you, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, [2 timothy 3:10]
patience. this sticks out like a sore thumb to me on this list from paul. everything else seems to make sense as a core foundational aspect of paul’s proclamation of the gospel. and, paul is lauding timothy for following him instead of the ways of the false teachers. but where does patience fit in?
i actively and regularly proclaimed the gospel to a friend of mine for over five years before he was saved. and, that’s nothing compared to how long some people share the gospel with people. i can’t tell you the number of times i have given someone biblical advice that i was discipling and they paid no attention to me. and, i know for sure, i’ve ignored the teaching and counsel of others myself. sometimes it can feel like you’re banging your head against the wall. sometimes it hurts even more than that. it sure is easy to abandon the mission when it seems like it isn’t going anywhere – when it seems like you’re screaming the truth of scripture into a room full of people with headphones on.
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which i purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which i sent it. [isaiah 55:11]
God promises to fulfill his word. and, his word is the means by which he says he will accomplish his purposes in this world of salvation, redemption, and future glory. our patience fails us when we are trying to accomplish our own purposes. but if our goal is to proclaim the word of God and we have faith that he will work out his purpose through that word, then time is irrelevant. we can endure unfathomable stretches of time watering the dry ground of the desert when we know God is going to bring forth the growth that he desires in the time that he desires it.
but, all of that seems like a pipe dream unless the word of God is bringing growth in your own life and heart. of course, we will have no patience with others if we have no experience with God’s timing in our own lives.
God please bring forth your purpose in my life, so that i may be reminded of your patience with me, your faithfulness to fulfill your promises, and ultimately, may it bring glory to you through my growth.
~ keith kozlowski