Love Is Patient
About the Guest
Lou Priolo, biblical counselor and author of "Resolving Conflict," reminds us that when facing conflict, nothing is more important than patience. Priolo defines patience as the ability to accept a difficult situation from the Lord, to suffer long, and to endure. We need to be as patient with others as God is with us, realizing that our spouse-or our circumstances-won't likely change overnight.
Lou Priolo, biblical counselor and author of “Resolving Conflict,” reminds us that when facing conflict, nothing is more important than patience.
Love Is Patient
Bob: When someone has wronged you and you hold on to a grudge / you hang on to bitterness, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Here’s Lou Priolo.
Lou: When you do not forgive someone of their offenses—but instead you replay the offense over and over again in your mind: “I can’t believe he did that! What’s the matter with him? How would he like if somebody did that to him? You know what? I think I’m going to give him a taste of his own medicine! I’m going to show him what it’s like to be offended that way!” The more you replay that in your mind, over and over again—the Bible likens bitterness to a root—the deeper and hairier and uglier that root becomes.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, December 1st. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. If you’re hanging on to unforgiveness / if there’s a root of bitterness growing in your heart, what do you do about it? We’ll spend time talking about that today with Lou Priolo. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I had to come up here to the office over the weekend recently; and when I got here, I recognized that I had forgotten one important thing; and that is—that if you want to get into the office, you kind of need your badge to be able to activate and get in. So I had to turn back around—go back and get my badge so that I could get into the office.
The reason I mention that is because it just reinforces a principle—you set out to do something, you should stop and ask the question, “Have I done what’s necessary in advance to complete the assignment that I’m setting out to do?” When it comes to resolving conflict, there are some prerequisites there / there are some badges you better have with you before you try to walk in the door to resolve the conflict; or it’s not going to go well for you.
Dennis: This has application to single people, in their relationships, and how they resolve conflict between one another.
It also has plenty of application—as we’ve been talking about this week—to married folks, whether newly married or all the way to the finish line for couples. I also want to highlight one other group that we haven’t talked about much this week—it’s parents.
I want parents to know this subject of resolving conflict is one of the most important issues that you can train your sons and your daughters in as they look to their future of relationships with friends and, some day, with a spouse. Hear me when I say this—this topic doesn’t just apply to married folks in a relationship—but to singles and to parents, who are training the next generation to know how to resolve conflict, biblically and practically.
Bob: Well, in fact, I remember hearing somebody say, one time on the radio—they said: “There is one skill in a marriage relationship that is the most important skill to have.
“If you don’t have this skill, it will not go well for you in marriage.” I remember listening and thinking, “Since I spend a lot of time talking about marriage and family, I ought to know what that skill is.” When the person said, “The skill is resolving conflict,” I thought, “Well, that makes perfect sense,” because if you can resolve conflict, you can live at peace. If you can’t resolve conflict, you won’t live at peace—nothing will go well for you.
Dennis: We have the author of Resolving Conflict: How to Make, Disturb, and Keep Peace in relationships. Lou Priolo joins us on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back, Lou.
Lou: It’s good to be back.
Dennis: Lou has had no conflict with his marriage with Kim since 1987—[Laughter]—or his two daughters, who are almost grown to adulthood; right, Lou?
Lou: I think the next time you invite me back, we need to discuss my book on lying. [Laughter]
Dennis: He has plenty of practice on resolving conflict, as he’s already shared, here, this week.
Lou, we talked about the prerequisites for resolving conflict. The first one is humility—not being proud or being arrogant. The second one is being gentle. That’s something we have to learn how to practice in the power of the Holy Spirit—getting into the Bible, asking that fruit to be produced within us. This third area of resolving conflict is very, very important. Again, remind our listeners where this comes from in Ephesians, Chapter 4.
