The Patient Warrior

victorious warrior

Art by Josh Benton

Lately I’ve been doing my devotions through the Book of Proverbs. My goal is to seek God’s wisdom in things going on in life. My goal is to be a man of God who can live out God’s wisdom. It seems that wisdom and righteousness go hand in hand. When one seeks out God’s wisdom, one seeks out to live a righteous life. In fact, in order to live out wisdom, one lives out righteousness.

Better a little with righteousness than much grain with injustice.” Proverbs 16:8

The LORD detests the way of the wicked but he loves those who pursue righteousness.” Proverbs 15:9

Wisdom itself is life giving. It is more precious than any treasure one can think of.

How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver.” Proverbs 16:16

Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD, and humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 15:33

As I’ve been studying the Book of Proverbs, one proverb stood out to me. It’s one I’ve read many times before but for some reason, it made me think of what it means to be a man of God and seek wisdom at the same time.

Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” Proverbs 16:32

For some reason, my brain mushed the proverb together and came out with being a patient warrior. In the past, I’ve compared being a man of God to being a warrior. A warrior for God is one who is willing to fight the good fight. A warrior for God can be wounded. A warrior can be taught and discipled. But there’s more to this than just mushing together being patient verses being a warrior.

In meditating on this proverb, I looked at other translations. Something caught my eye in the English Standard Version

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” Proverbs 16:32 ESV

To be slow to anger. What does that mean? I dove deeper into it. The words translated “slow to anger” or “patient” literally is “long in the nose.” It’s a Hebrew colloquialism of saying longsuffering or slow in being angry. I just like that though “long in the nose.” And then there’s self-control. It literally is “rules his spirit.” Combining “self-control” and ruling one’s spirit makes me think of the Fruit of the Spirit.

Paul writes in Galatians

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

As I reflect on this, I realize that living out wisdom itself means being a follower of Christ and letting the Holy Spirit reside within you. When you let Christ lead, you allow the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, to reside in you and produce fruit, produce evidence that you belong to Christ.

In trying to be a man of God, I need to be “long in the nose.” It’s not about taking a city. To take a city is to wage war. I’m not here to wage war. I’m here to be a follower of Christ. As a patient warrior, I am to exhibit that which shows I belong to Christ. And, hopefully, wisdom comes with it. To be honest, I struggle with this. I am not “long in the nose” to say the least. I snap at my kids. I get impatient when driving down the freeway and that person is going 5 miles below the speed limit and there’s a semi on my right and I can’t pass. I get frustrated when things don’t go the way I want them to. I struggle with this. Yet I need to be “long in the nose” in my life. There’s more to life than just this. I need to see the bigger picture.

And so, as I struggle to be a patient warrior, a patient man of God who is “long in the nose” I try hard to follow Him. I deeply desire His wisdom. That’s why I’m reading the Book of Proverbs right now. His wisdom is there. There is so much wisdom wrapped up in this one book that I can barely take it in. Yet I also know that as a follower of Christ, I need to allow the Holy Spirit to work within me to show the evidence that I belong to Christ. And in doing so, I can be that patient warrior.

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