Fruit of the Spirit: Patience for the present

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

-Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

patience“Lord, give me patience.” I can’t speak for other moms, but I know this prayer is uttered at least five times a day in my home! I so flippantly ask for God to grant me patience in dealing with life, but I never pause to consider what it is exactly that I’m asking God for. And often I forget that by asking for God to give me patience, I’m really asking for opportunities to exhibit patience (and those opportunities tend to test my patience!). Can you relate?

It’s important to know what it is I’m asking God for, and to make sure I strive to attain it according to His standards and not my own. So, I looked up various definitions of patience, and found a myriad of responses. Merriam-Webster was the vaguest with “the capacity, habit, or fact of being patient.” Google gave me “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” Dictionary.com had several definitions, two of which were “an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay” and “quiet, steady perseverance.” And Wikipedia listed patience as “the state of endurance under difficult circumstances.” Good definitions, but when I want truth, I go to God’s word, and there I found a definition of patience according to His standards…

  1. Patience is persevering in all circumstances.
    • Romans 5:3… “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance…”
    • Romans 12:12… “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
    • James 1:2-4… “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
    • Hebrews 12:1… “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
    • Hebrews 10:36… “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
  2. Patience is hopeful.
    • Romans 5:4-5… “…perseverance produces character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”
    • Romans 8:24-25… “”For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
  3. Patience is loving and kind.
    • Ephesians 4:2… “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
    • I Corinthians 13:4… “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”
    • II Timothy 2:24… “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”
  4. Patience is slow to anger.
    • Ecclesiastes 7:9… “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the laps of fools.”
    • James 1:19-20… “…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
    • Proverbs 15:18… “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.”
    • Proverbs 16:32… “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than the one who takes a city.”
  5. Patience is waiting on the Lord.
    • Psalm 37:7-9… “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret- it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.”
    • Psalm 46:10… “”Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
    • Isaiah 40:31… “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
    • James 5:7-8… “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You, too, be patient and stand firm, for the Lord’s coming is near.”
  6. Patience trusts His plan (and not our own!).
    • Jeremiah 29:11… “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’”
    • Galatians 6:9… “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
    • Proverbs 19:21… ”Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Patience is a choice we make each day. We make that choice by choosing God’s agenda over our own. It often means letting go of our own expectations and desires. It means accepting apologies that we may never hear. It means admitting our own wrongs and shortcomings even when it hurts our pride. It means choosing to respond in love rather than just react in the moment. It isn’t always easy, but it is attainable when we tap into the power of the Holy Spirit living within us and allow ourselves to be continuously filled by Him. As we each live our days in our own mission fields, be it work or home, let’s make the decision to choose patience.

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