We come now to the fourth manifestation of fruit of the spirit, and that of patience. I can say without a doubt this is a manifestation that is really missing from our current culture. Even the worst of parents can muster some love for their children and the most difficult person can see some joy in simple things of life, but our culture has long been moving toward lack of patience, mostly brought on by modern convenience.
We have become accustomed to going to fast-food restaurants and getting everything we want within only a few minutes. Our modern on-demand life means that we log into a digital account to see the movies and even the television programs we want exactly when we want them. We can record our favorite programs for later and skip through the boring commercials, and lets not forget that even the most rules-focused people think nothing of breaking the speed limit just to get home a few minutes sooner. We are in a rush and anything that slows us down pushes the buttons of patience. It is my belief that our cultures increase in violence is because more and more people are simply losing their minds when things do not go their way. Indeed, more patience would go a long way to help our culture survive.
Patience is often translated by the word longsuffering, which is a little more descriptive concerning our hearts. Our spirit suffers when things do not go our way, but as Christ begins to indwell us, we recognize that we are not in control. Once we relinquish control of our life to Christ, we start to see that things will not always go our way. We may have to wait a while to reap benefits of our work, and we may never see the end result of some of our labors. Should we be any different than our fathers in faith? Hebrews 11:39-40 says And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect. Let us move toward God knowing that once we are saved, He does have our best in mind, whether on this earth or later in heaven.
Patience itself encompasses many aspects. John MacArthur writes about longsuffering saying the concept covers kindness, humility, meekness, gentleness, and self-control. I can personally attest to these traits as I grew in Christ over the years. When I was not saved, I was probably the rudest person that you would have known, but as I grew in the love, joy, and peace of Christ, kindness began to indwell me and I no longer hated the human race. Humility steps in when we realize that we are wrong to want everything for ourselves and to want it now. Meekness means to have power under control and to have meekness as a component of patience means that instead of blowing up with my strength or knowledge, I can instead sit back and wait in all gentleness. Self-control fits well into patience because I can keep the inner turmoil to myself as I patiently turn to God. So you can see that patience is truly a manifestation of the fruit of the spirit because it moves us from our natural desires to want everything for ourselves toward focusing on what God would instead have in store for us. Patience takes a while to build up in ourselves, and focusing on God's word can help us achieve a longsuffering attitude.
The Bible commands us in many places to be patient as a trait that is desirable among believers. Christ is our ultimate role-model in the importance and the purpose of patience:
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed (1 Peter 2:22-24).
Paul commands us that we have been chosen by God, that we should likewise put on patience among other traits:
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you (Colossians 3:12-13). I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction (2 Timothy 4:1-2).
Ultimately, we should demonstrate patience with others because God was first patient with us:
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:8-9).
Panic could easily overtake us if we realized just what our condition would be if God were not patient with us, and in thankful worship to Him, let us pay our life joy forward be demonstrating the same patience towards others. Let us seek to be patient with our loved ones, be they friends or children, or even showing patience to the strangers who drive too slow in front of us or seem to take forever in the grocery store. Live patiently.