Patience- Positive Influence Trait #4


Ah Patience. It’s the fourth in line of the Fruit of the Spirit AND it’s the first descriptor of LOVE. But what on earth is patience?

Upon a quick google search I discovered a pretty simple definition of what Patience is.

Patience is defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. (Oxford English)

But I’m not super fond of this definition….I mean it’s good and all but this seems like it is built on our circumstances rather than how we LOVE people. Now in Galatians its not just talking about people it’s talking about our entire lives. The circumstances we have going on AND the people we deal with. Patience should be a trait of our entire lives.

So about our Circumstances

Hebrews10:36 says:

Patient endurance (the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way) is what you need now, so that you will continue to doGod’s will. THEN you will receive all that he promises. (NLT)

Life is difficult- running a race is difficult. the Bible talks about life being like a race. Not a 200 meter sprint but a long distance run. And it’s not a race AGAINST other people….it’s a race WITH people. I think we get the idea that if we can talk a good talk and look the part then we have succeeded as a Christian.

The whole time I am writing this a song is playing over and over in my head from my childhood. I was 14 when this song came out. the video impacted me greatly AND if you know my story you know that 14 was a big year. It was the year I had my eye surgery to repair one of my eyes. It’s not a Christian song by any means but it illustrates this patient endurance,

Standing Outside the fire by Garth Brooks. This song was pivotal for me. It was long before I knew the names ofAny of the Christian artists that echo through our home now.

There is a picture of a mom and a dad and a boy with Down Syndrome. Never in my wildest dreams did I picture that my future husband and I would be parents to a child with a developmental disability- but we are. Thankfully we both act as the mom did in this video. But there are plenty of people in this world who act as the dad and coach do at the beginning.

Patient Endurance isn’t easy

Endurance is slow- It’s not a matter of a fast kick off- it’s not full speed ahead. It means that you need to keep going. It’s not about not falling and not gettign banged up in the process it’s about picking yourself up dusting yourself off and finishing well. You keep the eye on the prize…..The prize is “Good Job faithful servant”.

I HIGHLY recommend the book Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. An allegory for the Christian life. Every person I know who has had a conversation with me about this book has said they have found themselves within the book. AND not always in the best places.

What about being Patient with the people in our lives?

So many times as Christians we to play the role of the dad and the coach declaring “Certain people don’t belong”. They don’t fit in our “RACE”. We want to run a clean elite race- OR better yet we want to sit in the stands and watch others RUN a GREAT CLEAN race. We are satisfied to turn on TV, Radio, or open a book and be spectators to other people’s races. We want to stand outside the fire. We don’t want to be patient with how God will use us in the race. We want to be used on our own terms. We don’t want to get too involved or in the too messy of situations.

But it is true in the song he says

Life is not tried it is merely survived
If you’re standing outside the fire

That’s not what the Christian walk is all about. We are called (all of us, not just the pastors, missionaries or other full time Christian worker) to get our hands dirty in ministry. We are not called to be consumer Christians.

The Church’s attitude

Now I know that this isn’t a Christian Song but the attitudes are the same.

The opening stanzas of the song depict what kinds of people fit and our attitudes towards them.

We call them cool
Those hearts that have no scars to show
The ones that never do let go
And risk it the tables being turned

We call them fools
Who have to dance within the flame
Who chance the sorrow and the shame
That always come with getting burned…..

…….We call them strong
Those who can face this world alone
Who seem to get by on their own
Those who will never take the fall

We call them weak
Who are unable to resist
The slightest chance love might exist
And for that forsake it all

The difference between these two sets of people is one makes us comfortable and one makes us uncomfortable. One pushes our LOVE. The other is EASY . And I had some questions about how to be patient with BOTH sets of people.

I went back to the Bible…..

and did a quick word search for “Patient” And the verse I landed on was PERFECT!

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults BECAUSE OF YOUR LOVE!! (Ephesians 4:2 NLT)

Wait WHAT?

Yes you read that right..”.Because of your love”. So the first building block of the Fruit of the Spirit is LOVE and because of that LOVE we CAN have Patience!

