Time and Patience

Building the Lord’s Body Requires Time and Patience

Understanding time and the need for patience,  especially with respect to building the Lord’s  body, seems to be a mark of maturity. Young  Christians (and especially young preachers who need  seasoning) may not realize the amount of time and  patience necessary. Very often, our zeal and enthusiasm  (while a necessary quality—Titus 2:14) may rush us  into thinking that building the Lord’s body can be done  quickly, and we become impatient.

Consider the amount of time, patience, and care that God put into the scheme of redemption. When  Adam and Eve committed the first human sin in Genesis  3, Jesus did not come to die for them immediately, but  rather, a calculated plan of salvation went into effect.  This plan, which Paul described,  “According to the  eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our  Lord” (Eph. 3:11), took thousands of years to execute.  “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent  forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Gal. 4:4). The point is that God demonstrated time and  patience Himself, so when we see Peter preaching on  the Pentecost, and more than three thousand responded  appropriately, we understand that much preparation went  into that occasion.

Consider another example. We often see the  wonderful effects of Philip and his preaching in Samaria  in Acts 8 as both men and women were baptized as a  result of him preaching Christ and the things concerning  the kingdom of God. Nevertheless, we may forget the  work that Jesus Himself did in Samaria just months  prior in John 4. As the conversation between Jesus and a  Samaritan woman led into Jesus teaching and influencing  many Samaritans, many of them believed on Him. As a  matter of fact, they were successful in persuading him  to stay two more days. Look at the saturating work that  Jesus was doing in preparing the hearts of the people.  Therefore, when Philip comes along months later, his  success with the preaching of the gospel and his Christ- centered message is directly related to the groundwork  that Jesus had already performed. Together, these show  that building the body of Christ takes time and often  patience.

Jesus illustrated the role of teaching and preaching  as sowing the seed in Matthew 13. Farmers understand  quite well the need for time and patience that goes with  planting and harvesting a crop. After planting the seeds,  farmers do not expect to begin harvesting the next day,  but they must exercise patience before the plants even  sprout above the ground, much less develop to the point  of producing fruit ready for harvest. So it is with building  the Lord’s body. While we understand the tremendous  promise that God gave us:

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from  heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth  the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that  it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the  eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of  my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it  shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall  prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.  (Isa. 55:10-11)

We also know that such is not promised with immediate results. Sometimes, the results are not seen for years.

From my experience, some of the most effective   preachers have been those who have labored many   years in one location. They have patiently labored in the   community to the point that even non-Christians in the   community know and recognize them. They have worked   patiently to develop a good name in that locality, and   it is often after working longer than a decade that they   reap their greatest harvest. Why? It is because building   the Lord’s body requires time and patience. I believe it   was the late William Woodson who expressed, “It will   take preaching ten to twenty years to undo ten to twenty   years’ worth of problems.” Such is very often true.

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