I use my relationship with Jesus as a measure stick for everything in my life. School, work, family, friends, situations, circumstances, consequences, everything that can be thought of under the sun and blue sky. What I discover in my relationship with this Wonderful Person I use to measure my interactions, understandings and reactions to the world around me. So, this morning I got into a disagreement with a well known author. She talks about the importance of patience. Actually, over several pages she talks about Peter's passage of 2 Peter 1:7 where she looks at the importance of different characteristics in context to our relationship with God. Of course, she brings in other verses too, but what we disagreed with is the presentation of Patience in the life of a Christian. Here's what she wrote:
There is a necessity for the Christian adding patience to temperance. There will need to be a firm principle and fixedness of purpose not to offend in word or action either our own conscience or the feelings of others. There must be a rising above the customs of the world in order to bear reproach, disappointment, losses and crosses without one murmur, but with uncomplaining dignity....A petulant, ill-natured man or woman really knows not what it is to be happy. Every cup which he puts to his lips seems to be bitter as wormwood and his path seems strewn with rough stones, with briars and thorns; but he must add to temperance patience and he will not see or feel slights.
There's nothing wrong with this paragraph except for one thing; people reading this will get the impression that they have to do this of their own strength. People will either get discouraged or go right on a head, missing the point.
And the point is, only in Christ can we accomplish anything of this magnitude. I'll be honest, we live in a society where patience is an unknown word. And more importantly having a relationship with Christ first and foremost will cause a person to naturally seek out the importance of patience and temperance in representing Christ. It's the whole buggy before the horse idea here that I am greatly uncomfortable with. People don't realize that all desired character change happens during that relationship with Christ, it doesn't happen before.