Patience is a Godly characteristic. God is so very patient (Romans 9:22-24; 15:5) with us, as He has been since Adam’s transgression (Genesis 3:6, 7). We’ve all sinned (Romans 3:23), and yet He has not thrown us into hell, as we all deserve; indeed, He sent His Son to atone for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). When we repent He forgives us (Colossians 2:13) and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). He sees us as He sees His Son, without blemish, and with whom He is well pleased (Matthew 3:17). Now, that’s amazing. What love, what compassion and what grace! Without His grace (Ephesians 2:8, 9) what hope would there be for us?
Galatians 5:22 sets out nine fruit of the Spirit, the fourth of which is ‘patience’. Speaking of myself, for much of my life, certainly prior to becoming a Christian, I was not a patient man – that is with people. On the other hand I could be extremely patient if motivated to obtain or achieve something I dearly wanted. Motivation was a prime factor in bringing about my patience. I was prepared to wait for the desired outcome (James 5:7).
Since becoming a Christian I’ve had to work at being patient with people, especially those who won’t listen to reason (1 Thessalonians 5:14), and I can now appreciate what a valuable characteristic patience is. Like all fruit of the Spirit, patience has to be worked at. When you become a disciple of Jesus you find yourself adjusting to your new life. Having being enlivened by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8), your spirit has been changed (2 Corinthians 5:16, 17), but your body remains the same (Romans 7:23-25).
Patience is not just about bearing with something or someone over a period of time, it is a matter of being unruffled (Galatians 5:23), being calm without murmuring and not being fretful. Patience requires endurance (Hebrews 6:15), and sometimes constant effort; it can even mean suffering for a cause (2 Corinthians 6:4-6; Galatians 5:11), without retaliation, and maybe being meek and humble.
A patient person is not provoked; he does not become irritated, does not complain or lose his temper. He is likely to be quiet, steady and diligent (1 Thessalonians 4:10b, 11). These are characteristics you would expect to find in a disciple of Jesus, whose aim is to be Christlike (1 Corinthians 11:1). Jesus was persecuted, maligned, tortured, flogged, spat upon and crucified, and yet He was patient and forgave those who mistreated and hated Him (Luke 23:32-34).