In this article, we will continue our study and look at the fruit of the Spirit: Patience. We will examine this attribute and see how it applies to our lives as believers. So, grab your Bible, and let’s dive in…
Most Christians are familiar with Galatians 5:22-23, where the apostle Paul tells the Christians in Galatia about the fruit of the Spirit, which should be evident in the life of a Christian. Paul mentions several characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit, one of which is patience.
But what does it mean for a Christian to display patience as a fruit of the Spirit?
Patience is only one characteristic or attribute of the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5. The apostle Paul tells the Church in Galatia that they should display all nine of these characteristics, which would only have been made possible when we abide in Christ and walk in His Spirit.
In our modern, fast-paced, self-centered society, patience is rarely seen. To truly understand what Paul expects from believers regarding patience, it is essential to look at the exact meaning of the word in the original Greek language.
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The Meaning Of Patience: An Attribute Of The Fruit Of The Spirit
Two Greek words in the Bible were translated as “patience” in English:
- Hupomone – Often translated as patience or endurance, Hupomone specifically refers to patience regarding things or circumstances. Hupomone is not used in Galatians 5:22 but is often found in the New Testament.
From The Strongs –
ὑπομονήhupŏmŏnē, hoop-om-on-ay’; from G5278; cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy:—enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).
- Makrothumia – This Greek word was used in the original text in Galatians 5:22. Translated to patience, longsuffering, or forbearance, makrothumia means “long temper” and refers to tolerance when dealing with people.
From The Strongs –
μακροθυμίαmakrothymía, mak-roth-oo-mee’-ah; from the same as G3116; longanimity, i.e. (objectively) forbearance or (subjectively) fortitude:—longsuffering, patience.
The patience that Paul talks about in Galatians 5:22 is therefore showing patience toward people, not so much the idea of waiting for something.
Makrothumia relates to strength. Instead of taking revenge when wronged, a person shows strength and patience by trusting God to judge that person’s life. In patience, Christians show love and compassion toward another person, wanting what is best for them.
Patience is something that rarely comes naturally to people. No one can show the fruit of the Spirit without the power of the Holy Spirit, which is undoubtedly true of patience.
Christians become more like Christ by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through them and give them more patience toward others, even if they have been wronged.
Why Is Patience So Important?
The apostle Paul included patience as a characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit. There are a few reasons why Christians need to display patience.
- God has patience with us:
Throughout the Bible, there are many examples where God showed patience towards sinful humans. Think of God’s patience with His chosen people who repeatedly turned their backs on him. As it says in 2 Peter 3:9: “…but is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish….”
- Spiritual growth:
Practicing patience helps Christians grow closer to the image of Christ. Christ is our perfect example of patience. During His trial and crucifixion, Jesus remained patient and quiet with the people calling for and executing his sentence, even forgiving them. Christians are encouraged to follow Jesus’ example of patience.
- Waiting on God:
Followers of Christ are encouraged to wait for God’s answers and help, even when His answers might not be what they were hoping for. Many verses in the Bible command Christians to wait on the Lord. Psalm 27:14 says it twice: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; Wait for the Lord.”
Jesus himself said in John 16:33, “In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Exercising patience in hardships teaches people endurance and steadfastness in their faith.
- Patience is a way to love others:
In Matthew 22:39, Jesus said that one of the most important commandments was to “…love your neighbor as yourself.” Having patience with our fellow human beings is a way we can show them love and compassion.
- Being witnesses:
In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “…and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” The patience a Christian displays in all circumstances and toward all people bears witness to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
- Unity in faith:
There are many Christians worldwide, from different cultural backgrounds, speaking many languages. People have different personalities and different ways of thinking and doing things. Ephesians 4:2-3 tells Christians to bear with one another patiently, “…eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit….“
People Who Showed Patience In The Bible
There are many examples of people who displayed patience in the Bible, whether with their circumstances, patience waiting for God, or patience with others, which we can learn from all of them.
Here are just a handful of examples from the Bible where people were patient.
God promised Abraham that he would become the father of a big nation that would inherit the promised land. Hebrews 6:15 says: “And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.”
It took many years for Abraham to see the fulfillment of God’s promise, as he was 100 years old when his wife, Sarah, finally bore him a son, Isaac.
From Genesis 37-46, we read the story of Joseph, the favorite son of Jacob. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, and he was imprisoned for something he didn’t do. But through it all, he remained patient, never seeking revenge, and in doing so, could save his whole family, even the brothers who sold him, from famine.
From 1 Samuel 16, we read the story of David, who was anointed as king over Israel but had to serve king Saul and even flee and hide from him before he could finally ascend the throne. In fact, in 1 Samuel 24:1-7, we read how David had the opportunity to kill Saul and ascend the throne, but he was patient, knowing that God would make a way for him.
In Luke 2:25-35, we read about a man named Simeon, a righteous man to whom God had promised that he would not die until he saw the Messiah. After patiently waiting, Simeon was led to the temple when Jesus’ parents took him there for their purification. There he saw the baby Jesus, held Him in his arms, and blessed His parents.
When we read through the gospels in the New Testament, we can see many examples where Jesus had patience with His disciples and others. In Matthew 14:22-33 Jesus showed great patience with His disciples, who panicked in a storm on the sea, shortly after witnessing Jesus doing miracles.
How To Live A Life Of Patience
In today’s rushed world, patience is not a characteristic that is often seen. It is impossible to display the fruit of the Spirit in our own strength. We can only display the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit through the power of the Holy Spirit in us and by spending time with Him.
I can’t stress it enough that spending time with God and abiding in Him is the key to bearing good fruit.
Christians can show patience in reacting to others, especially when others are wronged, offended, or just annoyed you. A patient Christian chooses not to take revenge against or be mean to a person who wronged them but would instead pray for their enemies, showing them love and compassion.
By loving their neighbor as themselves (Matthew 22:39) and doing to others as they wish that others do to them (Luke 6:31), even when they are not experiencing it yet, the patience of modern-day Christians not only bear witness to the working of the Holy Spirit in them but also helps them grow into spiritual maturity.
Patience towards other people is one of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit. Translated from the Greek word makrothumia, it means “long fuse” or that a person is slow to anger. Someone displaying this patience would not take revenge when wronged but rather show love and compassion toward a person who wronged them. This patience helps a Christian to grow in faith.
If you have enjoyed this study on The Fruit Of The Spirit: Patience, please let me know down below in the comments! I would love to hear from you, and don’t forget to check out more on the fruit of the holy spirit in these other articles.
Melissa is a passionate minister, speaker and an ongoing learner of the Bible. She has been involved in church and vocational ministry for over 18 years. And is the founder of Think About Such Things. She has the heart to equip the saints by helping them get into the Word of God and fall more in love with Jesus. She also enjoys family, cooking, and reading.
She has spoken in churches in California, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico and has been featured in Guidepost Magazine and All Recipes Magazine. Read More…