What is patience?

PATIENCE is an active endurance of opposition or suffering; it is not a passive resignation. Patience is associated with endurance, steadfastness, longsuffering, and forbearance.

An aspect of the fruit of the Spirit

(Gal 5:22-23 NIV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

(Col 3:12 NIV) Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Why we should be patient
God does not forget His promises

(Exo 5:22-23 NIV)  Moses returned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? {23} Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”

(Exo 6:1-5 NIV)  Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.” {2} God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD. {3} I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. {4} I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. {5} Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.

We become impatient with God when we think that He has forgotten His promises. But God assures us that He has not forgotten. He will deliver in His good time.

(Isa 30:18 NIV)  Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

(Hab 2:2-3 NIV)  Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. {3} For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

God’s timing is always the best

(John 11:1-15 NIV)  Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. {2} This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. {3} So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” {4} When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” {5} Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. {6} Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. {7} Then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” {8} “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?” {9} Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world’s light. {10} It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light.” {11} After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” {12} His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” {13} Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. {14} So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, {15} and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

God’s timing is never late. He is there exactly on time to bring in maximum benefit. In our human thinking we may think that Jesus should be there to heal Lazarus while he was still alive. Yet Jesus delayed purposefully knowing that even while Lazarus’ sisters will suffer more when their brother dies, this is the way to bring maximum glory to God’s name.

To be patient is to be more like God

God is patient (Rom. 15:5). He is slow to anger in relation to the Hebrews (Ex. 34:6; Num. 14:18, Neh. 9:17; Ps. 86:15; Isa. 48:9; Hos. 11:8-9). The Hebrews were frequently rebellious, but God patiently dealt with them. Jesus’ parable of the tenants depicted God’s patience with His people (Mark 12:1-11). God’s patience with sinners allows time for them to repent (Rom. 2:4), especially in the apparent delay of the return of Christ (2 Pet. 3:9-10).

(Source: Holman Dictionary)

Jesus also exhibited great patience. When he suffered at the hands of His persecutors, He could have asked for help from the angels but He would not. He wanted to go through God’s plan so that maximum benefit can be reaped.

(Mat 26:52-54 NIV)  “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. {53} Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? {54} But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

(Heb 12:2-3 NIV)  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. {3} Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

God will deliver us from our problems and reward us if we have patience

(Psa 40:1-2 NIV)  For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. {2} He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Examples of how God has tested patience of Biblical characters

God will exempt us from greater trials if He found us to be patient in smaller trials

(Rev 3:10 NIV)  Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

Situations that require our patience
When we see “unfairness”

The psalmist learned to be patient when confronted with the prosperity of the wicked.

(Psa 37:34-39 NIV)  Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it. {35} I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a green tree in its native soil, {36} but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found. {37} Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace. {38} But all sinners will be destroyed; the future of the wicked will be cut off. {39} The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.

Patience in our ministry

(2 Cor 6:4-6 NIV)  Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; {5} in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; {6} in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;

Ministry requires our patience because we are seldom going to see immediate results. Even Jesus did not see immediate results. When He started His ministry, He encountered rejection from His own people. The disciples He nurtured did not become strong Christians overnight.

We too must not lose hope when our ministry does not yield immediate results. We are told to look to Jesus as an example of Someone who did not lose heart.

(Heb 12:2-3 NIV)  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. {3} Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

If we have patience in our ministry and persevere, we will one day reap the results.

(Gal 6:9 NIV)  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Patience in love

Christian love is patient.

(1 Cor 13:4 NIV)  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

(1 Cor 13:7 NIV)  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

When we love someone, we are patient with him. Even if that person does things to hurt us, we give him time to change.

Patience in persecution/unfair treatment

(Rev 13:10 NIV)  If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.

(Prov 20:22 NIV)  Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.

Patience in adversity

How to have more patience
Striving to be more patient

There are many verses in the Bible that tell us to have patience and wait on the Lord. That means that we have to play our part in practicing patience.

(Psa 27:14 NIV)  Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

(Psa 37:7 NIV)  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.

Patience is ultimately a gift from God

(Rom 15:5 NIV)  May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus,

(2 Th 3:5 NIV)  May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

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