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Patience – Godly Quality or Euphemism?

Patience is defined as “enduring, able to bear up under.” The Greeks of old had a belief that the Earth was held up by a Greek god named Atlas. This was in contradiction to what the Bible said about the subject, “…the earth hangeth upon nothing” (Job 26:7). However, we can understand how difficult it would be for a man to hold the earth on his shoulders. That is being “able to bear up under”. The actual meaning of patience is much more meaningful because it applies to spiritual things.

When almost everything was taken from Job, he was able to continue with his faith in God without cursing God and dying as his wife suggested. Patience – that godly quality of godly character that allows us to move forward in a course of action without losing faith or hope. Everyone appreciates a patient person who, when things get tough, can keep going despite the difficulties or even consequences to their actions. It is interesting that the quality of patience is viewed so highly that even impatient people want those around them to be patient.

However, patience has come to mean something totally different to some brethren these days. To define this I will illustrate. I was worshiping at a congregation where false doctrine was being taught in the bible classes such as drinking alcohol (as long as it is in the privacy of one’s home), gambling and you must use the words thee and thou or you are going to hell. After approximately a year I publicly questioned the preacher after a sermon one Lord’s day. We left this congregation receiving no scriptural answer. It was suggested that I didn’t have the proper patience that I should have. The interesting thing is that the brethren who taught false doctrine on alcohol and gambling are still there with no call to repentance. Therefore, patience has become a euphemism.

A euphemism is defined as the substitution of an agreeable word for an offensive one. For example, “sleeping with” is used to refer to sexual immorality. Sleeping of course, is not the act that is being talked about. Neither is being patient what some brethren mean when they use the term. What they say is patience. What they really mean is tolerance! 2 Thessalonians 3:6 says that we must withdraw ourselves from every brother who walks disorderly. Romans 16:17 also says that we must mark them which cause divisions. Ephesians 5:11 tells us that we must not have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose/reprove them. What many brethren call patience actually translates to not dealing with sin. Be patient and don’t expose the unfruitful works. Don’t mark or withdraw from anyone because of their sin. Of course, their brand of patience doesn’t apply to those who publicly disagree with false doctrine. This is really not patience. Patience is never an excuse to overlook sin.

Patience is a godly quality of godly character. Patient people understand there is a difference between patience and dealing with sin. They are congruent. They must both be part of a Christian’s life.  What about you?