One of the unique terms that the Bible uses to describe the Holy Spirit is Paraclete, derived from a word in the Greek original that means “Encourager.” The Spirit does for us what good coaches do for their athletes: he trains us, encourages us, scolds us, disciplines us, and cheers us on in order to develop our potential to be useful to his agenda.
That process often takes a long time. We are works in progress, and thankfully God does not possess a hair-trigger temper. St. Paul (who ashamedly admitted to being a blasphemer before his conversion) called God’s patience with him immense: “For that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:16).
Isn’t there great comfort to be found in God’s great patience with us? By this I don’t mean to gloat at how much sinful and selfish behavior we can get away with. I don’t mean to excuse those who put off repentance indefinitely, thinking they have all the time in the world. I do mean to arouse within us all a mighty appreciation for the gospel of Christ. He really does love us! He really does want us all to believe his promises! He really does want us to grow in spiritual knowledge and service.
And he really does want us to spend eternity with him.