My patience is usually the first to go when I am at the end of my rope, overwhelmed, and too busy with life. Then I think, how easy is it for us to lose our patience when things take too long, we have to wait, and we don’t get instant gratification over something we hoped for? As someone who loves Jesus, I can pray for patience. However, I think it’s important to recognize that we already have access to patience as followers of Jesus. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22-23, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentlenesses, self-control; against such things, there is no law.” (Emphasis mine.) If one of the Spirit’s fruits is patience, why do we struggle with it? That’s the question I am going to answer today. How can we become a person who has patience and develops patience as a virtue?
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What Does Patience is a Virtue Mean
To understand what it means to say “patience is a virtue,” we must first understand virtues and vices. Virtues are good moral habits. Therefore, vices are bad moral habits. A good moral habit is an internal disposition to the good. Virtues are not moral laws or rules, which are external driving forces to good. The more virtuous we are, the more we have an internal disposition to the good that comes from our character formed by following Jesus.
The more virtuous we become, the less we need an outside force to tell us to do what is right and good. However, someone with more vices needs the “law” to compel them to do good. The more our relationship with Jesus deepens, the less we need an outside force compelling us to do good because our hearts are recalibrating towards His. We start to desire what He desires. We start to love what He loves.
“To be virtuous, a person will develop three specific characteristics, named using three Greek words. Arête is excellence in character that naturally exemplifies goodness, honesty, self-control, and other virtues. Phronesis is moral or practical wisdom that knows the right course to take in any circumstance. Eudaimonia is a bit different. It isn’t an internal characteristic but a good, flourishing life. Virtue ethics teaches that, by careful living, a person can develop all three qualities, thus embodying a character that is naturally moral, although external forces may damage or destroy eudaimonia.” (Read the full post on virtue ethics here!)
Therefore, having patience as a virtue means that who we are (our character) has an internal disposition to patience. We have trained ourselves in godliness so that when something happens in our lives, patience can flow out of us because we are abiding in the Vine.
John 15:4-5, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, it is he that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
How Does Patience Become a Virtue
Think of life like sailing a boat on a river. Vices are like heavy baggage you’re carrying on board, slowing you down and making the journey more difficult. They’re like burdensome luggage that might seem familiar and comfortable, but they weigh you down.
Now, virtues are like favorable winds propelling your boat forward. Focusing on virtues is akin to adjusting your sails to catch the wind, making the journey smoother and more enjoyable. When we follow Jesus, it’s like entrusting our navigation to a skilled captain.
Proverbs 3:6 encourages us to “acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make straight your paths.” By embracing virtues, we allow God’s guidance to steer our boat, helping us move forward on our life’s journey unencumbered by the baggage of vices.
Therefore, we do not think our way into a virtue. When we do something repeatedly, we often call that “second nature.” We will say something like, “That is just second nature to me.” We do something without thinking about it because we have trained ourselves to move and think in a very specific way over time.
First nature is when we spend time hardwiring our brains. Second nature is when something becomes so woven into who we are that it becomes as natural as breathing and blinking. If we are learning to have patience as a virtue, that means it is not just us memorizing the Ten Commandments or Colossians. Developing patience is a process of formation.
Becoming a Patient Person
As I mentioned above, becoming patient and having patience as a virtue will not come by merely memorizing scripture. Do we need to have the Word of God stored in our hearts? Yes. Is memorizing scripture important? Of course. However, we don’t develop our character by merely learning verses.
Often, our character develops in the throws of life, such as spending time with people and experiencing life. To be doers of the word means we must live the words in the pages we read.
Learning to be patient is like practicing a skill, such as playing a musical instrument. At first, it might seem hard, and we might not get it right away. Just as someone learning an instrument practices regularly to get better, developing patience involves practicing it regularly. It’s about repeatedly choosing to stay calm and composed, especially when things don’t go as planned. With time and practice, what was once difficult becomes more natural, and we find ourselves handling situations with patience more easily, much like a musician playing a piece smoothly after practicing it over and over.
Virtues are learned and acquired through practice and patience.
The Bible provides guidance on cultivating patience through various practices. Here are ten biblical principles and practices for developing patience:
- Prayer: Philippians 4:6-7 encourages us to bring our concerns to God through prayer, trusting in His timing and seeking His peace.
- Trusting God’s Timing: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reminds us that there is a time for everything, and trusting in God’s timing requires patience.
- Counting Trials as Joy: James 1:2-4 teaches that facing trials with joy leads to patience and spiritual maturity.
