2 Corinthians 6:4-10
4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
6 By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;
9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
Today lets get into the list of the descriptors of ministers of God we are given in 2 Corinthians 6:4-10. First of all, notice that they come in three ways, “In,” “By,” and “As.” This is interesting how the apostle uses these adverbs; he is describing our relationship to different characteristics or situations. Let’s begin with the first “In”; In much patience. The adverb definition of “in” is: expressing the situation of being enclosed or surrounded by something. Patience is defined as: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. This is a huge subject that we could spend a lot of time discussing. Notice also, that he says, Much patience. This is important to notice, and it is the first item listed, suggesting that it will be beneficial to meditate deeply on this point.
The Christian life is to be marked by a patient attitude that is exceeding abundant and can be seen and felt by those around us. In times of stress and heightened emotion, the saint of God should be composed and drawn into a conversation with the Father in expression of trust in His goodness and His greater understanding of our situation and what needs to be done. These times of trouble are the testing ground for our patience in the Lord. Romans 5:3-5, 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. As we go through troublous times trusting in God we learn and develop our ability to have patience. God calls us to be patient because impatience is dangerous and can have disastrous effects on the life of a believer, and a non-believer for that matter. When we make rash decisions in the midst of an emotional situation we will more than likely not make wise choices and when we forget to prayerfully consider what God’s Word has to say about the matter we show a lack of Godly patience.
Also, God wants us to be patient because He is supremely patient. His judgment is never clouded by emotion or an unwillingness to wait for the proper timing. Another word in the Scriptures that is similar to patience is longsuffering. The first time longsuffering is used in the Bible is describing the LORD in Exodus 34:6, And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. In fact every time the word longsuffering is used in the Old Testament it is describing the LORD. Psalm 86:15, 15 But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. So we know that God is longsuffering and patient with us and He calls us to be longsuffering and patient with others.
Longsuffering is different from patience though in that it has a connotation of enduring wrongdoing or sin of others, and God obviously has no sin, so I wouldn’t say that we longsuffer with God, but we do need to learn patience with God and His timing. Psalm 27:14, Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
Waiting and patience can be very difficult in our modern world. We have become so accustomed to getting what we want immediately that it can be seemingly impossible to patiently trust in the Lord. Matthew 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Without God, having a consistent mindset of patience is indeed impossible. Whether we are suffering emotional torment, anxiety, or confusion, or if our ministry efforts seem to be fruitless we must through the power of the Holy Spirit of God learn to have much patience in times of trouble and doubt. We simply cannot exemplify Godly patience without God’s help, it is a fruit of the Spirit and therefore we must be filled with the Spirit to enjoy the benefits of having true, lasting patience. Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. If you are a saved, born again believer, you belong to Christ. Impatience is truly a lust of the flesh and remember, you have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
God is truly patient and longsuffering, for us to be the same we must receive the ability from Him through His Spirit that indwells us. The best ways to learn patience is through times of trouble, trusting in the Lord, also, through prayer and fasting, through Bible reading and memorization and by being in church and in fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Romans 15:5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: