In the previous article in this series, we covered the subject of peace. In this article, we will discuss the fourth part of the Spirit’s fruit: patience. In the KJV, the word used is “longsuffering.” I’ve always found the word “longsuffering” to be interesting, because it really does describe what patience is about: Patience is about suffering for a long time! Being a father now, I realize my patience is often tested, and in a variety of ways. It is so easy to explode and let my anger out; however, to be patient means to suffer longer! Patience means to endure without falling into sin.
Need for Patience
Patience is important because Satan will test our limit. We will be tested by life’s trials, stresses, and difficulties. We will be tested in the workplace, in the home, and even in the church. Unfortunately, many cannot endure the trials, and give up. Jesus spoke of the seed that fell on stony ground: these are the souls who hear God’s word, but could not endure persecution and trials, and so they wither away (Matthew 13:20-21). Satan wants us to lose patience. Satan want us to give up on God. Satan wants us to be angry and sin (Ephesians 4:26).
Therefore, we need patience. We need patience to tolerate the brother who gets on our nerves. We need patience to endure the workplace stresses. We need patience to overcome household conflict. Above all, we need patience so that we endure all that life throws at us, and finish this Christian journey. As God has promised, the crown of life awaits those who reach that finish line (Revelation 2:10). If we give up, we get nothing!
Example of Patience
The Bible gives us a great example of one who exhibited patience despite his trials and suffering. His name is Job (James 5:10-11). Job suffered unimaginable pain and loss. In one day, he lost all his property in a series of unfortunate events. In that same day, he lost his 7 sons and 3 daughters in a freak accident. To top it all off, Job himself was struck with sore boils all over his body. Even his wife told Job to give up, to curse God and end his life (Job 1-2).
What did Job do? Job certainly mourned and sorrowed. However, Job did not give up. Job did not curse God. Job did not let go of his integrity. Because of Job’s patience, he was ultimately rewarded by God (Job 42:10-17). Likewise, we too will suffer also in this life, but we have this hope and assurance that if we can endure like Job, we will receive an ultimate reward from the Lord Himself (James 1:12)
Growing in Patience
Having examined the importance of patience in our Christian journey, how can we grow in patience, so that we can run this race and not give up? The Bible gives us some advice and instructions:
Learn from experience (Romans 5:3-4). It is said that the best teacher in life is experience. Perhaps in order to learn to endure trials patiently, we need to experience more of it. Hence, Christians should not run away at the first sign of trouble. Rather, we can be happy when we face trials, knowing that we can learn from these experiences and become a perfect person (cf. James 1:2-4).
Look forward to our hope (Romans 8:25). Hope is one of the greatest motivating forces in this universe. Mothers endure 9 months of pregnancy and the pain of childbirth, with the hope of delivering a precious baby into this world. God has given us a great hope, that after this life is over, we can obtain an eternal reward in a place of bliss and comfort (Revelation 21:4). Hence, we patiently endure our trials, because we eagerly anticipate something that ultimately will make all our struggles worthwhile (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
Learn from the Bible (Romans 15:4). We are not the first ones to suffer here on earth. The Bible contains examples of men and women who had their fair share of depressing moments. We can read the Bible to learn how these people patiently overcame their trials. We can read the Bible to draw wisdom from God Himself, so that we can be better equipped to face our trials (2 Peter 1:3).
Look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2). Of all the people who have endured suffering, the greatest that we can learn from is none other than Jesus Himself. Despite the suffering that He had to endure, the mockery, the beating, the crown of thorns, and the crucifixion, Jesus patiently suffered, even to the death (Philippians 2:6-8). Hence, He is more than deserving of being our Lord and King (1 Timothy 6:15). Hence, we can follow in His footsteps, in enduring our own portion of trials.
Jesus never promised that life will be easy. However, Jesus did promise that He gives us strength to endure our trials, and hope that we will receive a glorious reward at the end of this dark tunnel. As Christians develop the fruit of the Spirit, we will produce patience to tide us through all of life’s trials and temptations.