Patience is one of the most common themes throughout the New Testament. Patience is born of Love, grace and mercy and is an attribute of God Himself. But with the strength and importance of purpose that patience has, the word itself is only mentioned 34 times in the New Testament and never in the Old Testament.
Patience is a backbone tenet of Christianity. But it often is confused with a false sense of forgiveness, humility and faith. Sometimes a Christian suffers under the auspices of Christian patience laboring under the idea that patience, permissiveness and passiveness are all the same thing. They are not.
What Is Patience?
So what is this “patience” of God this patience which is a display of righteousness?
John Wesley said divine patience is, “…a disposition to suffer whatever pleases God, in the manner and for the time that pleases him”.
The classic New Testament Greek meaning of patience is a “…characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings” (Thayer’s Lexicon).
In today’s world patience is generally thought of as the ability or the necessity to wait, to allow some amount of lapse too time.
The word patience is rooted in meaning and purpose in the idea of “abiding” to “remain” or “preserve”.
Patience is an attribute, a disposition, a characteristic of God. It is righteousness. Patience is maintaining the God in our heart, mind, body and soul under all conditions and situations. It isn’t suffering although suffering is generally experienced while under a Godly patience.
When our religion is tried it is our patience being tested. Patience is our faith under pressure.
Patience is not a discipline. Anyone, carnal or Christian can discipline them self to not react to an adverse situation and suffer through an experience. That is not a Christian display of Patience.
Patience is maintaining the God within with all principle and precept intact. This includes not responding to temptation and aggravations. And since patience is an attribute of God then it is a characteristic that is for the benefit of not only you but for the other(s) person as well. We are to love God and our neighbor as our self. James defines pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father as, “To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).
A tolerant heart can withstand only so much. A Godly patient heart can withstand all.
As said at the beginning of this message patience is born of love. The Apostle Paul when describing the better way of love and describing the attributes of this Godly disposition first mentions patience.
4) Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7) Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8) Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
“Charity suffereth long” literally translates to the “love and benevolence of God is patient”.
Finally, “Long in spirit” is another descriptive (and word) for patience from the Greek New Testament. Maybe a modern day opposite of Long in spirit would be short tempered. “Temper” isn’t anger although usually referred to as such but rather temper is a state of being, a condition of mind. Temper is the spirit of the person. A short tempered person would therefore be someone short in spirit and not long in spirit; in other words, not having patience.
It should be evident that patience is a matter of the spirit within the person and not just an element of time and endurance. When we are Holy Ghost filled and living by God’s word we will be patient. Jesus was a perfect example of patience. Although He never sinned he certainly had to bear the weight of temptation numerous times. That “bearing of weight” only comes through patience.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed” (from 2 Timothy 2:15) and understand what patience is. It is a display of God.
Post your comments below about patience.