June 10, 2020
How well are you holding up? Are you enduring hardship, yet coming out victorious on the other side? Learn how important this fruit of the Spirit is not just to your testimony, but to all aspects of having success in your home, work, and interpersonal relationships.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4)
Whether it’s playing piano, reading Greek, baking a souffle, or having a decent batting average in baseball, if you don’t have patience, you won’t learn to do anything well. Success requires patience. If you don’t have it, I can guarantee you’re a failure. Not “will be” a failure. Without patience, you already are a failure. The Bible says the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, and then it says “long-suffering,” which means “patience.” Endurance is another way of saying it. Are you facing your trials with endurance? You haven’t failed unless you quit, but if you quit, failure is guaranteed. Suppose you’re running a 100-yard dash, and you’re ten yards ahead of everyone else. What if three feet from the finish line you quit? No matter how far ahead you were, you just lost the race. You’re always a failure if you quit. Without patience, without endurance—this treasured fruit of the Spirit—you will fail.
We don’t want to wait. We want everything now. So we have fast foods, the express lane at checkout, instant coffee, instant oatmeal, and microwave ovens. Yet real life isn’t on that speed track. Sometimes great trials cross our path and stop our momentum.
Some of these trials are small irritations. Others become a life event that leaves us confused and questioning. Why does God allow trials to come into our lives? Because they not only expose our impatience, but God uses them to develop within us the patience we need.
I need patience and you need patience. Romans 5:3 says we ought to triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings because affliction and hardship produce patience and endurance. How can we possibly be happy in hardship? When we realize that these things make us become more patient and cultivate a key fruit of the Spirit in our lives, we can begin to see that trials and hardship aren’t just obstacles but opportunities to become more like Jesus. Patience is the fruit of the Spirit that’s going to help us endure.
When a trial comes and there’s nothing we can do, when we can’t even understand it, when it doesn’t make sense, we tend to fall back on all our little formulas. We run through our proof texts. What we need is the strength we will get from this fruit of the Spirit known as “long-suffering”—patience and endurance.
You may think of patience as the ability to “put up with” some tedious task or to endure pain and suffering or even just annoying people. It is that, but it’s much more. Greek scholar William Barclay described it this way:
It is not the patience which can sit down and bow its head and let things descend upon it and passively endure until the storm is passed. It is the spirit which can bear things not simply with resignation, but with blazing hope. It is not the spirit which sits statically, enduring in one place, but the spirit which bears things because it knows that these things are leading to a goal of glory. It is not patience which grimly waits for the end, but patience which radiantly hopes for the dawn.
This is true biblical patience. Not sticking it out, not grinning and bearing it, but saying, as the hymn goes, “I know what-e’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.” And “In the midst of this, whatever it is, I will give Him praise.” That’s the fruit of the Spirit known as patience/endurance/long-suffering.
Would you like to:
Everything on that list comes through patience.
When the testing of your faith happens, when you come up against those trials and tribulations, James 1:3-4 explains “…that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” The word perfect here doesn’t mean sinless, pure, never making a mistake. Perfect means “mature.” What does God want out of you? To be a fully grown, mature Christian.
Children are not patient. They don’t know the difference between “no” and “not yet.” They want what they want right now! If you’re not mature, you’re not like the Lord Jesus Christ. There’s no maturity without patience and no patience without trials. God is interested in growing you up and making you mature to bring you into the fullness of Christ. And the way He does that is to allow you to have trials and tribulations. The only way you’ll develop maturity is through tribulation that leads to patience.
Left to ourselves, we’re so much like little children. We say, “Lord, I don’t want to suffer. I don’t want any problems. I want it to be all honey and no bees, sailing through life in perfect ease.” Then you’ll never be a mature Christian.
I walked a mile with Pleasure. She chatted all the way,
But left me none the wiser for all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow and not a word said she.
But, oh, the things I learned from her when Sorrow walked with me.
