe they don't like us," I insisted. "The air-conditioning feels good, so I don't mind waiting," he said. At this point a harried waitress stopped to tell us that the water had been cut off and the dishwasher was not functioning. My nameless compatriot smiled, thanked the waitress, and left. I did not like him. Three times I had sought his support for my obnoxious attitude, but he had let me down. Only later did I realize that he had chosen to practice what I preach. (From a devotional publication entitled "The Upper Room," February 14, 1996) What's that? Did I hear you say, "Ouch?" Or was it just my own conscience?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