Patience is a virtue. As it pertains to how believers interact with each other, this adage should hold true. Unfortunately, it often does not as our frustrations with one another’s interpretations of scripture become apparent.
Before we allow ourselves to get annoyed, we should pause and biblically consider how to treat one another.
We may think: “They are just stuck in the milk of the word” or “They are still brainwashed by Christian dispensationalism doctrine” and so forth. However, the question remains – how should we react to one another when points of view and scriptural interpretations differ?
This is a complex area to navigate. It involves our most deeply held beliefs about our Elohim Yahuah (God), our understanding of His character, our role in His kingdom, and our relationship with His son Yahusha (Jesus).
For example, you may have very strong emotional and philosophical reasons about how the names of Father and Son are pronounced. Another person may be fully convinced that the calendar they are following is correct, and so forth.
Nonetheless, we should not be so dug in that we become unwilling to listen and consider different views of scriptural interpretation – lest we risk becoming stiff-necked and hard-hearted. As we interact with one another, we should consider the examples set by Yahusha Messiah and examine how he responded to his disciples and others in similar situations.
Likewise, we should also examine how the disciples responded to others following Yahusha’s ascension.
Patience is Forged from Friction
It seems appropriate to prime this section with a biblical reminder that all believers are at different points in their spiritual walk, and only some share the same level of understanding, research, and knowledge.
But the wisdom from above is first clean, then peaceable, gentle, ready to obey, filled with compassion and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 3:17 TS2009
Indeed, all true wisdom comes from Yahuah, and what wisdom we do have, we should apply it in a similar fashion as did Yahusha and his disciples. Additionally, believers should remember that we are all different members of the body of the Messiah. (1 Corinthians 12) It is not everyone’s calling to be a Bible scholar, teacher, rabbi, or preacher.
Believers should pause before judging brothers and sisters in Messiah who have a different understanding of scripture. First, we must determine if what others are presenting is simply a different point of view, or if it is indeed a strange or blasphemous doctrine. This advice does not suggest that we tolerate blatant lies, blasphemy, evil, or immorality. As believers, we should stand up against such doctrine in those instances.
However, the focus of this discussion is not on these types of situations, but on those where some believers react negatively to scripture topics that should be open for discussion.
Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.Proverbs 27:17 Cepher
It is essential to remember that when iron sharpens iron there is friction in the process, and although there is friction, the goal is to improve the tools being sharpened. We should be building each other up and encouraging one another as 1 Thessalonians 5:11 instructs.
Is the Medium the Message?
Philosopher and media theorist Marshall McLuhan popularized the expression “the medium is the message.” He argued that the medium (video, print, internet, etc.) through which we choose to deliver a message will determine how that message is received.
On a personal note, one of the most intriguing phenomena I have witnessed over the years is the quick acceptance of YouTube teachers’ interpretations of scripture versus “face-to-face” explanations. Perhaps a psychologist might better explain this phenomenon of why so many people are receptive to video teachings about a bible topic and so resistant to the same information when presented in a personal conversation.
Is it the lack of visual aids, charts, graphs, soothing music, or perfectly edited statements? Or perhaps it is the inability of the viewer to talk back, interrupt, or argue – leaving no choice but to either listen to the message or turn off the video. Nonetheless, it seems very disingenuous that believers won’t give full attention and consideration to biblical interpretation to a brother and sisters they know personally, holding strangers they don’t know personally, of which they have no way of judging their fruit above their personal relationships.
I would challenge all brothers and sisters in Messiah to strive to become better listeners during “in-person” scriptural conversations, as this will undoubtedly result in stronger relationships and more profound scriptural growth over time.
Patiently Building Up or Rudely Tearing Down?
Several biblical topics are deeply rooted in our core values and beliefs. The pronunciation of the name YHWH is one example.
Many believers are deeply convicted about pronouncing the Father’s name correctly as a sign of admiration and respect toward the Father. Once they discover that the name was intentionally removed from Scripture and replaced with “God” and “LORD”, they may feel that using these titles for Yahuah instead of His real name is disrespectful. This is understandable. I also felt this way during a certain period of my walk.
However, in doing so I failed to show patience and consideration toward other believers for whom the full significance of the true name had not yet been revealed and who were actively researching and studying this topic for themselves.
