22 But the fruit of the spirit is…patience
Patience is a rejected gift.
Patience is the one fruit of the spirit we don’t really celebrate or like. However, it is the one thing that we need the most when we are dealing with difficulties, and while it usually is cultivated during the hard seasons in life, it can and should be practiced during the easy and fun seasons of life so that we will be ready. Patience is like a set of weights and our muscular system. The more we choose to embrace now, the easier it will become to exercise when all hell is breaking loose later.
God designed us to require patience, and yet there are people who say we should not pray for it.
I don’t live in that kind of unbiblical fear.
We are responsible to pray for–and embrace—patience.
It is when we do not actively pursue lessons of patience that we are unable to walk well in James’ command in 1:2 when trials come. The more adept we become at cultivating patience, the more patience we will have, and the easier it will be for us to maintain joy when trials come. The more patience we choose to cultivate in the seasons when we don’t need it, the easier the sequence of Romans 5:3-5 will become in the seasons when we do need patience. Patience is critical in times of suffering. Embracing suffering and combining it with patience yields endurance, then character, then hope, then the outpouring of the breakthrough that God wants us to have by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The end result of this steadfastness, which comes through the practice and execution of patience, is the possession of the crown of life (James 1:12).
So, what is patience?
Greek μακροθυμία (makrothoomia), which is a compound word:
1) Makro means “long” or “far”
2) Thoomia means “desire” or “passion”.
And passion is not just being excited about something so that you can convey the ideas “passionately” with zeal and intensity. That is what much of the modern church thinks of when they think of passion. To much of the church, “passion” is a glorified word for “intensity” and “fervor”.
No, actually passion is actually a Latin word that specifically carries the idea of suffering. The things that you are passionate about are also the things for which you are willing to suffer. If you are not willing to suffer for something that you are intensely communicating on social media, then you are not passionate. Rather, you are a keyboard warrior.
The 11 and Paul were passionate about Jesus.
This is where some translations render this word as “longsuffering” as opposed to “patience”.
Further, this leads me to another dynamic. James 1:24 says, be doers of the word and not merely hearers. So, in short, you are not only willing to suffer, and if need be, die for those things about which you are passionate. You are also willing to live for those very things, as well. You are willing to obey what you have heard, even if it means dying to yourself and being crucified together with Christ so that Christ in you may live.
Patience is that “over and over” fruit of the spirit. It is the one fruit that keeps us coming back for more when everyone and everything else is telling us to quit. Patience is that one fruit that keeps us listening to the Lord when His voice is the only voice that is encouraging us to continue when every single other voice is speaking something different, and when our friends turn into Job’s friends. Having large storehouses of patience enables us to push through when others would give up. Through patience, Jesus finished his race joyfully and endured the cross (Hebrews 12:1-2), and Paul endured his course, as detailed in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28.
Patience is what keeps us pursuing after the things we are passionate about, the things for which we are willing to suffer. Patience keeps us in the game long after everyone else has quit.
So, what is the root of patience?
Consider the following from Romans 8.
“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:25)
Hope causes us to wait for the things that have not come with patience. Thus, hope is the root of patience. Hope is our reason for waiting.
Jesus is our Blessed Hope (Titus 2:1-3). Therefore, we wait for his appearing with patience.
Patience is what enables us to bear with one another in love, especially when another believer is acting like a knucklehead.
And again from James 5:
10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.
11 You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
That right there is a punch line for us. Job was an example of one who walked in patience. Yeah, Job, who endured hardship and lost everything, so much so that his friends turned into accusers. Job was not so far removed from us, given that he was a man of frailty just like us. How does that sound? When you know you are right in something and your friends and family, even your own spouse, all turn against you, patience causes you to continue in the thing to which God has called you.
This is a hard thing to consider, but it is worthwhile, and it leads us to the place where we can embrace longsuffering. So, as you are considering the fruit of patience, also consider what could be required of you.