“Now the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control …”
In today’s fast-paced society and self-centered culture, patience is quickly disappearing. The people of God, on the other hand, should be a model of patience. It is a fruit of the Spirit who indwells us. The apostle Paul instructed the Ephesian Christians to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1–3).
Patience is commonly defined as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” Patience, sometimes referred to as longsuffering, originates from God. It is a product of self-control (which we will study soon) and a part of godliness, which was demonstrated to us by Christ.
Patience is both a command of God and a gift of God. As with all Christian disciplines, we are called to walk in the Spirit and thus to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit, of which patience is a vital part. The biblical portrait of patience is not that of mere acquiescence or tolerance while we bide the time; rather, patience is a dynamic and powerful spiritual discipline that is deeply rooted in our faith in the sovereignty of God and in God’s promise to bring all things to completion in a way that most fully demonstrates his glory.
With this in mind, we must respond to fellow believers as those who, like us, are sinners saved by grace. We must show grace to one another, and the integrity of our profession must be demonstrated by the patience of our spirit. Even as we seek to convince, instruct, and correct, we must always remember that only God can reach the human heart, and we must maintain the confidence that he is at work in those who are fellow recipients of his grace.
Jesus himself illustrates this. Jesus was very patient with his disciples. They were sometimes stubborn, lazy, selfish, and slow to believe. In spite of Jesus' miracles and words of wisdom, they were focused upon themselves and wavered in their belief about his identity, mission, and ministry. From a merely human standpoint, we can see how frustrating they must have been. Yet we do not find Jesus railing at his disciples because of their selfishness and foolishness. He doesn’t make fun of their mistakes.
At certain points Jesus challenges the disciples and declares they are slow to believe; but those are always appropriate reminders about what was at stake for them. These are appropriate and useful rebukes, not petty venting.
Here’s the bottom line:
- Every parent who has raised children knows the necessity of patience and perseverance.
- Every coach who has led a team knows the necessity of patience and perseverance.
- Every manager or executive who has led a business knows the necessity of patience and perseverance.
- Every farmer who has planted a field knows the necessity of patience and perseverance.
- Every student who has learned a subject or a skill knows the necessity of patience and perseverance.
- Every athlete/artist who has pursued mastery of a sport/craft knows the necessity of patience and perseverance.
Trust God. Do the work. Do not let your old nature rob you of patience and perseverance.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6.9)