By Jane Grivjak
Introduction: The term “patience” in Paul’s list of the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5 is much broader that our little pea brains would like to think. What usually comes to mind when I think of patience is a picture of myself tapping my foot and glancing down at my watch as I wait for my turn to check out at Walmart. While I don’t want to minimize the importance of exhibiting the fruit of patience in those minor, every day situations, I believe that the fruit of patience manifests itself in much deeper ways that the occasional irritations we encounter on any given day.
Greek definition- makrothumia
Barnes-Slowness to anger or passion, longsuffering, patient endurance, forbearance vs. haste, passionate expressions or thoughts, irritability
As I explored the work patience in the scriptures, I found that there are four general manifestations of patience that are found in the believer.
Patience as seen as: Persistent Perseverance needed in our general walk
Patience as seen as: Patient Continuance Under Provocations
Patience as seen as: Endurance in Afflictions
Patience as seen as: Calm Submission While in Waiting
Patience as seen as: Persistent Perseverance in our Walk
This kind of patience is shown as a requirement for growth in our Christian experience.
In the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8), Jesus illustrated to His disciples the disposition of the seed of the Work as it fell on the four different types of soil: the wayside, the rocky ground, the thorny ground and the good soil. The seed that fell on the good soil yielded a crop a hundredfold. Notice how Jesus describes the condition by which the crop could bring such a plentiful yield.
Luke 8:15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
The fruit of spiritual maturity must be patiently cultivated, nurtured and tended in order to produce an abundant crop that will be most pleasing to the Father.
This is a picture of consistency, diligence and perseverance that is necessary in order for us to grow and mature in our faith.
2 Peter 3:17-18 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Beware! You have an enemy that would love to see you sidetracked, discouraged, disheartened and diverted to he can pick you off!
A mature believer is a consistent one. Our growth is not something that can be rushed, there are no short cuts to maturity and stability. As we see with the farmer, he must do his part and then patiently wait for the fruit to ripen and grow.
What is our part in the fruit bearing process?
- Overview: Six Habits of Maturing Christians (Bible.org)
- In order to grow we need to eat—The Bible
- In order to grow we need to breathe—Prayer
- In order to grow we need good spiritual hygiene—Confession of sin
- In order to grow we need a caring family—Fellowship
- In order to grow we need regular exercise—Service
- In order to grow we need to give—Stewardship
Patience continuance in the growth process means that we don’t give up when there are set backs, we never think we have arrived at perfection, that we always maintain a teachable attitude and that we keep in constant remembrance that we are in a marathon, not a sprint to the finish line!!
The writer of Hebrews gives us a perfect picture of persistent perseverance:
Heb 12:1-2 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Patience as seen as: Patient Continuance Under Provocation
This can be described as endurance in the face of adversity. The best example of this shown with David’s constant provocations from King Saul. Scripture tells us that Saul’s hatred for David was legendary. His jealousy and paranoia led him to pursue David throughout Israel in order to murder him so he could remain on the throne.
1Sam 23:15 Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand.
That didn’t mean that David’s life was easy. Life on the run from a murderous thug led David to take desperate and, in some cases, ill advised measures to survive. David would have been justified in killing Saul and was given the opportunity on several occasions, BUT he restrained himself, giving place to God for wrath.
In 1Samuel 24 we find the account of the first of two opportunities for DFavid to avenge himself on his enemy. Saul had entered the cave where David and his men were hiding. David’s faithful followers saw it as a perfect opportunity for David to do away with Saul and they encouraged David to, “do to him as seems good to you.” David decided to cut off the corner of Saul’s robe….and at that moment, his conscience kicked in and he resisted the temptation to retaliate and even restrained his men from taking matters into their own hands to avenge their friend.
Notice what David says in verse 13, “Let the Lord judge between you and me, and let the Lord avenge me on you, but my hand shall not be against you. As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Wickedness proceeds from the wicked.’ But my hand shall not be against you.”
David’s conscience told him that avenging himself was wicked!
Patience in the face of provocation requires faith and trust in God to avenge in His time and in His way. That does not mean that you are powerless under provocation. There are any practical lessons that we can take from the story of David and Saul that can be applied to provoking situations in our lives, but vengeance is not an option.
Provocations are part of life, but in order to exhibit the fruit of patience under them we must bring those incitements and those who bring them against us to the throne of God. In the first chapter of the book of 1Samuel, it is noted that Hannah (Samuel’s mother) was severely provoked by her rival, Peninnah because she (Hannah) was barren. These provocations made Hannah miserable. She rightly took her misery and bitterness of soul to the Lord and He heard her prayer and answered her in due time. That is what we must do when we find ourselves in similar situations: pour out our hearts to the Lord!
