Matthew 17:17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.”
I was being hard on myself recently about my lack of patience with people. I was in a place where I was trying to help. I was even asked for help and advice. Yet after spending time with the people I was helping, they never used what I coached them to use. For the most part, it is selfish of me to get a charge out of helping someone when he/she uses my advice. It is especially selfish when I do so in order to gain my own glory. However, the situation that tries my patience the most is when I feel I was Spirit-led and had no motive beyond help. It is here where I really have to drill down and look at whether or not I have a right to be impatient.
Sometimes, I truly feel like Jesus did in the above verse. The people He was teaching and leading just were not getting why He was here. All the people were wanting was something for them. And, His disciples were just not getting this faith thing. Jesus had been with them for some time. He had taught them, mentored them, and they still did not get it. I gain great comfort through reading about Jesus being human and frustrated.
What this tells me is that there are times where my impatience and frustration are valid and even warranted. Jesus lived as the perfect man…the second Adam. Jesus was what God intended for humankind to be like. Yet, Jesus did and said things that make us church people uncomfortable. How can Jesus say, “How long shall I put up with you?” Jesus could because He was human. But notice that Jesus did not do what I and many others do when frustrated and impatient. Jesus did not belittle, use sarcasm, resent, throw a tantrum, or disengage. He still healed the boy. Afterward, He explained to His disciples why they were unsuccessful in healing the boy. Jesus expressed His emotion, was clear about it, and continued on.
So what do I learn from Jesus’ example? First of all, I must ask myself, “Why am I impatient and frustrated in this moment?” Is it because I want glory? If so, then I am serving with the wrong motive and I need to check myself and move in a different direction. If I am serving due to a nudge from the Spirit to generally help, then I can give myself grace when I become frustrated with the lack of action.
Again, Jesus was our example of humankind. I am allowed a certain amount of emotional outburst within the confines of control. I am allowed to be frustrated that what I advised was not used. What I have to watch for is how I react beyond the frustration. Am I sarcastic, belittling, resentful, or checked out? If I am taking part in this behavior, then I have gone beyond the bounds that Jesus showed me. In short, can I be good with the Spirit led me here, I spoke, and the rest is up to the one I attempted to help? The big challenge for me is to not only be good with myself around this but to also avoid the negative follow-up that could arise. I can be human, but no inhumane.
1. What tests your patience the most?
2. When you are asked to help and then the person you’re helping does nothing you suggest, how do you react?
3. What is your go to reaction beyond impatience and frustration (resentment, sarcasm, belittling, manipulation, and/or disengagement, something else)?
4. What can you learn from Jesus in this area?
5. Pay attention this week to why you give advice or help. Is it Spirit-led, or is it selfish motivation? Ask God to reveal to you what He wants you to see and hear in this area of your life.
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