Tag Archives: Patience

God’s People, part 237: Gamaliel

Read Acts 5:34-42

“Then Paul said, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, and I was brought up and educated here in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. As his student, I was carefully trained in our Jewish laws and customs. I became very zealous to honor God in everything I did, just like all of you today.”  (Acts 22:3, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

B5A3339D-AD12-4869-A636-08167F485670Part 237: Gamaliel. Gamaliel was a renowned Pharisee doctor of Jewish Law who was on the Sanhedrin in the first half of the first century C.E. In fact, he was not just “on” the Sanhedrin, but was a leading authority on it.  In fact, he may have even served as the president of the Sanhedrin, though that is up for dispute between scholars.

Regardless, Gamaliel was a well-known Jewish religious authority even without being mentioned in the New Testament by Luke; however, his being mentioned in the New Testament made him all the more well-known. In Acts, Luke records the fact that Gamaliel was a measured, thoughtful, and well-balanced man.

When the Sanhedrin was trying to find a solution in how to deal with the new sect of Jews following Jesus Christ, He suggested that they do nothing, but patiently wait on God’s will. He said, “If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:38-39, NLT)!

What’s more, Luke also goes on to suggest that Gamaliel was actually Paul’s mentor in Acts 22:3. Scholars debate this because Saul of Tarsus’ crusade to violently root out the early Christian church seems to stand in stark contrast with Gamaliel’s much more measured approach. I, on the other hand, do not doubt Luke’s account at all. His account would have been disputed at the time had it not been true and, more importantly, their reason for disputing it is weak. It is not uncommon for students to stray from their mentor’s teachings. Saul was simply a different personality than Gamaliel, and he had a youthful zeal that had not been tempered by the years of experience and wisdom that Gamaliel had.

When we feel passionately about something, we often allow our zealous convictions carry the day. This is true of many people, especially younger people, who are idealistic and want to see action happen now. What is remarkable about Gamaliel, and it surely speaks toward why he’s so highly-regarded and spoken of to this day in both Judaism and Christianity, is that he did not allow his zeal to carry the day and advised that others did not as well. Saul may not have heeded his mentor’s advice at the time; however, one day Saul would become Paul the Apostle and would eventually come to be measured, thoughtful and well-balanced.

Gamaliel has something to teach us as well. Like Saul of Tarsus, we can certainly allow our zeal, our convictions, and our emotions carry the day. Sometimes it is good we do; however, on the flip side, we can find ourselves doing more damage than good. What’s more, we can find ourselves fighting against God because we feel we are so right that we cannot even see God telling us we’re wrong. Gamaliel, teaches us, as God’s people, that we need to trust that God will work in us, through us, but also in spite of us. Let us be a people who, like Gamaliel, grow to be measured, thoughtful, and well-balanced.

Being right is not our end goal. God call us to be just, to be love, and to be humble.

Lord, help us to learn from your servant Gamaliel, so that we too can grow in our patience, our self-control, and our wisdom. Amen.

Patience is a Virtue

Read Psalm 130


“Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices.” (Psalms 37:7)

PatienceJust recently I finished another three-week juice fast. I had gotten to the point where I knew that my body was needing to be cleansed of all of the convenience foods I had been feeding it. In fact, in the course of a three month period, I had gained about 24 lbs. Can you imagine it? As my clothes got tighter and tighter, I started to realize that I was counteracting all of the hard work I had done over the course of the last year and a half and decided to reboot my body.

The first time I ever juiced, I got very excited as I saw the weight drop; however, there were some days when my body didn’t lose any weight and I was left there to wonder why in the world I wasn’t losing pounds when I wasn’t eating ANYTHING! How could I stagnate in weight loss, when all I was feeding my body was liquid nutrition? What’s more, there were days where I was a pound or two heavier. FOR REAL!?!?!

To say I got frustrated would be an understatement. Of course, after a few days I would lose three or so more pounds and be back to the excitement of losing the weight. This cycle went on for the duration of my entire 60 day juice fast which, in the end, I totaled a weight loss of 66 pounds.

But this time around, I wasn’t having any difficulty or frustration. Sure, there were days where I lost weight and days where I didn’t lose any, but I knew that ultimately what I was doing for my body was healthy and that my body would respond accordingly. This time around I had the patience to endure the ups and the downs, recognizing the larger picture of the health I was promoting in my body.

How often does our impatience frustrate us and stand in the way of our faith in God. Often time we wish for things to happen right here and right now, and when the results don’t meet up to our expectations we throw our hands up in the air, shake our fists, and wonder what’s the point of it all. In the end, looking back on our lives, we can easily see the larger picture that got played out; however, in the moment, we are frustrated.

In fact, I can say that it was my impatience that caused me to gain the 24 pounds to begin with. I didn’t want to have to spend two hours a night making food. I’m a busy guy with lots to do; surely, it would be quicker and easier for me to eat processed packaged food that can be made in a matter of minutes in a microwave. Well, it is plain to see where impatience led me.

Rather than being impatient, we are called as Christians to wait patiently on the LORD. While we, in this day and age, live in a culture of instant gratification, it is extremely important for us to discover the virtue of waiting…the virtue of patience. Christ calls us to have faith, to wait upon the LORD, and to trust that our life of service is WORTH IT, even if we don’t see immediate results. God sees the bigger picture. Trust in that.


“Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord.” – Brenton Brown and Ken Riley (from their song, “Everlasting God”)


Lord. You have instilled patience into all of us. I pray now that I may take the time that is required to do things your way. Amen.