Many have heard the joking declaration: “Lord, please give me patience, and give it to me right NOW!” This tongue-in-cheek, satirical statement humorously depicts what is so hard about being patient.
Many have also heard the maxim, “Patience is a virtue,” probably so many times that it becomes a cliché—tiresome and meaningless to them. That is unfortunate, because patience is a highly valuable character attribute! Whoever has and exercises patience will reap rewards.
So much in our present-day culture teaches us to be impatient. We have microwaves and fast-food drive-thru restaurants. We have instant soup, rice, potatoes and pudding. We have computers, the Internet and iPhones to give us (nearly) instantaneous information and communication. We have planes and trains and automobiles to move us quickly from place to place. But, if there is a traffic jam or accident, we can easily lose patience. This reminds me of the sardonic definition of a “split second”: the interval of time between the stoplight changing to green and the driver behind you honking their horn!
In this impatient age, we should consider our own level of patience. Patience is one of the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22–23. Some translations use the words “longsuffering” or “forbearance.”
There are other synonyms for the word “patience” that describe the application of patience in a particular circumstance. Patience may require us to be subordinate in certain situations, while we may need to be flexible, tractable, amenable or acquiescent in other situations. Other times, we may express patience by being tolerant, accommodating, understanding or meek. Or, we may need to simply exercise self-control, being tranquil and uncomplaining until a situation is resolved.
One amusing slang expression I heard once was, “Take a chill and be still.” A similar one was “Take a chill pill!” It’s good advice.
The Bible encourages us to be patient. James 5:7–8, tells us twice to “be patient.” The Greek word (Μακροθυμέω, makrothumeō) means “to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart, to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles, to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others, to be mild and slow in avenging, to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish.”
Paul encourages us to “walk worthy of the calling (Divine invitation) wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering (same word as above), forbearing (ἀνέχομαι anechomai: to hold up, to sustain, to bear) one another in love; …” (Ephesians 4:1–2, King James Version). Occasionally
Another saying about patience is “Good things take their time” or “Good things come to those who wait.” There is a reward for patience. The Bible gives us examples such as Job, Abraham and Sarah, David and others. We are told in the book of James, “…that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:3–4). Having patience bears positive fruit.
One of Christ’s parables is the Parable of the Sower in Luke 8. In the explanation of the parable to the disciples, Christ explains that the seed that falls on good ground is like “…those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (v. 15). Exercising patience produces good fruit.
In Hebrews 6, we read about the earth drinking in the rain, either producing useful fruit, or thorns and briers (vv. 7–8). But, if we imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises, we will reap the rewards and receive the promises that God has made. God, the Righteous Judge, will give “eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality” (Romans 2:7).
True Christians will need patience to get through the tough times just ahead before receiving a tremendous reward, Your Ultimate Destiny.