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Patience is a Virtue: 6 Ways to Grow in this Fruit of the Spirit

  • iBelieve Contributors
Patience is a Virtue: 6 Ways to Grow in this Fruit of the Spirit

Kate Motaung's article, "How to Cultivate Patience in a World of Instant Gratification" says this about patience: Most of us have heard the phrase, “Patience is a virtue.” Sure, patience is a noble and desirable trait, but is that all? For the Christian, isn’t patience really a necessity? Christians need patience because we define our lives by waiting well for Jesus to return and meet Him in glory.

In Galatians 5:22, patience is listed as one of the fruits of the Spirit. If patience is a virtue, then waiting is the best (and often most unpleasant) means by which the Holy Spirit grows patience in us.

But our culture does not value patience in the same way that God does. Why be patient? Instant gratification is much more fun! Our increasing ability to instantly satisfy our wants may be taking away the blessing of learning how to wait well.

What does it mean to “wait well,” anyway?

Here are six ways to let scripture guide you to wait well for your sanity and sanctification – ultimately for God’s glory:

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1. Patience is waiting quietly

In Kate's article, she writes, Lamentations 3:25-26 says, “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

What does it mean to wait quietly? Without complaint? I’m embarrassed to admit that my kids have heard me groan with impatience when the red traffic light doesn’t turn green as soon as I’d like. What else do I groan and grumble about when I don’t want to wait? The long lines at the McDonald’s drive-thru? The slow teller at the bank? Am I setting an example of waiting quietly, or do I make sure everybody knows I’m not happy?"

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2. Patience is waiting eagerly

Hebrews 9:27-28 says, And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

Kate expounds on this in her article, saying, Am I eagerly waiting for Him? Or am I waiting with a begrudging, impatient heart?

According to Romans 8:19, 23, “... the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God .... And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

Is my life characterized by an eagerness for my own redemption? Do other people see eagerness in my words, my actions, my facial expressions? Or am I only waiting eagerly for earthly, material things?

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3. Patience is waiting until the end

Hebrews 6:15 says, “And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” Abraham waited patiently for God to lead him to the Promised Land – but remember that detour he took regarding the promise of an heir?

In Genesis 15:5, God told Abram his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. At the time, “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

Kate writes, "But maybe as the years past, Abram grew tired of waiting. Maybe his patience wore thin. The Bible doesn’t tell us what he was thinking, but when his wife, Sarai, suggested that Abram have a child with their slave, Hagar, Abram agreed.

If you read on in Genesis, you’ll see it didn’t go so well for Abram when he took things into his own hands rather than waiting for the Lord’s promise to be fulfilled. Waiting does not automatically produce patience.

“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:7-8)

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4. Patience is waiting expectantly

Maybe you had a legitimate God-given vision of successlike Abraham. But life took a wild turn, and the promise looks like it’s never going to happen.  

In Rebecca Barlow Jordan's article "3 Simple Ways to "Let Patience Have Its Perfect Work," she reminds us of Oswald Chambers' classic devotional My Utmost for His Highest. Chambers writes, "God gives us a vision, and then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of that vision. It is in the valley that so many of us give up and faint. Every God-given vision will become real if we will only have patience."

We know from Philippians 1:6 that God will finish what he starts. And the Psalmist encourages us to keep asking God for our request even while we’re waiting for Him to bring it about.

“In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” (Psalm 5:3)

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5. Patience is waiting joyfully

Rebecca also says this about patience:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

Sometimes our character has deep flaws that we can't see right now, but God can. And He won't ignore them. Gently, persistently, He prods us, helping us to see our sin. God doesn't give up. He's patient with us, even when we're not patient with Him. Of course, it's easier if we listen and obey the first time, but God will not stop purifying his people until we reach heaven. This trial of waiting doesn’t need to be only a painful season. You can be joyful that God is at work in your life. He is growing some good fruit in you!

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6. Patience is waiting with grace for yourself

This all is much easier said than done, right? Waiting with patience is not easy, and God knows this. The good news is that you don’t have to wait alone.

Romans 8:2-26 says, “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

God not only calls you to patience, but He also helps you in your weakness and prays for you. We cannot be patient on our own if we just try harder. Patients is a fruit of the Spirit, not of our flesh. Therefore, we need the Spirit’s help to grow it in our lives.

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The one thing we shouldn’t wait for

Finally, Kate writes: There are many things worth waiting for, and many things we should learn to be more patient about – but there is one thing we should definitely not postpone for another second. That is acknowledging Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives.

We have no idea when our time here will come to an end, or when Jesus Christ will return. It could be today. It could be tomorrow. But “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

If you haven’t acknowledged your need for a Savior and declared Jesus as Lord of your life, don’t wait another day.

This article was adapted from Kate Motaung's article, "How to Cultivate Patience in a World of Instant Gratification," and Rebecca Barlow Jordan's article "3 Simple Ways to "Let Patience Have Its Perfect Work,"' both originally published on iBelieve.com

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