Dave spoke this morning from Gal 5:22-23, reminding us that patience is one of the fruit of the Spirit. At Christmas, we often receive multiple presents and inevitably prefer some to other, and we can have that same attitude towards the fruit of the Spirit, preferring love, joy and peace to the more ‘mundane’ and less glamorous gift of patience. Nonetheless, patience (often translated as forbearance or long-suffering) is necessary for us and we looked at three questions relating to it this morning.
1. What Is Patience?
We often have a negative view of patience because we call other things by that name. Indifference, laziness and co-dependence are not patience, however. Patience is really restraint, holding back from judgment or jumping to conclusions, developing stickability and perseverance and therefore not rushing for quick fixes all the time.
2. Why Does Patience Matter?
Patience matters because it makes relationships work. So often, we harm relationships through hurtful words and temper, but patience holds us back from saying and doing things we regret. Prov 14:29 reminds us that a patience man has great understanding.
Patience matters also because it helps us to overcome the power of sin. 1 Jn 5:3 reminds us that God’s commands are not burdensome, and patience helps us to look beyond the lure of the ‘now’ of sin. It also helps us during times of testing and trial (Js 1:2-3) and prevents us from quitting. In this way, it helps us to cooperate with God’s purpose for our lives, resisting the urge to do it ourselves (as Abram and Sarai did with Ishmael.) God is patient and long-suffering with us and therefore it matters that we develop this quality, because we are called to be like God.
3. How Do We Get Patience?
The Bible rarely talks about how we get patience in our lives, simply telling us to be patient or to clothe ourselves with patience (see Col 3:12, 1 Thess 5:14, Eph 4:2). But in order to grow in patience, we must:
value patience (often, we have mixed feelings about even wanting this fruit, preferring to be a ‘go-getter’ than someone who displays patience.)
ask for it. As we abide in Christ, fruit grows, including patience. (John 15:5)
actively seek to be patient. When facing difficult situations, we must see this as an opportunity to become more like Christ.
God is patient with us and this knowledge helps us to be patient with others. Waiting for Him to fulfil promises is not a waste of time, nor are difficult times and trials. We may feel very frustrated and impatient at the present time, but we need to be reliably patient, for that is how God is with us.