The annual cost of those who run red lights is over $7 billion dollars. This includes medical bills, car repairs, etc. The average time saved by running a red light is less than 50 seconds. So why do so many do it? Impatience.
Patience is a fruit, a product of God’s Spirit. It isn’t part of the equipment we are born with. Have you ever met a patient newborn? No one has to learn how to be impatient. We are automatically made that way – its part of our self-centered sin nature.
A French proverb says, “Laziness is often mistaken for patience.” Perhaps the opposite is also true, patience is often mistaken for laziness. A mother once chided her doctor, when her daughter was ill and she was worried. “Why don’t you do something?” she asked. “I am doing something,” replied the doctor. “I am waiting.” Many of us have trouble determining when we are being patient and when we are being lazy.
We can define patience as bearing difficulties without complaint, trusting in a greater reason or purpose behind them. The Bible uses four different Greek words that are translated in various ways as patience. Each of these words emphasizes one aspect in one way or another of what we think of as patience. Paul said the fruit of the Spirit is “makrothymia.” This is a compound Greek word made up of the words “makro” meaning long, and “thymia” meaning anger. So literally it means LONG TO ANGER as opposed to “oxythymia” which means sudden anger. Longsuffering gives us the picture a person who in relation to those who annoy, oppose, or molest him, exercise patience. He refuses to yield to passion or to outbursts of anger.
What’s so great about patience? Why does God want us to be patient? One reason is because He wants us to be like Him and He is patient (2 Peter 3:9). Another reason is because He knows it is best for us to patiently trust and wait.
Every fruit I know of has a protective outer layer. We peel a banana or orange to eat the fruit inside. Others fruit like an apple or grape we will eat skin and all. The outer layer serves an important purpose; it helps keep the moisture inside the fruit, even in dry seasons. The outer peel will also protect the fruit and allow it to grow. If the outer peel or skin is broken or removed, then the fruit will rot and spoil. Patience is like that for the soul of man. Patience protects our hearts from becoming rancid—bitter and rotten to the core. God wants our lives to be sweet and appealing to others; that’s the purpose of the fruit of the Spirit to give our lives the aroma and taste of Jesus! The practical practice of patience restores and protects relationships. Godly patience enables us to show mercy instead of hate, to forgive instead of seek revenge. “Patience is the ability to put up with people you’d like to put down.”
Patience is love enduring; it’s love that lasts and won’t be broken by anger. We are to be patient; with a long fuse we give allowances for each other’s faults and shortcomings. It only comes from staying closely attached to Jesus, the vine (John 15:5). Then when trials come it means we place our faith in Him and default to His timing instead of taking things into our own hands (Romans 5:3; James 1:2-4).
Patience is not idleness; it doesn’t mean you do nothing. Patience is active. The patient man is always ready to meet his neighbor halfway; instead of building fences, patience builds bridges to maintain relationships. Further, patience is not simply a character trait or quality an individual may possess. PATIENCE IS A LIFESTYLE! It is a way of life that affects all our relationships. Patience is an expression of love because love is patient. Patience, being slow to anger enables us to live a good life. Patience will keep us from embarrassing ourselves by what we say or do.
Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Isaiah 40:31 They that WAIT on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Would those who know you best say you are a patient person? Why or why not?
What seems to make you most impatient? What can you do about that?
Ask God to show you any impatience you may have within you now, then confess it as sin and ask Him to fill you with His Spirit and patience.
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)