The word for patience here is “hypomonea” meaning cheerful endurance or perseverance, long-suffering or long-tempered. It is the fruit that allows us to look at people and not their circumstances or behaviour. The part of us that can see beyond the surface to find the true person that God created and loves.
Today let’s look at what God’s Word has to say about what patience means:
Patience Means That …
I. I Regard the Forbearance of God
Let me read a couple verses about God’s forbearance.
2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Numbers 14:18 - ’The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.’
Moses was standing on Mt Sinai getting the Ten Commandments carved by God when in Exodus 34:5-7 “Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished"
Psalm 103:8-11 – “The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him”
Romans 2:4 – “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”
God has been incredibly patient with us through the millennia, but did you catch the catch in all those verses? Guilt has to be punished if we do not fear him and if there is no repentance. Oh how we love to leave those parts out so all we hear is the love and patience, and forgiveness.
God loves people like we never could, but he hates sin and evil and cannot tolerate it in his kingdom, or it would not be perfect and holy. When he punishes, he is punishing the evil, not the person, so that we will repent and stop what we are doing. Just like our parents did.
So we remember God’s steadfast love and patience with us and seek to do the same.
Patience also means that:
II. I Realize that I am not Perfect Myself
I have to read Jesus famous words in Matthew 7 - "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ’Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
How about this in 1 Peter 1:12-14 – “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service. 13Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”
Not one person in the Bible was perfect except Jesus himself, and you and I will never be perfect. So how can we judge and be impatient with others. Some people will say “yeah but I am not as bad as that sinner.” Well, show me where God says that murder is worse than lying. Sin is sin. We all do it and it doesn’t matter if it is a speck or a log, we are all in the same boat and need to treat each other that way.
Patience means that:
III. I Reflect the Peace that I Have Inside
The last fruit we explored was peace. It should show that all is right inside us, and impatience reflects inner turmoil, not peace. Do you think God is up there wringing his hands nervously watching us mess up? Let me read from:
Colossians 1:11-14 – “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
God gives us the power through the Spirit to have great endurance and patience, but more than that we can be joyful about it because of what he has done for us.
Here’s one I am sure you can relate to. You’re in a hurry to get somewhere and your wife or girlfriend, or kids don’t share your sense of urgency. There you are waiting at the door or in the car for them to get ready to go. Now what are you experiencing inside? Are you peacefully watching the wind blow the flowers gently back and forth in the garden? Do you pull out the owner’s manual for the car and with great interest read about the option on your car that you didn’t know you had?
Or are you in a somewhat different frame of mind? Do you find yourself asking, “What is more important, being late, or the people I am waiting for? If God can watch us destroy ourselves and his creation and peacefully sit back, perhaps we can show a little more patience when things are not going quite as we planned. You might be amazed at what God gives you when you peacefully wait rather than stress out and get angry. Maybe it’s a spiritual opportunity that you would not have otherwise had.
The fourth thing that patience means is that:
IV. I Respond to Others with Endurance not Retaliation
A few games ago our second baseman got hammered by someone sliding into him. He was in front of the base and was fair game. The other player didn’t raise his spikes but just slid hard, that’s what you are supposed to do. Well, the other guy got up and was expecting some retaliation telling our guy he should have gotten out of the way. Our second baseman, who happens to be a pastor as well, said “good slide, I deserved that one.” The guy then apologized and asked how he was doing.
Some may call that weakness, I call it class, and I think Jesus would approve.
One of the things that bothers me most about hockey, especially back when I played, was that there always had to be payback for clean hits. Body checking is part of the game and I liked to dish them out. I also didn’t mind receiving them if it was a clean check, in fact I would often say “nice hit”.
When I got to junior, the coaches would say, are you gonna let him get away with that? I want you to go out and drop the gloves with him next shift. I never did. I would rather hit with my shoulders than my fists, it hurts way less. I even started shying away from dishing out body checks, because I knew that even if I gave a clean one, the other guy would feel the need to fight.
I didn’t even know the Bible back then, but now I know that the Bible is very clear about this for Christians.
Ephesians 4:1-3 – “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 – “And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.”
1 Corinthians 13:4 – “Love is patient and kind.”
And of course the words of Jesus that most of us know from Matthew 5:38-41 - "You have heard that it was said, ’Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”
This is how we convict others and glorify God. It doesn’t get any clearer than that, and of course it’s difficult, but with the Spiritual Fruit of Patience and Self-Control it’s possible. I know people that fantasize about revenge for years, even lifetimes, those poor people. Sometimes I would jokingly tell them, “well quit taking up mental space and emotion fantasizing, go ahead and do it for crying out loud, get it over with if you can’t let it go”. To my knowledge, nobody actually followed my advice and dished out the revenge.
If patience means I don’t retaliate, it also means:
V. I Refuse to Harbour Resentment, but Rather Forgive
We have talked about forgiveness before but we need to be reminded of it because I have observed that when it comes to unforgiveness and for that matter judging, Christians are at least as bad if not worse than non-believers.
I challenge anyone to come up to me and tell me how it is more of a benefit to anyone to hold onto resentment and unforgiveness than to let it go and forgive. I guarantee you will not win that argument.
A small sample from the New Testament just scratches the surface: Forgive and you will be forgiven by God, forgive everyone who sins against us, forgive your brother from your heart as many times as he sins against you, forgive as the Lord forgave you, and so on and so on. There is freedom in forgiveness at least for the person doing the forgiving, and if you want the peace that we talked about last time, you absolutely will never have it until you get rid of all resentment you harbour.
Finally patience means that:
VI. I Remember that the Lord will Ultimately Judge Every Action
Because God judges all people’s actions, he will also judge ours if we go against what he says and don’t bear these spiritual fruit. That knowledge should comfort us as much as it motivates us because we know that God’s justice will prevail, and we can wait patiently for his great plan to unfold, rather than trying to force the issue ourselves.
Here is a fantastic passage from the book of James 5:7-11 that illustrates this perfectly:
“Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
10Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”
We can only have patience with others if we have faith in God even if we can’t have faith in people. We cannot call ourselves Christians and take matters of justice into our own hands, that shows that we don’t believe the Word of God. And it surprises me how many long time Christians wrack themselves with stress by not allowing the fruit of patience to be manifest in their lives.
I am going to close by repeating this again. We must abide in the vine in order for these fruit to bear in us. We must seek the Lord in every circumstance with every person in our lives for us to be able to be patient as God is patient.
Do you see how amazing God is? He wants us all to be like Him and has given his Spirit to make it possible. Do you want to be a patient person? That might be the most important question. Like I said earlier, patience can be interpreted by the world as passive and meek. But who did Jesus say would inherit the Kingdom? I’ll leave you with that.