But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22,23
We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Hebrews 6:12
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
“Patience is a virtue.” Experience confirms the truth of that statement, but the statement isn’t found in the Bible. It is actually from a poem called the Piers Plowman written in 1360 by the English poet William Langland. Patience is listed 4th in the line up of the Fruit of the Spirit list as mentioned in Galatians 5:22, and it is certainly found in the character of God, especially when dealing with mankind. None of us could ever say that God has not been patient with us.
Yet patience is one of those funny virtues, in that it is a virtue until it’s not. Much like a banana, it’s ripe and good to eat, until its not. Patience can quickly become omission, laziness, stubbornness or even perhaps a sin of rebellion. It turns from trust and belief to selfishness and pride rather quickly.
There are many examples of patience in the Bible, but the shepherd boy, David is one of my favorites. David is anointed King of Israel, but ultimately must wait 22 years until the fulfillment of that anointing becomes a reality. We see in David’s experience that being patient doesn’t mean that he did nothing. When God gives a promise or in David’s case a calling, time becomes that wonderful space where patience is required by God in order for him to create events that lead to circumstances where that promise can become a reality. The fulfillment of the promise is divided up into incremental steps where God provides the guidance and space to step into that next place where the promise is ultimately ushered into reality. So, while patience is required throughout life’s journey, there are small faith steps that we all need to take as we abide in this virtue called patience.
David would never had become King had he not served his father in the field tending sheep, or served his brothers by bringing them food on the battle field, or served a mad king by playing a harp during his fits of depression or patiently lived in the wilderness fleeing a mad king waiting for God’s timing to bring the throne of Israel.
Most of the time, patience is not idly siting around, rather it is actively engaging the next thing all the while knowing that God is in control. Maybe we just need to come to the realization that, “It’s not me waiting on God, but rather, it’s God waiting for me to take the next step!” Thankfully, God being the perfect definition of patience is gracious in His provision and always helps us make up any mis-steps in both time and opportunity lost.
Patience, then, is a balance of trusting God and going for it. It asks us to remain in a place of listening, watching and being ready to do the next right thing. Patience is a virtue that hangs in the balance between what can be done today, and what God will bring tomorrow.