1 Thessalonians 5:14
Now we exhort you, brothers, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
is a Divine attribute, and is repeatedly mentioned as a fruit of God's Spirit in the soul. In the text this grace as made a universal duty. It is not to be a tribute paid to the virtuous, but to all. And the man who enjoined it exercised it.
I. THE NATURE AND SOURCES OF CHRISTIAN PATIENCE.
1. In respect to personal trial patience is exercised in its lower form. Patience in labour, fatigue, pain, etc., is not easy, but it is the easiest kind of patience. When, however, we are called to have patience with others, we enter a higher and more difficult sphere of duty. Men may endure their own trials from pride, hope, native firmness, duty, etc.; but when we are required to be patient towards bad dispositions, evil conduct, etc., this is a nobler achievement and proceeds from nobler motives.
1. Patience does not imply approval of men's conduct or character, nor indifference to them. On the contrary, we must see things as they are before God; and if we refrain from attacking it must not be, construed into approbation.
2. This patience implies such benevolence and pity as shall make us tolerant, and which can only spring from that regenerated love that God works in the soul.
II. THE CONDITIONS OF ITS EXERCISE AND ITS OBJECTS. It must be exercised towards all men. To be patient with those we love is natural; but we must not stop there; nor with our own set: nor with the good even when they stumble; nor with those who hold our opinions; but also with —
1. The dull and foolish, who are very trying, especially if you are nervous and they are not; if you are mercurial and they are phlegmatic. They are in your way, and make your tasks troublesome. Nevertheless, you must be patient with them.
2. The conceited; a very hard work indeed, to submit to haughty looks and arrogant conduct.
3. The selfish and cunning, patience with whom places you at a disadvantage.
4. The rude.
5. The passionate, etc. Wherever you find a man that has the brand of God's creation upon him, and immortality for his destiny, there you find the object of this command. Do you find this hard, impossible? Then consider —
III. ITS MOTIVES.
1. It is only by having patience with men that you can retain any hold upon them. The man who is outside your pity is outside your diocese. You cannot do anything for a man you dislike, and one of the worst things that can befall a benevolent nature is to be incapacitated to do good.
2. Only in this way can we imitate Christ. "I say unto you, love your enemies," etc.
3. It is by this very patience on God's part that we ourselves are saved.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.