Lou: Ephesians, Chapter 4, in verse 3, we have this command—it says, “Make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” As Christians, we are to diligently work hard at having peaceful relationships—especially, with other people / all men—non-believers but, especially, with believers. In verse 2 of Ephesians 4, Paul gives us these four prerequisite qualities that are essential for getting along with others.
The first is humility. The second is gentleness. The third is patience and the fourth is forbearance or tolerance.
Dennis: Let’s talk about patience for a moment. What exactly is patience, practically speaking?
Lou: Patience is the ability to accept the difficult situation from the Lord without complaining, or murmuring, or arguing—or giving Him a time limit to remove it from our lives. Patience—when you see it in the Bible—has to do with people. You see the word, “endurance,” in the Bible; but as a general rule, the word, “endurance”—we have to endure things—and sometimes they are used interchangeably; but typically, we endure trials but patience is something that we have to show towards people because people are sinful, and they don’t change overnight—especially, our spouses and our children; right?
Lou: So we have to be patient with them, because it takes them time. We believe in progressive sanctification—little by little, the Spirit of God takes the Word of God that’s in our heart and He transforms us into the image of Christ. There’s no such thing as instant spirituality—not in ourselves, not in our spouses, not in our children—so it requires us—God requires us to be patient with those in our lives.
Bob: If you’re reading the King James Version of the Bible, instead of “patience” you get another expression very often—
Bob: You stop and think about that—nobody wants to suffer. If we do suffer, we don’t want to suffer for long; and yet the Bible says that one of the things the Spirit will produce in us / one of the things we ought to be pursuing, in terms of spiritual growth, is the ability to suffer long / to endure over a long period of time the pain that comes from people sinning against us.
Lou: I believe the Greek word for this word, “patience,” is makrothumia—long time before you thumos—long time before you blow it. I think “longsuffering” actually is probably a little bit more of an accurate term than “patience.”
Dennis: So, how have you developed, personally? You, undoubtedly, wouldn’t brag and say you’ve always been a patient person.
Lou: No; I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t say now that I’m as patient as I ought yet to become.
Dennis: But how have you developed patience—as a husband/father—as a man?
Lou: First of all, patience means I can’t superimpose my agenda over the Holy Spirit’s sanctification agenda for my wife and for my children.
Bob: —and your timetable; right?
Lou: —and my timetable. To be honest with you, Dennis, the thing that has helped me the most—there are two passages of Scripture that I committed to memory. Both of them—when I find myself becoming impatient or even angry—
—if I can recall them to mind—I don’t do it 100 percent of the time; but when I can call these things to mind, it helps me tremendously.
The first one is 2 Timothy 2:24-26: “The Lord’s bond servant must not be quarrelsome”—argumentative—“but kind to all; patient when wronged; in gentleness, instructing those who are in opposition.” Then, two chapters over—2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word”—or in the case of a husband or father, I say to myself—“Teach the word” because it’s my responsibility to teach my wife / to teach my kids God’s Word; right? “Be ready in season, out of season; rebuke, exhort, convict” —now catch this—“with great patience and careful instruction.”
In both of these verses, you have this idea of patient instruction—patience and instruction—instruct with patience. A lot of times, when I’m having a conflict with my wife or my girls, it’s sort of like we’re on the same level:
“Nya, nya, nya, nya”—me versus her / me versus them. When I can remember these verses, it changes the paradigm. Instead of me being on the same level with them, I remember these verses and I tell myself, “Lou, you are supposed to shepherd them.” Somehow, by bringing that to mind, it enables me to be more patient.
Bob: That’s where I find I often am able to cultivate patience in the midst of conflict—it’s by stopping and remembering, “How longsuffering has God been with me?”
Lou: Romans, Chapter 2: “Do you despise the goodness of His forbearance and longsuffering with you, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”
Bob: If I am grateful to God for His patience / His longsuffering—if I have been a recipient of that grace in my own life—that helps me pour it out into the lives of others.
I want to be as patient with others as I want God to be with me. He has been exceedingly patient with me.
