The Christian virtue called ‘patience’ is prominent throughout the New Testament. It is a quality that should distinguish believers in an impatient and intolerant world.
- Horn blasting, steering wheel thumping, and incomprehensible mutterings as you tailgate.
- The exasperation of going through multiple phone steps to speak to a real person and then, when you get there, having to listen to company promos while you wait indefinitely.
- The anxiety of waiting to hear back from a job interview.
- The frustration of waiting for God to intervene in your life. “Why can’t He just snap His fingers and make it happen? This is getting ridiculous – does He even care about my situation?!!”
You aren’t the first person to struggle with such thoughts. Read the story of the Children of Israel.
From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Numbers 21:4-5
The thought is – they had become impatient, irritable, and angry. They were fed up with the wilderness experience!
“So much for this bright future Moses promised us! The time is long; the food is gross; the journey is tough and despite what you say Moses, anything would be better than this – even old Egypt!”
As harsh and unappreciative as the words of the Israelites may sound, sometimes we ourselves wallow in such negativity, frustration, and impatience.
The Christian virtue called ‘patience’ is prominent throughout the New Testament. It is a quality that should distinguish believers in an impatient and intolerant world. Watch for the words: patience, patient, patiently, longsuffering, forbearance, and endurance.
Sometimes we say “grin and bear it!” but we are really “grimacing and bearing it” against our will – while we utter inaudible words throughout the day. That is controlled impatience – not patience!
Longsuffering is one of the elements of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. Paul told Timothy to pursue patience. (1Timothy 6:11) Trials produce patience according to James 1:3,4. Peter talks about self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. (2Peter 1:6)
But you say: “Tempers and angry outbursts are just a part of my personality. It runs in our family. We tend to have short explosive fuses.” Sorry; that excuse doesn’t work. The ‘God of patience’ (Romans 15:5) values patience in our lives and will produce it in our lives if we will let Him.
What’s the difference between patience and longsuffering? Patience usually pertains to our approach to the circumstances of life; longsuffering usually refers to our attitude towards people. Not only is God the God of patience, but He is also the ‘longsuffering God’ towards people, not willing that any should perish. (2Peter 3:9)
Unless I am suffering from a disorder or depression – annoyance, frustration, short fuses, anger, and impatience are indicators of my distance from Christ – not closeness to Him. The more we study Christ in the Scriptures and get to know Him each day, the more evident ‘patience’ will become in our lives.
By the way, it is possible to accumulate extensive knowledge of the Bible (as a textbook) but fail to grow in our relationship with Christ. Intimacy with Christ, without fail, produces patience. Without fail. Patience and longsuffering are key indicators of my closeness to Christ.
Warmly in Christ
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