Patience ~ Doing Nothing

Saturday, May 2, 2015

So, I actually found the time to write the next part in my Fruit of the Spirit series.  Yay! I hope you enjoy it ;)

After love, joy, and peace come patience, kindness, and goodness. Where love, joy, and peace are all primarily about our heart attitude; patience, kindness, and goodness are about how we are to treat others. For now though, we are just going to focus on patience.

You may be thinking you know what it means to be patient.  It's when you have to wait for something and it requires you to be patient. It's something you probably hated when you were little and still hate now that you're older.  Yes, waiting does require patience but that definition is hardly scraping the surface of the meaning of patience. Consider the verse below:

"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,..." Ephesians 4:1-2

"...with patience, bearing with one another in love." What does this mean?  Paul is urging us to live our lives in unity with those around us.  So patience obviously effects how we interact with others.  So what exactly does it mean to be patient with others?

It means when others wrong you or are mean to you God wants you to do nothing.  He doesn't want you to react if that means you are going to say something critical or mean back. By doing nothing we have the time to think, to pray, to reflect, to ask for advice, and to plan to respond in a 'kind' way.  We need to remember that God has shown us, sinners who don't deserve God's grace, patience even though we continue to fail Him everyday.  And God wants us to be patient when we find ourselves being treated unfairly.  I think of the parable in Matthew 18 about the unmerciful servant who after having his own debts canceled failed to be patient with his own servant.  Knowing that God is patient with us should stir us on to be patient with others.

And if we get down to the roots of why we feel like we always have to say something in return it is often because we think we are better than the other person.  But we are all sinners in God's eyes and by being mean back we are not being a very good example to unbelievers.

So patience is simply having the strength to do nothing when you find yourself being treated unfairly by others.  So is it really that simple?  Simple to understand, yes; simple to do, not really.  We need God's help, and only with the power of the Holy Spirit within us can we be patient when mistreated. 

But I'm not done yet.  You may be a bit confused.  So patience doesn't have anything to do with waiting?  It has everything to do with waiting.  One thing I have learned as I study each fruit is there is no single meaning or simple answer for each Christian virtue.  

Briefly, I want to talk a little bit about having patience through hard circumstances.  I've said it before, the Christian life is not easy. God has given us His peace to get through hard times but He also wants us to have patience.  The secret to being patient through rough circumstances is having complete trust in God and the plan He has for your life.  

If you struggle with being patient when your life feels like it's a mess then the best thing you can do is go to God in prayer and study your Bible. Through this process you will grow in your love for God and you will learn to trust God, and then ultimately place your future in His hands.

I want to end with this quote that I just came across today. "Patience is not the ability to wait, but how you act while your waiting."

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