“We urge you, brethren, to admonish the disorderly, to comfort the faint-hearted, to lend a hand to the weak, and to be patient toward all” (1 Thess. 5: 14).
Patience is a virtue they say and like other virtues it is easy to pray, “God give it to me (whatever the virtue is) and give it too me right now”. Patience is interesting to me because so many of the foibles and sins that I have are the ones that I am the most impatient with others about. There are weaknesses that I have that I detest in other folks. That is a sad reality and puts a spotlight on Paul’s and Luther’ concept of care for humans and dealing with sin and forgiveness.
Some one once said that there is an incredible tension between tolerable weakness and intolerable error. We are all on the knife edge when dealing with the human weakness that is the result of original sin, and the deliberate, wanton denial of God’s mercy in Christ. Luther said that for cases where weakness leads to sin and offense to others we should be like parents whose little boy has been bitten by a dog: we should sail into the dog but comfort the boy.
In cases where there is a prideful rejection of the promise of full grace and mercy for Christ’s sake, it must be taught and preached that anything that isn’t Christ is sin and death. The church is to be the dispenser of the means grace; the ways that God offers and gives and seals forgiveness that has already been won on the cross of Jesus. When the church is about anything that isn’t Jesus it is sin and death.
There is an issue that tries our patience and that is that Jesus is all in all and Jesus came to seek and save sinners. We now live in a society where the concept of sin is rejected. There is no need for a Savior if there is no sin. Jesus himself said that He came not for those who think they are righteous, but for sinners. Believing we are not sinners is an intolerable error. As 1 John says to say we have no sin is to deceive ourselves and call God a liar.