Dennis: Lou, I don’t want our listeners to miss—because you ran past it very quickly—you committed 2 Timothy 2:24 to memory.
Dennis: When you’ve got it in your heart, the Spirit of God can remind you to suffer patiently when you’ve experienced a wrong—if that Scripture is in there, reminding you of the truth: “Be patient when you’ve been wronged.”
Bob: Let’s move onto this whole issue of forbearance. You talked about it: “enduring all things.” This is not a word that we use in our common everyday vernacular—I don’t talk about forbearance very often—so let’s pull back and go, “What does it mean to forbear?”
Lou: It means a word that, in current Christian culture, we don’t like to talk about; because the word is used against us a lot.
Dennis: Yes; right.
Lou: The word really means to be tolerant. We are to be tolerant of other people. Now, it’s interesting because, as a rule, we’re patient with people’s sin; but people do things or don’t do things that irritate us, and what they do is not necessarily sin. We have to be patient with people while the Spirit is working on them to change them, but we have to be tolerant/forbearing when they have these idiosyncrasies—these things that really annoy and aggravate us; but at the end of the day, they’re not sin! They may never change and we may not be in a position to do more than suggest that the other person work on that—that’s where we have to be forbearing.
Sometimes, we actually do have to put up with people’s sin—Jesus says, “How long must I put up with your lack of faith?” when He comes down from the mount of transfiguration.
New Christians—they don’t know how to change—we have to be forbearing with them. As a rule—I would say, from my understanding of this verse, forbearance has to do with things that are not sinful behaviors in others but irritate us.
Bob: Dennis and I have a colleague, who just recently lost his wife. We attended the memorial service; and this colleague talked about a principle that he had learned in his marriage with his wife, early on. He said, “I recognized that 95 percent of who my wife was, and how she and I related—95 percent of it was wonderful.” He said, “But there was 5 percent that really annoyed me.”
Dennis: Yes; and he talked about his tendency to focus on the 5 percent.
Bob: He did.
Dennis: You can make the 5 percent into 75 percent.
Bob: That’s right! He said, “I came to realize that my job needed to be to focus on the 95 percent and just let the 5 percent go!”
Proverbs says, “It is a man’s glory—
Lou: “—to overlook a transgression.”
Bob: That means that most of the time, when our spouse does something that we look at and go: “Boy, did you have to do that?” “Did you have to say that?” “Did you have to act that way?”—it is our glory to say: “You know what? I’m going to let that go,” “How many times have you been gracious to me and I’ve never even known it?”
Bob: “I’m just going to let that go.” That’s forbearance; isn’t it?
Lou: Yes; it is.
Dennis: Lou, in your book, I’ve found something very convicting that I just want to pass on to our listeners.
Dennis: I think this will help them, as well, deal with this issue of forbearance, which is looking at another person’s differences through God’s eyes. It’s the way He made them—so be patient with them / forbearing—longsuffering with them.
You got a quiz, though, at the beginning of Chapter 4, on “Loving Forbearance.” You ask people to rate this on a one-to-five point scale—one being “always”; five being “never” or “hardly ever.”
I want you to rate yourself here, Lou. It’s your test, but—[Laughter]—we’re just going to have some fun on this. The first question—there’s actually—
Bob: —20 of them.
Dennis: There’s 20 of them.
Lou: Okay; I’ve got to stop you!
Dennis: No; you can’t. [Laughter]
Lou: I’ve got to stop you now; because these tests that I put in my books, from time to time, are not scientifically norm tests—
Dennis: Of course they’re not, Lou!
Lou: —they’re not—
Dennis: We know that!
Lou: —they’re not given—
Dennis: No disclaimers are necessary!
Lou: —not given to the general public; right? I try to construct them from the Bible; so unlike the normal psychology tests, you’re not being compared to other people in the culture; you’re more closely being compared to Christ. If you fail my test, remember the comparison is not that you continue to see—
Dennis: We’re not asking the audience to take the test.
