But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)
One of the Greek dictionaries I had gave two rather long definitions. The first was, “patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance, especially as shown in bearing troubles and ills.” The second was, “Patience, forbearance, longsuffering, slowness in avenging wrongs.”
I’ll be honest, just thinking of all the implications of what this means to us convicts the fire out of me. If we were to sum all of this up it would mean that when the Holy Spirit produces longsuffering/patience in us we will patiently put up with other people and we will persevere without giving up or giving in no matter what kind of opposition we face. That’s pretty challenging stuff. Here are a few truths about patience that we need to know.
Patience Is A Characteristic Of God.
“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4 (NKJV) God’s patience with us keeps Him from pouring out His wrath on us and gives us more time to repent. What this means for us is that we are to be patient/longsuffering with others in the same way that God is patient/longsuffering with us.
William Barclay said, “If God had been like us, he would have wiped out this world long ago; but he has that patience which puts up with all our sinning and will not reject us. In our dealings with one another, we must reproduce this loving, forbearing, forgiving patient attitude of God towards ourselves.”
Patience Is Required To Walk Worthy Of Our Calling In Christ
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3 (NKJV)
Patience Is Required To Be Faithful In Ministry.
According to Scripture every Christian is in ministry. The most basic definition of Ministry is to serve God by serving others. This is something that every Christian is supposed to be involved it. It’s also important to remember that there will be times when ministry is hard. We prove our faithfulness in ministry by keeping on ministering despite it being hard.
“But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings;” 2 Corinthians 6:4-5 (NKJV)
So what can we do to develop this kind of patience/longsuffering in our lives? Let me give you a four ways to develop this kind of patience/longsuffering.
Think, Then Speak.
Take some time and go through the book of Proverbs and see what it says about restraining our anger and control our tongue. Basically what it says is that those who restrain their anger and control their tongues are wise while those who act in anger and run off at the mouth are fools. It’s all pretty challenging stuff. The principle behind much of it is to think and then speak. When it comes to being patient with other people this is one of the most practical things we can do. It’s also very Biblical.
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20 (NKJV)
Realize Quitting Is A Choice.
I think this is one of the toughest principles for many to accept but I think it’s an important one. While there may well be exceptions, for the most part quitting is a choice we make and not something we are forced to do.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1 (NKJV)
When problems knock us down we need to get back up and run with endurance the race that is set before us. I’m sure that after being knocked down taking a bit of a break is okay. But we have to be careful that a break doesn’t turn into quitting.
Want To Have Patience.
I think that one of the main reasons we aren’t as patient and longsuffering as we should be, and really as we can be, is because we don’t want to be. How many times have you heard someone say, “Well maybe I shouldn’t have said it, but I’m going to speak my mind”? They say it as if speaking their mind and saying whatever they want to someone is their God given right. When the reality is what God wants is for them to be patient and hold their tongue. The people that use this excuse don’t want to be patient. They want to speak their mind. They want to tell people off. Until their desire changes they will never have the kind of patience that God wants them to have.
At the same time when it comes to keep on keeping on many people will use similar reasoning for quitting. Things like, “I don’t have to put up with this” or “It’s not like this is my job” basically display the same attitude we talked about above. Quitting is their right. It’s their answer when things are harder than they want to deal with. Those with this attitude don’t want to be patient in ministry. They want to quit when ministry ceases to be easy or fun. Until their desire changes they will never have the kind of patience that God wants them to have.
Surrender To God.
God rarely forces us to grow and change in these ways. Instead He lays out the best way, which is His way, and then desires that we willingly choose this way. God wants us to be as patient with others as He has been with us. He wants us to keep on in ministry even when it gets hard.
This is an act of surrender on our parts. It is surrendering our will to God’s will. It is saying that since God’s way is best I will submit to God’s way. When we talk about submission and surrender one of the most important aspects about it to remember is that it’s not surrender or submission until we DON’T want to do it. Surrendering or submitting to God is saying, “Even though this isn’t what I want to do I’m going to do it since it’s what you want me to do.”
 J. H. Thayer, trans., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
 William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible, The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, pg 61