“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
Patience is the Greek makrothumia. It is a combination of makros which means “long,” and thumos which means “temper, or intense anger.” It literally means to be long-tempered rather than short-tempered.
Patience is the willingness to endure difficult people and challenging circumstances without blowing up with frustration or striking out in anger. It is also the willingness to persevere and do what needs to be done for as long as it takes. There will be people who irritate you. There will be situations that frustrate you. There will be plans and projects that take a long time and a lot of effort to achieve.
The Spirit says be patient.
In today’s fast-paced society, self-centered culture, patience is quickly disappearing. The people of God, on the other hand, should be a model of patience. The apostle Paul instructed the believers in Ephesus and Asia Minor 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).
The Book of James speaks to this spiritual attribute. “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord,” it says in James 5. “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
Patience is a critical attribute for pursuing and achieving any goal. This is because God has designed a world where everything takes time and process. In order to be successful in anything, you must have the patience and perseverance to execute the process that is necessary for the time that is required.
James uses the farmer as an example, because the farmer is disciplined about working the process while at the same time waiting patiently for nature to bring the rain that is necessary to water the crops. A successful farmer follows the Law of Patience and Perseverance: Work the process that is necessary for the time that is required, and solve problems along the way.
Impatience diminishes our perseverance, and it happens when we complain about working the process, or get frustrated about the time that is required, or get irritated at the obstacles we have to deal with. Therein lies the problem, because you can’t cheat the necessary process, nor can you cheat the required time. In some situations it is possible to use strategies to streamline the process or techniques to accelerate the time, but the Law of Patience and Perseverance still applies. There is always a process that is necessary and a time that is required.
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.
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.