Lou: You’re just not going to let me say this! [Laughter]
Dennis: I’m not!
Lou: I’m going to have to be patient and forbearing with you! [Laughter]
Dennis: First question, Lou: “When others do not do things exactly as I would do them or in a way that I think best, I criticize them verbally or mentally.”
One to five, Lou—one being “always”; five being “never” or “hardly ever.”
Lou: Three-and-a-half to four.
Dennis: Okay; do you want to comment on any of these? [Laughter]
Number two: “When people holding differing opinions from mine about things that are not clearly delineated in Scripture, I judge them to be wrong, immature, or unspiritual.”
Lou: Yes; I’m close to five on that. I’m very careful about legalism—I don’t often fall into that pit.
Dennis: Oh good.
Bob: You got a good check on that one.
Dennis: That’s good!
Bob: How about you?
Dennis: I don’t think I could say that!
Bob: You got a score on that one for yourself?
Dennis: I think I might—I think I might be with Lou’s two-and-a-half to three on that one. [Laughter]
Number three: “When talking to someone who holds a differing opinion from mine, I immediately try to persuade that person that he’s wrong rather than demonstrating respect for him by trying to understand more completely his point of view.”
Bob: Now wait—I don’t think that’s right at all!
Dennis: Bob—Bob, how would you score yourself on that? [Laughter]
Bob: Well, I just demonstrated myself; didn’t I?—[Laughter]—just by jumping right in there and saying, “I think it’s wrong.”
What you’re exposing, with these questions, is a tendency inside of every one of us—
Bob: —to look at our own way of doing things—our own way of thinking / our own way of evaluating—and saying, “I obviously understand what the right way to do things is; and if you don’t do them my way, there’s obviously something wrong with you.” We’re back to the whole issue of pride being at the root of all of this.
Lou: That’s right. To answer your question as honestly as I know how, I’d probably give myself a four to four-and-a-half with my counselees; but with my family, I blow it!—[Laughter]—my girls point this out to me. Somehow, I recognize my responsibility, as a counselor, to not answer a matter before I hear it—“A fool has no delight in understanding but only in giving his own opinion,”—
—with the people I counsel. But boy, for some reason, at home, my score is lower than it is when I’m counseling people. I think that goes to the point that, in our families—not to justify it—but it’s a lot easier for us to be comfortable, and to let things slip, and to misbehave at home than we are willing to do when we are out in public.
Bob: I think there’s a key one here on your list that says, “When other people sin, I reprove them for their sin before I consider whether or not the transgression should be overlooked.” We are quick to do that—to point out the log in somebody else’s eye rather than stopping and saying, “Lord, do You want me to just let this go and just to overlook this?”
Lou: In James, it really talks about this—it says: “Do not speak evil one of another brethren. He who speaks evil of his brother judges his brother.” When you judge somebody to do something sinful that the Bible doesn’t say is a sin, then you are, not only judging your brother, you’re judging the Bible:
“I don’t know why it’s not in there. It should have been in there!” [Laughter] “There is one Lawgiver”—he goes on to say—“the One who is able to save and to destroy.” “I don’t know why God didn’t put my little scoop on the Bible, but He should have.”
Lou: I mean—do you see how serious a thing it is to judge someone to be doing something wrong when the Bible doesn’t specifically say it is wrong! It’s a very serious offense—it’s legalism!
Bob: I just want to pull back here, because I think what we’ve talked about this week—you look at this from a big-picture perspective—this is revolutionary in a couples’ life / in your relationship with your kids. Where there is on-going conflict—with a co-worker / with an extended family member—you don’t have to dig too far in the midst of that conflict to find a lack of patience, a lack of forbearance, a lack of humility, or a lack of gentleness—
—or some combination of all of those. If we will cultivate, with the help of the Spirit—with the work of the Spirit through us / with God’s Word in us—if we will cultivate humility, and gentleness, and patience, and forbearance, our conflict with other people is going to be greatly diminished; isn’t it?
