Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Fruit of the Spirit--Patience

The Fruit of the Spirit--Patience
By Missy Tippens

Gal. 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Generally, I’m a pretty patient person. And you may be, too. But sometimes life throws things at us (people, situations, frustrations) that makes it a little more difficult.

As I started doing a little reading about the 5th chapter of Galatians, I found it interesting that the commentaries said that Paul is talking about a singular fruit. Rather than talking about character qualities of individuals, he’s talking about the way in which the Spirit’s work is made manifest in community. The commentary said he’s talking about the peaceful and community-building character of the Sprit’s work.

Another thing I thought was clever was that the commentary said the fruit can’t be humanly manufactured. Instead, it’s organically grown from God, through the energy-giving Spirit. So true!

Let's look at a couple of definitions of patience:

One commentary said patience is the opposite of “fits of rage” or short temper. It’s the quality of staying with people even when constantly wronged and irritated by them.

Another source said patience is the quality of being long-suffering toward those whose conduct may in fact be calculated to provoke anger.

How often have we had to bite our tongues when someone has said something bad about us or about those we love? Or when someone is being particularly difficult to work with (at home, school, work, church...)?

Patience—not a fit of rage. That quality of long-suffering toward those who wrong you.

Ouch. I couldn’t do that without the Holy Spirit. My human nature would take over. Frustrations might spill over. I might say things I shouldn't. I might find it hard to be kind.

God wants our community (be it our church, our family, our group of friends...) to have a spirit of patience with each other.

Is there someone you’re dealing with right now? Or maybe someone in your past that hurt you or your family? We’re able to handle it with God’s help. The fruit of the spirit is moral character, played out in our community, and developed by the power of the Spirit.

So... without mentioning names or specifics, is patience an area you've had to work on lately?


  1. Missy, I am wildly raising my hand on this one. Patience has been a thorn in my side for as long as I can remember. I think from birth I was placed around people who would test my patience--most thoroughly.

    Because I've been thrown in situations with so many people who have abused their authority over me in my lifetime, I've struggled with knowing when I simply needed to develop patience and understanding or set healthy boundaries around me so I wouldn't be so depressed and feel so horrible all the time.

    I have learned to grit my teeth, bite my tongue, and clench my fists when in situations I have no way out of and hang on in spite of what wrongs are dealt to me. Where I DO have a choice, I set boundaries and I stick to them--even if that means ending friendships to keep my sanity, my confidence and my health.

  2. Jenn, there's definitely a difference in being patient and being a doormat. We have to love others as we love ourselves. Not love others to our own detriment. It sounds like you're learning to handle it well and make the right choices (when you have that choice).

  3. Hi Missy:

    The problem with dealing with Biblical concepts like ‘patience’ is that the term then could have meant some things we do not mean by the word today and omit other things we do mean by the word today. This will lead to many contradictions.

    I see a conflict between ‘patience’ and ‘tough love’. I see a conflict between ‘patience’ and ‘sanctioning incompetence’. I see little in common with ‘patience’ in waiting for a traffic light to change and ‘patience’ with a child who tells lies.

    My wife says I have no patience because I won’t wait on lines for anything that I have a choice in avoiding. I tell her that by not waiting I have lowered my blood pressure, saved time, done new things, and not rewarded poor service.

    Patience is often an excuse for inaction. Hamlet was patient and where did it get him?

    The virtue of Patience may well depend of which side of the line your on. : )

    Patience is one of the virtues that needs to be applied in just the right amounts at just the right times and that requires wisdom. And acquiring wisdom takes a lot of patience.


  4. Vince says: Patience is one of the virtues that needs to be applied in just the right amounts at just the right times and that requires wisdom. And acquiring wisdom takes a lot of patience.

    And Missy says: This is priceless! :) Thanks, Vince, for the chuckle. But it's so true! You're right about the words and how the meanings can change over the ages (plus, there's always the problem with translation to our language).

    I think what struck me the most, though, was that Paul was talking about patience in a community, not just Missy being patient as a virtue. Loving and caring in a community takes so much work (and give and take) and can only happen with the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

  5. Oh, Missy, if you only knew...
    I definitely have to check myself regularly. Just today, I had to bite my tongue and pray for God's staying hand (silently, of course, so the PB schools won't have a fit) not to say the wrong thing to a student who deliberately defies everything she's told to do. Thank goodness God allows us to be perfected through Him because I couldn't do it without Him either.

  6. Great example, Dianna. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I never thought of patience in this way before. I usually only think of it in terms of waiting. Hmmm... I'll have to pondder this. Very interesting Missy. Thanks.

  8. Hi Missy:

    I think Paul would have said, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” (and neither will the Church.)


  9. Gosh Missy, I think this post was made just for me... I am dealing with this very thing. But my question is how do you know when to be patient with someone and when you need to put up boundaries? Does patience ever end for tough love to begin? This is where I struggle and wonder if by putting up boundaries and separating myself from those that hurt me if I'm doing the right thing in God's eyes or the wrong thing. And by Paul's account, we are supposed to be long-suffering and patient. Again, we go back to the doormat...

  10. Christy, I don't know. But I do think that speaking to someone out of love to work through the problem (including setting boundaries, etc.) would be appropriate. That's not impatience. That's just open, honest communication--which is part of being a community as well.

    Like Jenn said, you have to take care of your own health.