Day 20: We’re Chosen To Fellowship Together – By Being Patient With Each Other

Point to Ponder: The more we understand, the more patient we become.
Verse to Remember: “Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” — Ephesians 4:2b (NLT)
Question to Consider: How can you become more patient with the people in your life?
[Read More] thoughts on Day 20 of Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community, including my understanding of “story.”

I occasionally wonder whether other people are as impressed with Rick Warren as I am (short answer: yes, given his book sales :-). In particular, I was both convicted and encouraged by today’s pithy observation linking understanding and patience, at a fairly profound level.

It has often occurred to me that it is not what people do, but the stories we create about why they do it, that determines our reaction to them. For example, we may think someone rude who bumps into us on a sidewalk without apology, only to feel ashamed of our ire when we see them running towards a hurt child in the street. In fact, that’s on my definitions of “story” — a casual chain of choices and consequences concerning characters we care about.. In this view, we implicitly (often subconsciously) make up stories both to explain others actions, and to justify our own. If we don’t like the implications, we’ll usually revise assumptions and interpretations (and maybe even perceived facts) until we have a story we like.

That may be why I was so struck by today’s lesson. In effect, God is telling me that I no longer have the right to tell myself stories that justify my impatience with others. Rather, I need to keep digging deeper into the other person’s backstory — as well as my own — until I finally get face to face with how God has been as patient with me as I need to be with them.


Prayer: God, you set a high standard of patience to live up to. I know my own brokenness and fear makes it hard — well, impossible — for me to generate enough energy and magnanimity when I feel wounded or cheated by others actions. Even, or perhaps especially, with those I love. Father, fill me with your Holy Spirit. Transform my mind, heart, soul, and strength to make me into a man who understands others weaknesses and finitude the way you understand mine. And out of that understanding, help me to work for the furtherance of your kingdom, rather than the protection of my own. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Amusing end note: I am writing this on the flight back to Sacramento, after visiting Chicago for the launch of Tiger, our new operating system release. The spell checker complained about “finitude”, so I decided to use the new Dictionary feature to ensure I was using it correctly. Not only was my spelling correct, but their canonical example validated my context. How about that? Maybe I’m not the only one who wrestles with this…

noun formal
the state of having limits or bounds : one quickly senses the finitude of his patience.