God wants us to rule, to reign, to be victors in this life. A spiritual child is not a victor—he’s a victim. God wants you to be a strong, victorious warrior, not putty in the devil’s hands. And the only way to get there is to triumph in the Lord Jesus Christ, as 2 Corinthians 2:14 says, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”
When trials come and you endure with patience, that’s when you mature. Then when the devil comes at you on the attack, you won’t be a victim because you’re strong. You have command of your own spirit.
Proverbs 25:28 describes what a person is like who doesn’t take command of his own spirit. “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.” Their life, their home, their witness are in shambles. They’ve never learned patience. Do you know anyone like that? I’ve known plenty. Endure until you mature. When the enemy comes, whatever happens, begin to praise God. Say, “Lord, I don’t know what it is. I don’t know why You’ve brought it. I can’t understand it. But I’m going to stand under it, I’m going to endure, I’m going to be patient. And I praise You.”
James 5 describes the patience of a farmer who waits patiently for early and latter rains that will produce a bountiful harvest. If you want prosperity, you must have patience for your crop to come in. A companion passage to James 5 is in Galatians 6.
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:7-8)
…he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:8-9)
Many of us don’t reap because we don’t have the patience to sow, or having sown, don’t have patience to wait for the harvest. Delays are not denials. If you want God to answer your prayer, you have to learn to wait on Him.
Wait on the LORD ; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the LORD! (Psalm 27:14)
But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
Therefore, the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him. (Isaiah 30:18)
Do these verses make you uncomfortable? According to these verses, what blessings are yours if you wait on God?
Why doesn’t God answer right away? Because He wants you to grow. The same way grain is ripened in the field, God ripens you. And the answer to your trial may not be ripe yet. With God, timing is far more important than time. God knows not just what we need but when we need it.
There’s no happiness, no tranquility, without patience. An impatient person is always an unhappy person. You can’t be happy and impatient at the same time. You’ll never have tranquility about some situations until you accept them with patience. God’s not done yet with your situation yet.
If tribulation brings patience, and patience makes us mature, what should you do in your situation? Obey James 1:5. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
But what do we usually do? We say, “Lord, take it away.” That shouldn’t be your first prayer. Instead pray, “Lord, give me wisdom. What is it I’m supposed to learn in this situation?” Don’t waste your sorrows. Don’t waste your troubles. If God is bringing something into your life to make you mature, pray that He’ll give you the wisdom to pass the test so He won’t have to keep on giving it. He’s going to keep re-enrolling you, giving you the same test, until you pass it.
In what we know as “The Love Chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul has great insight for us on the importance of patience. Love and patience are tied together. Verse 4 says, “Love suffers long and is kind.” Love is long-suffering. Love is patient. Impatient people are loveless people. If you’re impatient with your wife or your children, you’re not showing them the love they deserve. If you’re impatient with co-workers or employees, you’re not showing them the respect they deserve. At the root isn’t your impatience; it’s your lack of love.
One of the secrets of success in any situation is to see the issue from the other’s point of view. A loveless person is always a selfish person, looking solely from his own viewpoint. He never thinks about the other’s viewpoint.
That’s the reason the Bible says we “bear one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2) and long-suffering. If you’re impatient with the faults and foibles of others, it’s because you’re an unloving person. Almost nothing provokes a person filled with love. If he’s not filled with love, almost anything will provoke him. Patience arises from love.
Fruit is not manufactured. You will never see a fruit factory. You don’t produce fruit, you bear it. The same Bible that says the fruit of the Spirit is patience (Galatians 5:22) also says three verses later, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” The only way fruit will ripen and grow is in the right climate. You can’t grow bananas in Alaska, and you’re not going to grow and produce the fruit of the Spirit unless you’re walking in the Spirit in the right climate. You’re never a failure until you quit, and you’ll never have patience until you abide in the Spirit.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing…. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (John 15:4-5, 8)
Then you will be fruitful.
Lord Jesus, I know that You’re teaching me much, but I have so much to learn. Teach me, Lord to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name and for Your glory, Amen.
Learn more about how to study the Bible with the LWF Bible Study Guide.