Americans lack patience. Big time.
A prime example: our frustration with our smartphones when they take too long to process information — information which, by the way, travels to and from satellites orbiting the planet! Comedian Louis CK famously mocked impatient cellphone users by asking, “It’s going to space! Can you give it a few seconds to get back from space?!”
He makes a good point. We need more patience. Sometimes, however, we need less.
Our can’t-wait-a-few-seconds urgency is often misapplied. We have no patience when we should and plenty of patience when we shouldn’t. Patience, therefore, is not always a virtue as we have come to believe. Sometimes it is a vice.
Following are three examples in Scripture where the Lord required urgency and not patience:
- When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city” (Gen. 19:15).
- When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house” (Luke 19:5).
- [Ananias said to Saul,] “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16).
What if Lot had waited? He would have been destroyed in the fire God rained on Sodom and Gomorrah. Zaccheus? He would have missed a life-altering visit with Jesus. Paul? He may have found no one else willing to baptize him.
In life, as in the Bible, patience can be a problem. Like when we’ve allowed a persistent sin to control us for years and we refuse to take drastic measures to eliminate it. Or when a brother or sister in Christ falls away and we do nothing to save them. Or when we know we need to get baptized but keep waiting until we get our act together first.
In circumstances like these, patience hinders instead of helps. The longer we wait to deal with sin or to reach out to a rebellious disciple or to become a Christian, the worse the situation becomes. The earlier we act, the better.
Analyze your life to see where you’ve allowed patience to replace the action God wants you to take now. Get rid of that patience. And don’t a virtue; call it what it is: a vice.