It’s the word you hear as you stand in a long line. It’s the word you push away while you wait in traffic. What am I talking about? Patience.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience …” (Gal. 5:22 ESV). Yep. There’s the word we’re trying to avoid. But we can’t. Patience is a manifestation of the Spirit’s work in our lives. It’s not an option for the believer. But how? That’s the million-dollar question.
Let’s talk about road rage.
I don’t know about you, but I often get frustrated behind the wheel. Why? Because the speed limit means absolutely nothing to most people. When the sign says 55, it may as well say 60. When the sign says 60, it may as well say 65. I think you get the point.
Anyway, it makes me angry when people ride my tail. And just so you know, I don’t flip them off. I just grumble under my breath and try not to look at them.
Now, I know that’s a lame story about lacking patience. But stay with me.
You see, the Greek word for “patience” in Galatians 5:22 can also be translated as “long-tempered.” I know people who are “short-tempered.” Does that count? Nah. Impatience leads to anger. And the Bible says, “… anger gives a foothold to the devil” (Eph. 4:27 NLT). When we’re short-tempered, the results are typically ugly.
A couple of weeks ago, I talked about forgiveness. When it comes to forgiving others, I said it’s helpful to remember God’s forgiveness towards us. Well, the same is true when it comes to being patient. God is incredibly patient with us.
The Bible says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Pet. 3:9 NLT).
You see, sin angers God. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Rom. 1:18 ESV).
But God is full of love. And grace. And yes, patience. He is long-tempered towards humanity. We can be patient, too. Only by His strength. Only by His Spirit.
The way of patience is not an easy road. The key to growing in patience is growing closer to God. Namely through His Word and prayer.
You see, I can preach until I’m blue in the face. But if you don’t seek Jesus for yourself, then you’re not going to see much fruit. I’m learning to be patient, too. Trust me.
I don’t know about you, but I’m often restless. The opposite of being restless is being still. And God says, “‘Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10 ESV). Being patient means being still. It means resting in the grace of God.
The next time you’re struggling to be patient, meditate on His Word. Seek Him in prayer. Open more of your heart to the Holy Spirit. Remember, patience is a fruit of the Spirit. And by all means, don’t forget God’s patience towards you.