The Bible states in Philippians 2:12-13:
So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.HCSB
So, did my adverse reactions help build up or tear down my brother? Did my sharp corrections act as a building block, or a stumbling block for my sister? Could I have presented my understanding of the name more positively?
I could have and should have, in many situations.
Another touchy subject is the calendar. Some believe the traditional Jewish calendar is correct, while others believe the Enoch/Zadokite calendar is accurate. While others’ research has led them to trust another variation of the biblical calendar.
Many of us are deeply convicted and emotionally connected to the idea of keeping the calendar in the most accurate way possible. Some may feel betrayed and lied to from years of deception from the mainstream Christian church, which falsifies dates about when the Messiah was born and observes pagan feast days dedicated to the false goddess Eostre (Easter).
I once shared those feelings of betrayal and felt very convicted to make sure that I keep Yahuah’s feast days as outlined in the Bible. I did not want to offend the Father more than I already had in my former sinful life. These are just a couple of examples.
As believers, we should be extra considerate of others’ convictions about these topics, given their extreme importance.
However, this is a two-way street. We should not become hard-hearted toward one another. We must remain open to listening to a brother or sister’s research which led them to the conclusion they are presenting.
We can listen, learn, and disagree with respect and love toward one another. The same approach holds true for discussions regarding:
- Flat Earth
- Round Earth
- The Millennial reign
- Bible calendars
- The Crucifixion
- The Melchizedek priesthood
- Duties of the High Priest
- When a Day Begins
The list of differences goes on and on.
So how do we show love and patience toward one another in circumstances of differing scriptural understanding? The Bible gives guidance in numerous verses, and here are a few to consider regarding this subject:
- Romans 14:1-4
- 1 Peter 3:8-11
- Proverbs 16:24
- Matthew 7:12
Together with one of my favorites is 2 Timothy 4:1-2:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.ESV
This verse is very instructive in that it simultaneously advises us to be prepared at all times to reprove (correct misguided interpretations of scripture), rebuke (bluntly reject blasphemy), and exhort (encourage, advise, and appeal to sound biblical interpretation).
It is an excellent summary of how our approach toward each other should always be.
We must also apply Ephesians 4: 1-6:
I call upon you therefore, I the prisoner of the Master, to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with all humility and meekness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, being eager to guard the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace – one body and one Spirit, as you also were called in one expectation of your calling, one Master, one belief, one immersion, one Elohim and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.TS2009
Verse 2 presents a critical point to this discussion: if a person is a brother or sister, we should express humility, meekness, and patience toward one another in love.
Lessons in Patience and Humility
So, what might 2 Timothy 4:1-2 and Ephesians 4:2 look like in practice between brothers and sisters in Yahusha Messiah? Let’s take a closer look at how Yahusha behaved in a few situations to understand his example.
In Luke 9:46-48 Yahusha reproves his disciples who were arguing about who would be “the greatest” in the Kingdom. Our Messiah explained that welcoming a child in his name was equivalent to receiving the Father. He also stated that the least (those who humbled themselves) were considered to be the greatest (highly esteemed).
Yahusha rebuked his disciples several times for lack of faith and for being hard-hearted. (Mark 8:33, Mark 16:9-15, Luke 9:49-50, and Mathew 17) Mark 16: 9-15 serves as a great example of what happens when “the messenger” gets in the way of the message.
Mary Magdalene was given orders by an angel of Yah to inform the disciples that Yahusha has risen. Yet, their response was hard-hearted and they dismiss her report.
Pause for a second and think about the gravity of this passage and the severe error that the disciples make in rejecting her message. The disciples knew Mary personally as a sister in Messiah. They knew she had sincere love, obedience, and commitment toward Yahusha. They knew this woman had faith and compassion toward them as well. Yet, when times got tough, the disciple’s knee-jerk reaction was to dismiss this woman’s message – in disbelief! Would you recognize a message sent directly from Yahuah through a woman’s mouth? Would I?
Yahusha responded with righteous anger a few times because of disbelief, hypocrisy, and lack of compassion toward one’s neighbor.
Many of us are familiar with the account in Matthew 21, John 2, Mark 11, and Luke 19, where Yahusha (Jesus) went into the temple and drove out the moneychangers. His anger at their sinful behavior and disrespect of the temple is evident in this account. A response of righteous anger was warranted.
