The book of Proverbs connects waiting with wisdom: “A person’s wisdom yields patience” (19:11). Similarly, impatience is foolishness: “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly” (14:29). Patient people are peacemakers: “A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel” (15:18). This makes them incredibly valuable: “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city” (16:32).
As today’s reading makes clear, we cannot achieve patience on our own. It is part of the fruit of the Spirit (vv. 22–23). In this final section of our month’s study, we’ll consider how to apply what we’ve learned about waiting on the Lord in relation to the corresponding virtue of patience.
The “fruit of the Spirit” is a collective noun, and this fruit is what happens when the Spirit controls a person’s life (vv. 24–26). As Jesus also taught, a tree is known by its fruit (Matt. 7:17–18). The cardinal virtue of love is the first fruit identified (see 1 Cor. 13:13). Joy and peace are named next. But it’s worth noticing that on this list, patience—as most translations have it, though the niv uses the synonym “forbearance”— is number four.
Patience can be exercised in relation to hard-to-get-along-with people or difficult situations. But its core meaning is the spiritual discipline of waiting and submission to God. One study Bible explains: “Patience shows that Christians are following God’s plan and timetable rather than their own and that they have abandoned their own ideas about how the world should work.” We cannot live this way in our own strength. We need faith in Jesus and the power of the Spirit!
What Bible character’s life demonstrates patience? It might be one we’ve mentioned in an illustration or devotion this month, but many more examples are available. Reflecting on this Bible character’s life (it can be Jesus if you wish) can make the quality of patience less abstract. In what specific ways might you imitate him or her in this area?