Love, joy, peace – these are the fruit of the Spirit that seem to get all the press. They should – these are all attributes that make the Christian distinct. What makes them even more distinctive is the fact that, for the Christian, these fruits seem to grow in the least likely of environments. That’s because they aren’t dependent on the environment; they grow based on the strength of the vine they are attached to.
When we love those who hate, when we have joy in the midst of pain, and when we have peace despite the churning circumstances around us, we show that the source of these characteristics is not those circumstances but instead the work of God in us.
But once you get passed these characteristics in Galatians 5:22-23, the passage in which Paul lists these many fruits of the Spirit, you find one attribute that we often don’t pay as much attention to. That’s patience.
Patience is a big deal. And like love, you, and peace, it’s one of those things that when displayed shows the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Here are 3 reasons, then, why patience is indeed a big deal:
1. Patience is an act of humility.
When we become impatient, we betray our inner assumption that we had the best thing planned. When our plans for our day (or our lives, for that matter) are interrupted and we have to go a different way, our level of patience shows how convinced we are in our own ability to make plans. When our plans are disrupted and we patiently adapt and act accordingly, we show that we humbly recognize how short-sighted we are in vision and wisdom.
2. Patience is an act of service.
I’m finding this to be more and more true as a parent. There are three little people who live with me, and most of the time those little people need something. Sometimes it’s help with homework; sometimes it’s a drink of water; sometimes it’s a 47th reminder about a rule we have in the home. During each of those needs, I’ve got the choice about whether I patiently help or whether I impatiently respond. Every time I choose patience, I am choosing to put my own desires on the back burner and embrace the holy inconvenience of service.
3. Patience is an act of faith.
One of the core questions we must answer every day is whether we truly believe God is sovereign or if we do not. If we do, then we must also recognize that He ultimately is the One directing our steps. Many times those steps aren’t the ones we would have chosen for ourselves; they’re the ones He chose for us. So, then, when we are patient, we display our firm belief that God not only is ruling over the circumstances of the world, but that ultimately His way is indeed right.
Patience is a big deal – probably bigger than we think it is. But our part, as God works in us, is to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. That includes exercising the muscle of patience. You’ll have a chance to exercise that muscle today; as you do, do so as an act of humility, service, and faith. And even if you’re only getting that kid a drink of water (again), know that you are embracing the work of God in you.