Weekly Church Devotion from Pastor Haydn Sennitt –
It’s funny that when most people define what evil is, most of the time they nominate wickedness that is at the high-end of the scale, like murder. Rarely will we ever say, “Well, at least I haven’t cursed someone when they cut me off in traffic”. We don’t say that because 1) we know we are guilty of doing it and 2) the lower the bar is on our bar of morality, the more we realise that we don’t even measure up to our own high standards of behaviour.
Disappointment, as I wrote last week, will often get us feeling down and out. Impatience comes from a similar place – when we cannot get what we want – however, it comes accompanied with much anger, and it frequently manifests in an outburst. While it can look somewhat comical in some instances, when observed close-up, it can be terrifying. Countless road accidents are caused by it when people won’t just wait another second or two for a break in the traffic before suddenly jumping out at an intersection. Last month in a sickening accident in Melbourne, a man accidentally drove on the other side of the road, killing himself and two other women because he was in such a mad dash.
People also get ensnared in fraudulent scams because they don’t want to get money by an honest hard day’s work but by impatience. People scream at one another with angry looks just from an attitude of impatience. We either want people to get out of ‘our’ way, or want them to hurry up and do something that we have deemed important.
Impatience is an evil we try desperately to justify. We ask, “Doesn’t anybody else understand that I really have to get to work ASAP?” (Um, did you think of scheduling your time properly and leaving your house an extra 10 minutes earlier so you wouldn’t be in such a rush?”) “Oh it’s only a short-cut here or there; nobody will notice.” (Um, they will if an audit is done.) “Well, everybody else does it. I haven’t killed anyone” (Well, the impatient driver in Melbourne did last month.) “I’ve been feeling under the weather lately and I’m so tired” (Well, so are many other people but you would hate to be on the receiving end of their aggression.)
Impatience grows, like frustration, out of the seeds of self-entitlement. We believe that the road is ours to dominate. After all, we don’t have much control over much else in our life, so we ‘reason’, so why not try to be Lord of the Universe in those little things where we can get away with being impatient? If I’m impatient on the road, there may not be a policeman to book me; if I snap at the kids and the wife, they’ll still live with me and put up with it. What’s the harm?
Our Lord Jesus never treated other this way. He got angry (Mark 3:5) and did express exacerbation with His own friends, countrymen, and enemies (e.g. Matthew 15:16, 23:27) but it was never out of impatience; it was always out of love and concern for their well-being. He also rebuked impatience (Mark 14:6, Luke 10:38-42). Paul often became very frustrated with his churches (Galatians 1:6-9, 2 Corinthians 10-13), but that’s because he passionately cared for their spiritual welfare.
Our impatience is never centred on what benefits others, but when we’re trying to make the universe yield to our timetable, our way. It leads us to use others and dispense with them (Luke 15:11-12). We cannot make things go faster just because we scream at them (Song of Solomon 2:7). Impatience is never godly and is in fact a sin that must desperately and regularly be confessed and overcome. Many in the early church were guilty of it (James 4:1-3), and I have struggled with it a lot. Proverbs 16:32 says, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city”. “A fool’s wrath is known at once” we read in Proverbs 12:16a. Let us kill impatience and seek to patiently wait, even for good things (Psalm 40:1-3):
Heavenly Father, please forgive me for being impatient, petulant, and immature. It has hurt many people, and I too have been hurt by others when they have been impatient. Please help me to break the cycle. You have been so patient with me, not giving me as my sins deserve (Exodus 34:6). You are kind, not pushing me out of the way when I sin and provoke your wrath. Please help me be patient, loving, and kind as Jesus was. In the name and authority of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.
~ God bless, Pastor Haydn.