The fourth fruit of the spirit, patience, is one quality that, while it may not be absolutely critical, will make our lives and the lives of others so much easier. In other words, being patient isn’t going to get you to heaven, but it will make you and the people around you far happier and much less stressed.
In my opinion, there are three main things we need to be patient with.
1: Other people. We have to start by doing our best to be patient with the people who are part of our everyday life; especially those who we are trying to help by teaching them things. We can all learn this from past experience, throughout our time we have all learnt many lessons from many different people, but isn’t it so much easier to learn from someone who was patient? Think of times when you were trying to learn something new; of course you probably made mistakes, but the more you did it the fewer mistakes you made. Then think who was teaching you, was it a patient person who gently explained what you had done wrong, and then advised you how to fix it; or was it an irritable person who just yelled at you and made you feel uncomfortable? Of course, learning with a patient person was much easier, so if we don’t have patience, then we are never going to be able to be very helpful teaching anyone, which is frustrating for us and them. Paul tells us a couple of times in his letters to be patient with younger/weaker people. Ephesians 4:2 says “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” also 1 Thessalonians 5:14 “And we urge you, brothers … encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” Isn’t it obvious what the Bible wants us to do?
2: Things. What I mean by this is that if we aren’t patient, then we can waste a lot of unnecessary time and money. In monetary terms, that is particularly true. It would be foolish when, say, buying a new car, to just buy the first car under our budget without even checking the mileage, servicing condition, and distance from where we are, just for the sake of getting it quickly; surely it’s far better to wait for a good car that meets all our requirements to come along. That principle is true for many things, there’s no point spending loads of money just because we couldn’t be patient and wait for the right item to come along; personally I’ve got evidence of that, when my old mattress wore out, instead of just rushing of and buying a new one, I waited and got a really good foam one for free on the internet. A lack of patience with things really is quite expensive!
3: God. We need to be patient and trust God in everything, when we are having hard times we just need to be patient and wait for God to intervene. That is clearly stated in Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” So surely if we are not patient with God, then that can only serve to weaken our relationship with him.
Annoyingly, though, as hard as we try, we will never have total patience; there will always be times when we are tired and irritated and we lose our cool, but patience is about limiting those times so much that we can control ourselves enough not to lose it with people who are annoying us. That is the mark of a truly patient person.