Patience: So Much More Than a Virtue

"The fruit of the Spirit is...patience"

Patience is our fourth spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22). The concept was translated 400 years ago in the King James Version as "longsuffering". The Strong's definition for longsuffering includes patience but it also rounds out the definition with the words "fortitude" and "forbearance". I say that if you were to take these three words—patience, forbearance, fortitude—and put them in a blender, you'd end up with the spiritual quality of longsuffering as defined and lived out by Jesus.

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

Longsuffering is essential to our way of life in the world at large. Much has been written and said about our instant society. I'm sure you've heard it already (email, coffee, popcorn, etc.). As society's attitude becomes more and more expectant of instantaneous gratification, the spiritual quality of longsuffering as received from Jesus will begin to show itself in our actions and words as the genuine article. The patience (or longsuffering) of Jesus is more than simply gritting your teeth and holding your breath while waiting for (insert frustrating situation/person here) to pan out. As the longsuffering of Jesus lives through us by His Holy Spirit, we will begin to see people as God sees them. Not as slow-moving cogs at our service, but as creations of God who need prayer and kindness. Time, also will come into focus and we'll see our day, our week and our life as measured out and gifted to us by God. And learning to wait on Him is how we learn to be patient with others and with ourselves. God Himself is patient with us. He's not going anywhere. We are on His time (and His dime).

"But Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth." (Psalm 86:15)

I challenge you at some time during your busy day to stop wherever you are, whatever you're doing and let the whole world whirl and roil around you while you thank God for being so patient with you. I'll do the same.