A Deeper Study of the Fruit of the Spirit: Patience

Contributing Writer
A Deeper Study of the Fruit of the Spirit: Patience

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

People often joke that you should never pray for more patience (or forbearance). Why would we request roadblocks and waiting in our lives?

When was the last time that you prayed for patience? We should desire to produce all of the fruits of the Spirit, and patience is one of them. Praying for patience does not guarantee we are going to sit in hour long traffic or never get a turn at the checkout line. Even if those things happened, we know that desiring to have lives that are Spirit-filled and emulate Christ are worthy of our pursuit. Today we will study the fruit of patience.

Patience in the Greek

The Greek word found in Galatians 5:22 is makrothumia. It means, “Patience, long-suffering.” Patience involves suffering, and Jesus was a man who suffered much (1 Peter 4:1). We, as believers, are invited into that suffering with Him.

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me’” (Matthew 16:24).

Personally, I do not like the word long connected with suffering. I prefer short and over. However, what is the greater work of the Spirit within us when He gives us more time? The longer our child has the tantrum, the more we realize that we cannot parent well without His help. The longer the wait for our dream job, the more grateful we are when we have the opportunity. The longer we go through sickness, the more humble we become in the process.

Lack of Patience Can Lead to Other Sins

Impatience can lead us to a multitude of sins. A few that come to mind include: 

  • Hurtful words
  • Evil thoughts
  • Bitterness
  • Stealing
  • Adultery
  • Rage

Pastor John Piper once said, “Impatience is a form of unbelief. It’s what we begin to feel when we start to doubt the wisdom of God’s timing or the goodness of his guidance. It springs up in our hearts when the road to success gets muddy, or strewn with boulders, or blocked by some fallen tree.”

Just this morning I took my toddler son out into the garage to put on his shoes that were in the car. I had to get my purse with the keys to unlock the car. As I carried him with me to place the purse back inside of the house, he melted down, screaming and kicking. He wanted to go outside right then and thought that I was taking him back inside. But I simply needed my purse to be in the house. I told him what I was doing as he protested, and then finally after I closed the door and we headed out to the yard, he calmed down.

My son wanted his way right then. However, I knew things that he did not. I needed to protect my purse and my car from being stolen. Sure, the odds of that are low, but I needed to be wise.

How often will we protest at God for a seemingly frustrating, long-suffering situation?

We wrestle with thoughts such as:

“Why is He taking so long to answer the prayer the way that I want?”

“God, I am supposed to be going this direction, why are you taking me this way instead?”

“Jesus, do you even hear me or see me right now?”

We are the “spiritual toddlers” when our impatience gets the best of us. We react as if it is a life-or-death situation, but Jesus is just stopping by the kitchen on our way to the backyard. He is so faithful. He is with us. He sees things that we cannot understand. When He asks us to be patient, it is for reasons like refining us more into His image, building character and steadfastness in our lives, becoming testimonies to others, and growing our faith in Him regardless of our circumstances.

“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4).

Eternal Perspective

2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

How can our troubles be called “light and momentary?” We face sickness, unmet longings, thorns of sin, relational brokenness, grief, and more. Our troubles seem endless and overwhelming. Our prayers appear to be unanswered. Our patience is running thin. That is the problem. Our own patience will never get us through. We have to rely on Spirit-filled patience.

Did you expect to suffer less as a Christian? Sometimes, I think I don’t always realize what I have signed up for. Most of the first disciples were martyred for their faith in Jesus. People lose families, jobs, friends, financial security, all for the sake of Christ. We battle demonic forces. We battle our own sin nature. It can be exhausting. It can seem long. However, Jesus already has given us the victory. We have won.

On days when our patience is running low, may we have the boldness to cry out to God and ask Him to provide us with the fruit we are not living out and frankly do not even desire. Patience is hard. Patience is stretching. But patience is good and patience is holy.

Many times, I find myself trying to be patient for my own dreams or desires. When the Spirit of God and His Word guides me, I am reminded that my dreams are valuable to Him, but He is the ultimate dream. I have everything that I need in Him. Right now, I do not have to wait on the Messiah, He has already come. I do not have to wait for the Spirit, I have Him. I do not have to wait for freedom, it is mine.

When I am tempted to be impatient, may I remember and thank God for all of the ways that He has already provided for me. There are so many things that I do not have to wait for anymore. His salvation is here. His mercy is now.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10).

Your waiting and patience may not feel like “a little while” right now. However, when you have Jesus, you can cling to the hope that He is the God of all grace and will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. Your patience will be rewarded. Your long-awaited Savior will return. We do still eagerly await the day when Jesus will come back for us. Until then, we can rely on His strength to live out the fruit of patience each day for His glory and a testimony of His love for the world.

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Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Oliver Rossi

Emma DanzeyEmma Danzey’s mission in life stems from Ephesians 3:20-21, to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. She is wife to Drew and mom to Graham. Emma serves alongside her husband in ministry, she focuses most of her time in the home, but loves to provide articles on the Bible, life questions, and Christian lifestyle. Her article on Interracial Marriage was the number 1 on Crosswalk in 2021. Most recently, Emma released Treasures for Tots, (Scripture memory songs) for young children. During her ministry career, Emma has released Wildflower: Blooming Through Singleness, two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, and ran the Refined Magazine. You can view her articles on her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com and check out her Instagram @Emmadanzey.