“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
-Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
Having patience is not always easy. Obviously. I mean, who really wants to wait for things that they want right now? Nobody! But patience is one of the fruits of the spirit, meaning that when we walk with Jesus and follow God, his Holy Spirit develops this trait in us. So what’s the big deal about patience, and how are we supposed to get it?
Like all of the fruits of the spirit, developing patience is not something that we have to do by trying really hard. God doesn’t expect us to please him by being good through our own efforts. The reality is, we all kind of suck. If it was left up to us, we would never be able to be good enough for such a perfect and awesome God. But thankfully, it isn’t left up to us and we don’t have to (and never could) earn his love or grace. Jesus paid the price for us. Then, he gave us the Holy Spirit so that we could live our lives in a way that pleases God. The Holy Spirit is our helper; he helps us walk on the path that God wants us to walk on. The fruits of the spirit don’t come from us, they come from him!
So what does patience look like, and why does it matter so much to God? If you ask me, all of the fruits of the spirit are things that are not only pleasing to God, they are also good for us. Perhaps that’s one of the major reasons that they are pleasing to God, because he wants what’s best for us. Think about it—life is so much better when it is filled with love, joy, and peace. Patience is no different. When we aren’t anxious about anything, we are able to more fully enjoy what we have right now. Patience means that we are okay being where God wants us to be right now, because we know that it’s all part of his ultimately perfect plan for our lives.
Do you know what patience doesn’t mean? It doesn’t mean doing nothing, allowing ourselves to get stuck in stagnation, or waiting forever. When we are waiting for something that we really want, we should use that time of waiting to prepare ourselves and draw closer to God. Other times, what we really need isn’t patience, it’s faith. I believe from my own experience that sometimes when we feel stuck, God isn’t asking us to wait, he’s asking us to take a step in faith and go for it.
My pastor once taught us a simple truth based on 1 Corinthians 13:13, which says “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” (NLT). He said that when it comes to living to the fullest that God has for us, faith, hope, and love are the keys. “Hope expects it, faith takes it, and love is the motivation,” he said. In other words, we expect to be blessed by God because we have hope, and we receive his blessings through believing that we will receive them—that’s faith.
Faith means even more than that, though. It doesn’t just mean that you believe you will receive great things from God eventually. It means you believe that you have already received what you’re asking for! Because ultimately, from God’s timeless perspective, you already have. Faith is when we thank God in advance for what he is going to do, or rather, for what he has done. Mark 11:24 says “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (NIV). When we ask in faith, we receive.
Love is the motivation for our faith and our hope. Understanding God’s love for us gives us perfect trust in him. We know that he loves us so much that he would never allow anything to happen to us that he won’t somehow use for the good. He loves us so much that we can surrender ourselves to his control over our lives. One way that we show our love for God is by trusting him completely.
When we are walking in faith, hope, and love, we often don’t need to wait very long for the things that we desire. And when our first and foremost desire is for God and his will, the Holy Spirit fills us with the patience that we need. When we seek his will, and pray for what we are asking in his timing, we will receive it at the best possible time. What a relief!
Of course, patience doesn’t just mean waiting for things. It also means that we are graceful in how we deal with others. We should remember that at times, we can all be extremely annoying. We all make mistakes, do stupid things, and act like bratty little snots. So when other people do the same things, wouldn’t it be wise of us to give them some grace? As difficult as it can be, we should focus on letting the Holy Spirit reign in our hearts and minds instead of acting on our own impulses. When I feel like cussing out that awful driver who just cut me off, I focus on the Holy Spirit and I am reminded how much God loves that person. When my husband’s incessant tapping on the desk is driving me crazy, I focus on the Holy Spirit and remember that God loves my husband, and so do I, and honestly, what’s the big deal about something so small in the grand scheme of things anyway? When that random lady at the grocery store is so undeservedly rude to me that I feel like ramming my cart into her ankles, I focus on the Holy Spirit and remember that he loves her, and she’s probably just having a bad day. You get the picture. Patience leads to peace, not only in our own lives, but in our interactions with others.
Patience given to us by the Holy Spirit is truly a gift from God. It allows us to enjoy our lives on a day-to-day basis, seeing the beauty in what we have now. We can also look ahead to the future and feel excited for what’s to come, because we know that something good is coming. We can have joy knowing that God’s timing is perfect, and we are where we are for a reason. Then, when the timing is right, all we have to do is ask, and God will bring us into that next great thing in our lives. How exciting is that?!