Parts 1 and 2, in this series about what matters most to God in a disciple, focused on a very challenging reality: For a person who places their faith in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior from “the wages of sin,” following God means much more than learning about Him and skillfully studying the Bible.
In fact, the disciple who focuses only on growing in knowledge and skill will fail sooner or later. Formula: Knowledge + Skill – Character => Failure.
1 Corinthians 13 identifies what matters most to God: A true follower of God reflects His love as a lifestyle. That love reflects outward in Christlike character. This is the light that Jesus welcomes in Matthew 5:14–16: “You are the light of the world . . . Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
This is also the highest form of worship that a disciple can offer to God. It is the offering of that disciple’s heart and lifestyle to Him. Knowledge + Skill + Character => Worship!
As a light beam refracts when passing through a glass prism, God’s love beams into the heart of a disciple and reflects outward to others in various “colors” that comprise a “spectrum of love.” Those colors are qualities of Christlike character.
“I should be patient with whom?” you may ask. Answer: With others, of course. But—as arrogant as it is to do otherwise—we must also be reverently patient with God. Let’s ponder these briefly.
Godlike patience with others includes, but exceeds, letting another car cut in front of us on the freeway or slowing our walk to fit the pace of an older or younger companion. It means responding mildly, with self-control, when someone challenges our opinions or acts other than the way we prefer. It means we are habitually slow to get angry with someone, or to resent them.
Godlike patience also means that we are slow to punish. If we are in a position requiring us to enforce consequences for someone’s wrong behavior, we discipline ourselves to do that responsibly, not impulsively or angrily. Interestingly, God led Peter to use that same Greek word for “patient” in 2 Peter 3:9 as he describes God’s patience toward us. And aren’t we thankful!
Some tests of our patience may be more severe. What if someone maliciously and intentionally offends us, provokes us, or somehow harms us? Godlike love endures it. Paul shares his pilgrimage and patient endurance in 1 Corinthians 4:11–13.
What’s more, James 1:2–4 challenges us to accept such trials with joy. Wow—we do not see that kind of response in popular movies. Yet Christ Himself is our example (Hebrews 12:1–3). He patiently ran His race. He did not lose heart along the way. He knew the joy that was coming.
Looking upward, we who follow God must be reverent and patient with God. Like Job, we feel frustrated when our prayers are not answered as we wish and when we wish. How ridiculous and rebellious is that attitude toward our almighty, all-knowing, and loving God?! We honor Him when we discipline ourselves to cultivate deferred gratification—wait patiently for His answer.
Do you want to honor Him and do what matters most to Him? I do. Let’s run our race patiently. Let’s not lose heart. Let’s let our light shine even brighter by trusting and resting in Him. His Spirit will then bless us with more of His patience.
Thank you for continuing this journey into what matters most to God about a disciple.
© 2018 John C Garmo