The psalms are filled with pleas by David for the Lord to intervene on his behalf.
Ps 35:1-2 Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. 2 Take hold of buckler and shield and rise up for my help.
Bringing our misery while suffering under provocation to the Lord will relieve us of the desire for vengeance!!
Romans 12:17-21 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. 20 Therefore
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Patience seen as: Endurance in Afflictions
Affliction takes on many forms in our lives and is best described as misery or trouble. There is a myriad of conditions that fall under this topic….sickness, barrenness, extreme poverty, loss, abuse, depression, anxiety, oppression, grief and persecution are just a few.
Job was a man who we know was well acquainted with affliction:
Job 14:1 “Man who is born of women is of few days and full of trouble.”
Ever since the all of Adam and Eve in the garden, the earth and its’ inhabitants have been under the cloud of affliction.
When a person is suffering and languishing in trouble and misery, every day can seem like an eternity. The children of Israel suffered under the affliction of bondage in Egypt for 400 years before they were delivered.
When God appeared to Moses, in order to send him to bring deliverance, He gave him this message for the people:
Ex 3:16-18 Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, 'The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, "I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt; 17 and I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey."'
Affliction is such a weight topic and I don’t want to minimize the pain that comes with it or sound like there are easy answers.
Here are some truths that we can take from scripture to cultivate the fruit of patience in the midst of them:
Expect affliction-Job 5:7 Yet man is born to trouble, As the sparks fly upward.
It is a certainty. If we don’t expect trouble, we will be caught off guard and may not be able to patiently endure through it. Remember, God has promised that He will not give us more than we can bear (1Corinthians 10:13) and He has promised that WHEN, not if, we go through the waters of adversity, He will be with us! (Isaiah 43:1,2)
Commit it to God-Job 5:8-9 "But as for me, I would seek God, And to God I would commit my cause — 9 Who does great things, and unsearchable, Marvelous things without number.
Again, Patience comes from entrusting your situation to the Lord in prayer. Go boldly to the Father, remembering this promise:
Ps 22:24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him; But when He cried to Him, He heard.
Remember, this life is temporary-2 Cor 4:16-18 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
The apostle Paul was well acquainted with afflictions in this life but he kept everything in proper perspective. We must always keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and our heavenly hope in order to manifest the fruit of patience no matter what troubles accompany this life on earth!
Patience as seen as: Calm Submission While Waiting
Impatience can get us into a lot of trouble in this area! It can be very difficult to wait on the Lord for situations to change, for answers to come, for Him to intervene on our behalf. Often times, when we get tired of waiting on the Lord, we take action into our own hands and the results can be disastrous!! Abraham and Sarah learned this lesson the hard way and we are still seeing the devastating consequences thousands of years later through the children of Isaac and Ishmael.
What happened with Abraham and Sarah?
**God first appeared to Abram and promised him He would make him and his decedents a great nation. Abram was 75 years old ant that time and Sarai was 65, well past child bearing years. It would be 25 more years before Isaac was born. (Genesis 12)
**God later confirmed to Abram that he would provide a male heir “from his own body” to inherit the promises made to him. The implication here is that Sarai, who was his “wife” was also involved in the bringing forth of the promised heir. (Genesis 15)
**After 10 years of waiting, Sarai hatched a plan to give Abram the heir through Hagar, Sarai’s maid. (Genesis 16)
Impatience can cause us to manipulate circumstances in order to get our own way rather than waiting for God’s timing in order to accomplish His perfect plan. Keep in mind that the giving of Hagar to Abram was “fully in accord with the practices of those days.” Sarai was conflicted and began to doubt the promise after 10 years of waiting. She mused, “The Lord has restrained me from bearing children.” She thought that she was working in cooperation with God in order to fulfill His plan but we all know that she was woefully mistaken!!
Patience wile waiting requires the discipline of resisting the urge to intervene on God’s behalf. Patience requires that we do nothing to manipulate or “help” God in order to speed up the process. Waiting in patience requires FAITH AND TRUST. We must be willing, by faith, to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” (2Chronicles 20:17)
What are you waiting for God to do on your behalf right now? Are you tempted to take matters into your own hands? Let Abraham and Sarah’s story be a cautionary tale. By taking matters into your own hands instead of prayerfully waiting on Him, we could be bringing about circumstances that could have been avoided altogether by showing patience instead.
Ps 62:5-8 (Say to your soul)
My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. 6 He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. 7 In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God. 8 Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.