Here I am toe-tapping again, my silent protest to waiting. My body weight shifts every few minutes as I check my watch and tap some more. I can feel the stress engulf me like a balloon pumped with air until the surface is taut.

When we wait for others, it is all about us. How we are inconvenienced, how far behind our schedule is falling, how time is wasted. But in God’s eyes, we are called to abandon our own pace, agenda, abilities, strengths and desires in order to yield to others. It is a practical and challenging manifestation of preferring one another.

In our struggle to wait for one another (1 Cor. 11:33), we encounter an ugly vice called impatience, a close relative of selfishness. We are sorely tempted with impatience when faced with delay. We just don’t want to slow down. However, the godly approach is patience, a virtue that helps define what love is. (1 Cor. 13:4) Patience is also a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) and should be evenly applied. Furthermore, we cannot pick and choose with whom we will be patient. (1 Thes. 5:14)

Clearly, we all have weaknesses that at some point cause others to wait for us.  We may be called on to wait for others physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

We all function at different levels depending on our speed, capacity, physical limitations and endurance. Some people are slow and deliberate, others fast and decisive, often just a function of how God made us. Some of us multi-task with ease. Others enjoy focusing on a single project in great depth. We can be limited by physical challenges including age, handicaps, sickness and just our general physical capabilities. This applies to our capacity for endurance as well. For some of us, a business trip can be exhausting; for others, it is just another work day.

Emotional struggles involving hurts and fears can also affect our efficiency. After a hurtful divorce, a person may be reticent to pursue another close relationship.  A child who is afraid of the dark may need us to stay with him, postponing our own agenda. In general, personality types can affect who waits on whom.  People who are more aggressive, extroverted and adventurous may be called upon to wait for those who are shy, reticent and cautious.

Mentally we wait for each based on both our mental capacity and our strengths and weaknesses. We are born with different intelligences that affect our ability to reason, memorize and learn. In certain areas we may excel while we struggle in other areas. I may have to wait for you to complete mathematical tasks, while you show me patience trying to read a map.

Spiritually we differ as well. We all experience different levels of spiritual zeal, passion and even faith. (Rom. 12:3; 14:1) When others sin, we may also be called upon to wait for repentance and changed behavior. Consider the patience of God relative to our waywardness. “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

Regardless of our strengths and weaknesses, we are all indispensable in God’s eyes.(1 Cor. 12:22) As we learn to accept this truth, it becomes apparent that how we respond to the weaker members is very important to God and an indication of how the love of God is being poured out through our lives.

 “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” (Rom 15:1)

Don McMinn, Ph.D. (with Kimberly Spring)
Executive Director of
The 11th Commandment: More Insights into the One Anothers of Scripture

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