Lou: Yes; but, again, we have to be patient with ourselves; because these qualities are difficult. We have to—the Bible says, “Clothe yourself with humility.” The process of sanctification takes time, even in our lives. It’s one thing to aim for them / it’s one thing to diligently seek to pursue them, as I said before—to co-labor with the Holy Spirit by internalizing those portions of Scripture and reading His Word that deal with the things we’re trying to put off and put on in our life—but at the end of the day, there is no such thing as instant sanctification. It’s something we have to plan on doing and be patient, even as the Lord is teaching us these four qualities.
Bob: And thank God for grace—
Bob: —in the midst of it all.
Bob: Dennis, we’ve just talked about getting ready for conflict. We haven’t even talked about the process of going through conflict resolution, which is what the second part of Lou’s book is all about.
Dennis: What we’ve done this week is say: “Conflict is common to all marriages. All of us need training. All of us need a mentor / a coach,”—that’s what Lou does in his book. He coaches us, whether we’re single, married, or parents. I’ve got to say to the parents—I started, at the beginning of this broadcast, and I’ll say it again—one of your most important assignments in life is to equip your kids to know how to resolve conflict with another selfish, sinful human being—because, if they choose to get married, will spend the rest of their lives with a person, who is a selfish, sinful human being, who will disappoint them from time to time.
Do your homework well in your own marriage.
Apply this book, not only to your marriage relationship, but also pass on the truths to your kids.
Lou, I want to thank you, again, for anchoring your advice and your counsel in the Scriptures and for coming back and letting Bob and me pound you with questions and force you to tell stories about your relationship with Kim. [Laughter] Thanks for coming. I hope you’ll come back again sometime—let us peel back the onion, again, for another layer.
Lou: I will! Thank you.
Bob: We’ve got copies of Lou’s book available in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. It’s called Resolving Conflict: How to Make, Disturb, and Keep the Peace. You can order from us, today, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order. Again, the website’s FamilyLifeToday.com; or call to order at 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
This weekend, we’ve got hundreds of couples, who are going to be joining us at one of our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways—we’ve got getaways taking place in Baltimore; St. Louis; Albany, New York; Chattanooga—next week in Charleston, South Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; and then I think we’re in Phoenix before we wrap up for this year.
The Weekend to Remember is one of the primary ways that FamilyLife Today provides practical biblical help and hope for marriages and families all around the country. We’ve had millions of husbands and wives, who have been trained over the years, at these events, along with this radio program, our website providing articles and free downloads of this program, the resources we create—that’s what FamilyLife Today is all about. Here, during the month of December, we’re asking listeners to consider making a yearend donation to support the work of FamilyLife Today and to help us head into 2018 strong.
In fact, we’ve got some exciting news about the month of December.
We’ve got a matching gift that is in place. Our friend, Michelle Hill, is here to give us a quick overview of the details. Michelle—
Michelle: Thanks Bob! I am excited to be the match monitor again this year…so I’m here to sort of “shine a light” on what God is doing through our listeners’ generosity.
Now, speaking of generosity, just like last year, we again have friends of the ministry who’ve stepped up and offered to kick things off… so they’re matching every donation we receive during the month of December…So let’s say a listener calls in with a donation of $30? Well, these friends will match it...thirty becomes sixty, fifty becomes a hundred, ten becomes twenty - whatever you can give - up to a total of two million dollars.
Bob, we’ve made it really easy. You can call or give online, and it’s a great time to give.
Bob: Again, it’s easy to donate. You can do it, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call to donate—1-800-FL-TODAY.
Or you can mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223.
With that, we hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and I hope you can join us on Monday when we’re going to talk about what we can learn on The Broken Way. Author Ann Voskamp is going to join us for a very special series. I hope you can tune in, starting Monday.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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