- Bearing with One Another: Ephesians 4:2 urges believers to bear with one another in love, demonstrating patience in relationships.
- Fruits of the Spirit: Galatians 5:22-23 lists patience as one of the fruits of the Spirit, emphasizing its importance in a Christian’s life.
- Waiting on the Lord: Psalm 27:14 encourages waiting patiently for the Lord and taking refuge in Him.
- Learning from Biblical Examples: Romans 15:4 suggests that through the Scriptures, we can learn patience from the examples of those who endured challenges.
- Practicing Love: 1 Corinthians 13:4 highlights that love is patient, emphasizing patience as a fundamental aspect of love.
- Endurance through Hope: Romans 8:25 teaches that patience is tied to hope, and waiting with endurance is part of the Christian journey.
- Seeking Wisdom: Proverbs 19:11 advises that a person’s wisdom yields patience, and it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
By incorporating these biblical principles into daily life, individuals can nurture a patient and Godly character, aligning their actions with the teachings found in the Scriptures. After practice, patience becomes a virtue.
Examples of How to Become Patient
Imagine you are stuck in traffic on your way to an important meeting. You are running late, and frustration starts to build as the minutes tick by. Instead of succumbing to road rage or dwelling on the delay, you take a deep breath and chooses patience. You decide to use the extra time productively, making a few work-related calls, listening to an educational podcast, or listening to your Bible app. By the time you arrive at the meeting, you are not only composed but have also turned what could have been a stressful situation into an opportunity for personal and professional growth. In this real-life example, patience in the face of a common frustration, like traffic, not only preserves emotional well-being but also transforms an inconvenience into a chance for productivity and spiritual growth.
Imagine you are a small business owner facing financial challenges. Bills are piling up, and you are feeling the pressure. Instead of panicking or making impulsive decisions, you turn to biblical principles of patience and decide to trust in God, recounting how He has provided before. You spend time in prayer, seeking guidance and wisdom. You also practice financial stewardship, cutting unnecessary expenses and managing resources wisely. While facing setbacks, you continue to work diligently and patiently, trusting that God’s timing is perfect.
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Bible Verses about Patience
James 5:7-8 (ESV):
“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
This passage encourages believers to patiently await the fulfillment of God’s promises, drawing a parallel to a farmer’s patient waiting for the harvest.
Galatians 6:9 (ESV):
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.”
Paul encourages believers to persist in doing good, promising a harvest of blessings for those who don’t give up.
Romans 12:12 (ESV):
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
This verse emphasizes the importance of patience during difficult times, intertwined with maintaining hope and a continuous connection with God through prayer.
Colossians 3:12 (ESV):
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”
Paul instructs believers to cultivate patience along with other virtues as part of a Christlike character.
1 Corinthians 13:4 (ESV):
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.”
The famous “love chapter” highlights patience as a fundamental aspect of genuine love wedged between how to use our gifts given by God.
Hebrews 6:15 (ESV):
“And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.”
The example of Abraham illustrates that patient waiting can lead to the fulfillment of God’s promises.
Psalm 37:7 (ESV):
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!”
The psalmist encourages believers to trust God’s timing, waiting patiently and avoiding distress over the success of the wicked.
Examples of Patience in the Bible
Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17-21): Abraham and Sarah waited many years for God to fulfill His promise of a son. Despite their old age (and trying to force God’s promises), they remained patient, and God eventually blessed them with the birth of Isaac.
Joseph’s Imprisonment (Genesis 39-41): Joseph faced numerous hardships, including being falsely accused and imprisoned. Through it all, he remained patient and faithful to God. Eventually, he was released from prison and became a powerful leader in Egypt.
David’s Wait to be King (1 Samuel 16-31): After being anointed as the future king of Israel, David endured years of challenges and threats from King Saul. Despite numerous opportunities to take matters into his own hands, David patiently waited for God’s timing to ascend to the throne.
The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32): Though not explicitly about patience, this parable highlights God’s patient and loving nature. The father patiently waits for his wayward son to return and welcomes him with open arms.
Following the Bible’s teachings, growing patience as a virtue is all about putting your trust in God’s timing and plan. Look at the stories in the Bible – figures like Job, Abraham, and Joseph. They faced tough times but held onto their faith in God. It’s a lesson in enduring challenges, keeping up with prayer, and relying on God’s control. These stories show us that going through tough times with consistent prayer and faith helps us grow spiritually.
The Bible says patience is a result of the Spirit, reminding us to wait on the Lord with hope and keep going. You can develop patience through prayer, putting the word of God into practice, and asking the Holy Spirit for guidance.