How many of us could use more patience? I for one know that is something I desire more of. It is funny though, I remember as a new Christian, the advice – One thing you don’t want to do, is pray for patience because God will give it to you. I have heard that many times over the years.
Why are we weary of patience? What is patience? The 1828 edition of Websters defines patience as:
PATIENCE, noun pa’shens. [Latin patientia, from patior, to suffer.]
1. The suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness. patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, from a kind of heroic pride, or from Christian submission to the divine will.
2. A calm temper which bears evils without murmuring or discontent.
3. The act or quality of waiting long for justice or expected good without discontent.
Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Matthew 18:26.
4. Perseverance; constancy in labor or exertion.
He learnt with patience and with meekness taught.
5. The quality of bearing offenses and injuries without anger or revenge.
His rage was kindled and his patience gone.
6. Sufferance; permission. [Not used.]
7. A plant, a species of rumex of dock.
I looked at the modern definition as well and it is essentially the same:
1 : bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint2 : manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain3 : not hasty or impetuous4 : steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity5 a : able or willing to bear —used with ofb : susceptible, admitting patient of one interpretation
The thing I find most interesting is the absence of “submission to the divine will”. It seems that todays understanding of patience comes through self-will. It is something that through our own will and determination that we can choose to endure or to avoid.
The greek word is makrothumia which takes its root from two words, makros and thumos. Makros is defined as long, distant, far; of long duration and thumos is defined as an outburst of passion, wrath.
HELPS word studies helps to shed further light:
3115 makrothymía (from 3117 /makrós, “long” and 2372 /thymós, “passion, anger”) – properly, long-passion, i.e. waiting sufficient time before expressing anger. This avoids the premature use of force (retribution) that rises out of improper anger (a personal reaction).
3115 /makrothymía (“divinely-regulated patience”) is used of God Himself (see 1 Pet 3:20; 2 Pet 3:15). Indeed, only the Lord produces 3115 /makrothymía (“true patience, longsuffering”) in us and hence is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22).
“3115 (makrothymía) embraces steadfastness and staying-power. If in English we had an adjective ‘long-tempered’ as a counterpart to ‘short-tempered,’ then makrothymia could be called the quality of being ‘long-tempered’. . . . which is a quality of God (LXX, Ex 34:6)” (F. F. Bruce, Commentary on Galatians, 253).
In society today one thing I am certain of is society’s shift from the truth that we are sinners before God to I am basically a good person. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit and as such is an attribute of God. We focus so much on God is love or God is good that we ignore, or essentially take advantage of God’s patience. Our sin is offensive to God, and yes in Christ we have forgiveness. But sin is still offensive to our Creator.
So is it God’s will that we sin? No but in His mercy, His goodness, His love, He withholds His holy wrath. Jesus paid the price for our sin, and like Passover in Egypt, God’s people will be spared. The blood over the doors has been replaced with the blood of Christ over our hearts and our lives. God is patiently waiting for His appointed time.
So why would we not desire patience in our lives? I myself prefer to avoid difficulty when ever possible. Yet we are not to avoid difficulty in this life for Christ’s sake but rather to endure.
Colossians 3:12-17 says:
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
The bible teaches us that God is patient with us. Patient as he grows us into the people He created us to be: holy, beloved, with compassionate hearts, kind, humble, meek and patient. And in Christ bearing with us, forgiving us for our sin against Him. It is this love that unites us so that we can have the peace of Christ in our hearts. And God wants our gratitude. Should we not be grateful?
To be patient is to live as God has called us in his divine will. It is not human perseverance. It’s origin is from God and we are told that whatever we do, in word or deed, to do it in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through Him. When this fruit of the Spirit grows in us, we glorify God. Not in our own ability but in response to Him, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Father, today we come to you thankful. Thankful that You have shown us the way, the truth and the life. Thankful that in love, by Your mercy, and with patience You have withheld Your holy wrath. Lord some would say that we as Christians are narrow-minded to say that Jesus is the only way. But Lord those are not our words but Yours. And I say thank You that there is a way at all. Let us live our lives in word and deed in the name of our Lord, and giving thanks to You. And as Your Word says let us put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven us, so we also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, to which indeed we were called in one body. And let us be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in our hearts to God. In Jesus name, amen.
God bless you,