This isn’t a new concept for me. See I know this really cute pastor (Ahem -my husband) that taught this very concept of the Fruit of the Spirit being a series of attributes and as you grow you add more steps.

And we will se this as we move throughout the rest of the traits. YOU CANNOT HAVE ANY of the other nine traits if you don’t first have LOVE. Love is the root of all this other traits.

Let’s be Honest though…..

The reason we don’t have patience to begin with is because we don’t want to LOVE THEM ( who is your THEM?)…..for each one of us THEM is different…..and usually it’s because they are way too different from me.

  • Senior Adults vs Children
  • Teenagers vs Teenagers
  • Christians VS EVERYONE
  • various Races against other Races
  • Democrats vs Repbulicans (And vice versa)
  • People with disabilities vs those who do not
  • and the list is never ending.

For every way we have a difference there is an opposing force ready to let us know how unloved and impatient they are with us. (Note I am not saying that we need to agree on everything- There can still be right and wrong AND love and patience..

Let’s not miss the HOW of being patient

Right smack in the middle of the verse it gives us the “how” ro be patient.

“Making allowance for each others faults”.

” EACH OTHER’S FAULTS”. That indicates SIN !

Oh man this goes against all of culture that says- “I need to protect me”. (Now let me be very clear. THIS ISN’T ABOUT ABUSE. I have spent a huge part of my adult life helping people who have endured and come out of abusive relationships.). This is about the everyday stuff.

This is solely about us being humans and having faults. We all make mistakes and we all have a sin nature. But it is our nature to be like, ” well that person has 3 strikes and then they are out!” Life is not a baseball game people and we need to stop burning bridges. I COMPLETELY understand what it means to be hurt by people. But in the same respect I also have seen some amazing stories of people who were patient and loving and God took that and built something beautiful out of a very messy situation.

Forgiveness is the Root of Patience.

As I sit here writing this I think about all the times I have been impatient with people and it’s a lot. And as I contemplate WHY I was impatient with them, it comes right down to mostly the same things I hear myself say over and over again.

  • They didn’t do it MY way
  • They hurt ME
  • They didn’t do it fast enough….for ME
  • They made ME uncomfortable.
  • I didn’t like what they did.
  • That’s not the way I want it,

We throw a proverbial hissy fit. We revert back to our two year old selves and say “fine if it can’t be my way than I’m taking my toys and going home”.

And we forget the forgiveness given to us. Jesus is our example in this patience and forgiveness.

Forgiveness says ” I have messed up many times and yet Jesus still loves me. He died for ALL of my mistakes. And because he did that I can forgive_______ for _______. Patience is meeting a person where they are at NOT where you want them to be. Patience doesn’t live in expectations of others.

A Big Contrast

This stark contrast is seen in the difference between Jesus and the Pharisees. Jesus wanted to be whole and free from whatever was holding them back. The Pharisees were unhappy with the outcome as they saw it and wanted to make an example of those who didn’t meet the expectations.

Who had the Bigger influence? Jesus who met people in their messes and patiently loved them to a right relationship with God or the Pharisees who lived by the unattainable laws they had created (because the standards of what God gave wasn’t enough)?


Jesus had the biggest POSITIVE influence and the Pharisees had the biggest NEGATIVE influence. And we can tell that by the OUTCOMES of how they treated people.

Jesus’ patience resulted in changed lives. The people who were changed by his loving patience went out and excitedly told other people.They turned away from their sin and said “Look what Jesus did for me”. Or Jesus wasn’t;t afraid of the law- He knew that uncleanness wasn’t what was most important. He HEALED PEOPLE

The Pharisees on the other hand invoked a spirit of fear and dread. Their reputation was known as being judgmental and exclusive. The made scars deeper. They hurt people. Physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Now it’s Your turn

So have you ever experienced impatience at the hand of someone else? Did it have a positive or negative influence on your life? Do you struggle with with patience like me? What is a perspective change you can make so you can become more patient either in your circumstances or with people?

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