In Mark 10:13-16, Yahusha expresses his displeasure with his disciples, who rebuked those who brought children to him. Messiah publicly called out their errors and corrected them in front of both children and adults. It must have been embarrassing and humbling, considering they were his trusted twelve who walked with him and learned from him daily.
There are several other instances where the Messiah becomes indignant and displeased, rebuking people and disciples. However, the point is that when appropriate, Yahusha is quick to correct egregious errors in scriptural interpretation, thought, and misstatements in a righteous and very blunt way. Sin is sin. Believers should not pull punches in publicly calling out sinful and unbiblical behavior.
Lastly, Yahusha set an example of exhortation – encouraging, advising, and appealing to people earnestly seeking the truth of Scripture.
Messiah Yahusha showed patience with his disciples and the Israelites’ lack of faith and scriptural understanding on numerous occasions. One good example is found in Matthew 6:23-27 where Yahusha rebukes the storm. Messiah calmly questions their fear and faith. And yet he shows them, by example, what genuine faith in practice can accomplish as he commands the storm to stop.
In Matthew 13, Yahusha patiently unpacks the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Weeds. Likewise, in Matthew 14, Yahusha tells his disciples to give the crowd of 5,000, something to eat. The disciples lack the faith and understanding to accomplish the task – responding with a list of food inventory (logically) instead of feeding the crowd by faith as he commanded them to do. Yahusha shows them what faith can accomplish.
Likewise, Yahusha showed patience with Peter when he tried to walk on water. Instead of highlighting his failure, Messiah reached out his hand and asked the disciple why he doubted.
These are just a few examples from the book of Mathew. Numerous other examples can be found in Mark, Luke, and John, wherein Yahusha responds to a lack of faith and misunderstanding of scripture with patience and understanding. It is not done in a corrective or rebuking manner.
Patience In Context
Much depends on the context of the situation and the person’s heart condition as to how Yahusha responds. He is the perfect example of how a mature believer should behave and react.
When we think of Yahusha’s reactions when questioned by the Pharisees, we most often recall the verses where the Messiah points out their hypocrisy and lack of scriptural understanding. He rightly calls many of them out as a “brood of vipers and sons of the wicked one.”
However, in some instances, Yahusha responds in more of a reproving and advising manner.
In John 3:1-20, Nicodemus the Pharisee meets with Yahusha. He confesses that they know he came from Yahuah – because no one could perform the signs he has unless Yah was with them. However, Yahusha responds with an astounding biblical salvation statement in verse three, stating that unless someone is born again, they cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus does not understand and asks, “But how can anyone be born when he is old? Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”
This discourse is interesting in two ways. First, it is apparent that Nicodemus is asking the questions earnestly, not with a hidden hypocritical agenda. Second, Yahusha doesn’t perceive the questions as a trap or trick, but instead, he sees that Nicodemus does not fully understand the deeper scriptural mysteries of spiritual matters and knows Nicodemus is thinking only in the physical.
Yahusha provides a few examples to help Nicodemus understand the spiritual meaning. He even reproves Nicodemus in verse 10, reminding him that as a teacher of Israel, he should know these things. Again, this discourse is not presented as adversarial but is an excellent example of a firm yet respectful and mature discussion between the Master Yahusha and a person with a much different understanding of scriptural interpretation.
The reactions of Yahusha in these various situations depended on the content of the questions, the agenda of the person, and the context of the topics. If the line of questioning was a blasphemous or hate-rooted question or challenge, Yahusha rightly put people in their place with a biblically founded, righteous response.
However, if they asked a question earnestly, they are responded to with grace, wise correction, scriptural guidance, and truth.
Hopefully, these examples will help Torah-observant brothers and sisters who sometimes struggle to know how to respond to challenges in their understanding of scripture, as I, too, struggle. There are always two sides to the coin – two different minds at different places in their spiritual growth and walk. It is my hope and prayer that we treat each other with the love, patience, and forgiveness spoken of in Colossians 3:12-13, Ephesians 4:32, and 1 Peter 4:8.
Through the grace and power of Yahusha Messiah, may we all do as 1 Thessalonians 5:11 advises:
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
Blessing and shalom to you all, and thanks for reading.