“In everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in difficulties, in beatings, in imprisonments, in mob attacks, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love.” (2 Corinthians 6:4-6)
Some people seem more naturally patient than others. I’m not one of those people, but that’s not for lack of trying. Unfortunately, my “trying to be patient” never helped me maintain any consistent level of patience.
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore tells Harry…
“It’s not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.”
Fortunately, this holds true for patience. We can make choices that serve to cultivate consistent patience. We can:
- Let the Holy Spirit cultivate patience in us. We do this by becoming increasingly aware of and following His convicting, guiding and encouraging us as well as his focusing, enabling, and teaching us. (John 14:16-17)
- Make basic physical needs a priority. If I’m tired, hungry, or overwhelmed, I have almost no shot at maintaining any level of patience for very long, if at all. (Genesis 25:29-34)
- Stop avoiding the difficult stuff. We cultivate patience by practicing it. If we avoid difficult situations and people, we simply won’t see significant growth with patience. (Romans 5:3)
- Look for examples to emulate. Spending time with patient people helps us see how patience is lived out. Being married to one of the most insanely patient people I’ve ever met has drawn me toward patient habits.
- Live in forgiveness. Simply put, the quicker I forgive myself and others, the more patience I have with myself and others. (Colossians 3:12-13)
- Learn to control what you say. Talking about frustrations, especially when I’m emotional, decreases patience. The sooner I move on from the discussion, the quicker I get back around to patience. (Proverbs 25:15)
- Stay aware of patience levels. Everyone has limits with regard to patience. We must stay aware of when patience is running thin and learn to walk away before it runs out. We must follow Joseph’s example when Potipher’s wife continued pursuing him. (Genesis 39)
- Know what you can and can’t control. No matter how much I try, I cannot control other people. I struggle enough trying to control myself. So, I’m learning to control what I can and to not let the rest eat at me so much. Knowing what I can and can’t control takes the stress off my patience muscle in a huge way.
- Wait for God’s timing. Most people know the saying, “Patience is a Virtue.” It involves trusting in God’s timing and waiting on him and letting his proof of faithfulness increases our faith as we learn that he handles a great deal of our lives if we simply let him and refuse to get out of his will. (Psalm 5:3, Psalm 25:5, Psalm 27:14, Psalm 62:5; Proverbs 20:22)
Knowing I can partner with the Holy Sirit to cultivate patience encourages me in tremendous ways because I realize that I don’t have to try and create and maintain patience in my own effort. Partnering in this way not only multiplies the tools available for cultivating patience, but it also helps me understand why patience is so important.
Why is Patience Important?
Personally, understanding “why” goes a long way in fueling my patience. More important than asking why patience should be important to me, I want to know why it’s important to God. Here’s what he says:
- Patience proves — shows evidence of — Godly character. (Romans 5:3)
- Patience shows our love for others. (1 Corinthians 13:1)
- Patience is part of our Christian clothing. (Colossians 3:12)
- Patience shows us worthy of the calling of Christ. (Ephesians 4:1-2)
- Patience illustrates our choice to follow flesh or spirit. (Romans 8:12-17)
We have to remember that we simply cannot consistently practice patience — or any of the other fruit of the Spirit — in our own efforts. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit partners with us to accomplish patience in and through us. When we let him do this work in us, our Godly character becomes a testimony of patience to others.