Have you ever lost your cool? Hours later you were still mad and maybe feeling a little guilty. You wondered if there was a way you could have more patience with people.
There is. Patience (or long-suffering as it's sometimes called) is part of the fruit of the Spirit God placed in believers at new birth. But if the Holy Spirit helps us be patient, why aren't we more patient? It's because he waits for us. Doing the simple steps listed at the end of this article tell the Holy Spirit you desire his help, and he will help you.
Galatians 5:22–23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering [patience], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
What? Me Patient?
Learning to be a patient person has not been easy for me. During one season in my life, I felt pressured, being stressed on the outside and living in emotional pain on the inside. The air around me seemed so thick I could carve my initials in it.
It felt like a goat was gnawing on my soul, and I wanted to yell out and get some help, yet I knew there was no good way to release my frustration other than to unload on the Lord. (That is the best way. Frank talk in the throne room helps a lot of things.)
I had found myself in the school of patience and perseverance, and although I didn't like it at the time, the self-control and character it built in me has proved invaluable the rest of my life.
Two Types of Patience
The Bible describes two types of patience. Long-suffering is the ability to withstand irritation and provocation coming from people. (There is a reason it is called looong-suffering.) The broader word patience means enduring and persevering through frustration, discomfort, or pain, caused by circumstances. In general use, long-suffering is rarely used, and patience refers to both withstanding challenging people and adverse circumstances.
Here's a good definition of patience: staying emotionally "calm in the face of provocation or misfortune, without complaint or irritation."1 A patient person remains the same, no matter what is going on.
By Your Patience Possess Your Souls
Jesus taught in Luke 21:19, "By your patience possess your souls." What a profound thought! By patience we remain in full possession of our soul, which is our mind, will, and emotions. When you lose your patience, you lose control over soul. And your emotions are not to rule over you, but you are to rule over your emotions.
The Holy Spirit inside you gives you the power and self-control to bear the fruit of patience.
So how do we walk in patience?
- Prepare yourself mentally. Say to yourself, "I am a patient person by the power of the Holy Spirit in me. I will be patient in every situation, expected or unexpected."
- Take control of your tongue. Patience begins by controlling your tongue and refusing to say what you want to say. Set your will and pray in advance that you will not respond in kind, no matter who provokes you. (Family can get under our skin quicker than anyone.)
- Trust God's strength and timing. We often become frustrated and impatient doing things in our own strength and timing. Instead, we must rely on God and trust his timing when things are not happening as quickly as we assumed.
- Grow your patience in the midst of trials. James wrote, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:2-4) Paul wrote, "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation." (Romans 5:3-4, NLT)
- Walk in love. The Love Chapter of the Bible stresses, "Love suffers long and is kind." (1 Corinthians 13:4) The Holy Spirit has always impressed me to work on these two things, patience and kindness. If you want to demonstrate love toward people, it's simple—be patient and kind.
- Act "as if." How do we become patient when we are not patient? We act "as if" we are patient. When you act as if you are patient, you are being patient. Keep acting as if until you are.
A Biblical Confession
This Biblical confession will prepare you mentally to be patient:
- I am a patient person. I am filled with the Holy Spirit of God's love. I have the power to be patient and kind toward others and to persevere in every circumstance. Thank you, Lord, for strengthening me in Jesus' name. Amen.
QUESTION: Where has it been hardest for you to be patient, and what are you changing so you can do better? Let us know in the comments below!
1Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 306). New York: United Bible Societies.