If someone were to ask your family if you were a patient person, what would their response be? I want to consider myself a patient person, but I’m not sure what my family would say, and especially when I’m under stress or when things aren’t working out on my timetable.
How patient am I with my child who comes to me with questions and requests at the most seemingly inconvenient times? How about difficult people in my life? Or people who respond impatiently to me?
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The Fruit of Patience:
Galatians 5:22-23 are the verses that come to my mind in cultivating the fruit of patience in our lives regarding one another:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, and it can also translate as “long-suffering” or “forbearance.” It’s our ability, under control of the Spirit, to persevere and endure in times of suffering or hardship. It also means we can put up with the weaknesses of others without getting angry or irritated. In the verse above, it is specifically referring to our patience concerning one another.Patience is our ability, under the control of the Spirit, to persevere and endure in times of suffering or hardship.
Galatians 5:22 starts with the word “but” as it contrasts the fruit of the Spirit against the sinful deeds of the flesh previously mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21. The Fruit of the Spirit is fruit the Holy Spirit produces in our lives as believers as we are controlled by the Spirit and walk in His grace and strength. Fruit in our lives will always be an outward manifestation of a life that is surrendered inwardly to God’s work in us.
Love is the first fruit listed in Galatians 5:22, and without a clear understanding of God’s love for us, we will not be able to show true love to others and bear with one another in challenging situations. The word love is agape in this verse, and we know it as love that is of and from God. God doesn’t merely love; He is love itself.
A perfect picture of what agape love looks like is beautifully laid out for us in I Corinthians chapter 13, and verse four shows us how God’s love working out in our lives will be evident by the fruit of patience being manifested in our interactions with others, “Love is patient and kind.” True biblical love will be demonstrated with a gentle forbearing Spirit that desires to do good towards others even those difficult people in our lives.
As we’re reminded of the Gospel and God’s great patience with us as His beloved children, we can now love others as God has loved us.
Patient with One Another:
John and Charles Wesley were blessed with a patient mother. At one time her husband said, “I marvel at your patience! You have told that child the same thing twenty times!” Susanna Wesley looked fondly at the child. She said, “Had I spoken the matter only nineteen times, I should have lost all my labor.”
We can all relate to Susanna’s telling her child twenty times, but can we relate to the attitude she displayed to her child? Sadly I know I can’t. My lack of patience is shown most to my children, and they aren’t the cause of my impatience; they are revealing this sin that is already in my heart.
In those moments that impatience is welling up inside me, I need to stop and pray and ask the Lord to help me respond in kind to my child. Then, I need to thank Him for revealing this sin of impatience in my heart and that He continues to work in me to mold me more into the likeness of Christ. I do need to grieve over my sin, but God doesn’t love me anymore or less because of my good or bad behavior. His love for me is based on the work of Jesus Christ on my behalf and sanctification (becoming more like Christ) is a process in our lives, not a one-time event.
What about all the annoying, wrong, and angry people in our lives? God has placed these people in our lives for a purpose, and the reminder that the Lord is long-suffering (Psalm 86:15) with us should help us to do the same with others. I may be a difficult person in someone else’s life.
We can desire others to be perfect and often overlook and not correct our own faults. I’m not to bend others to my will but to bend myself to God’s will and His will is my sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Cultivating patience in my life is part of that sanctification process.
Begin at Home:
If our lives are lacking the fruit of patience, a great place to start is in our own homes. We are not going to become patient people overnight or with a 5-step program. It is throughout our lives being lived out among others and only will be worked out in us by the grace and help of God.
As God enables us to show His patience to others that He has bestowed on us, we will be able to respond in those challenging situations in a Christlike manner. May we love others as we have been loved and bear with one another forgiving each other as Christ has forgiven us (Colossians 3:13).
Ask the Lord to show you areas where you struggle in being patient with others and seek Him as to how you can live out this fruit on the Spirit in those situations. Our prayer is that others will see the Gospel being lived out in our lives through our responses to them and we would have the opportunity to share the reason of the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15).