Fruit of the Spirit: Patience
By Pastor Ben Hill (reproduced with permission)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
“Patience” …everybody’s favorite word! Not really, is it? When we think of this particular fruit of the Spirit, what often comes to mind is the tongue-in-cheek saying, “Don’t ever pray for patience!” Why? Because the Bible tells us in James 1:2-4, “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.”
The thought is that since, according to James, the “testing of your faith” or “trials” is what produces patience, then to avoid trials, don’t pray for patience! Well, while it may be cute or catchy, that is just plain wrong theology. Patience isn’t something to be avoided, rather it is another sweet expression of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives!
It all deserves a closer look. In James 1:2-4, the word translated “patience” is the Greek word ‘hypomone,’ and it literally means “an underneath abiding.” It can be passive, i.e. “endurance,” or developed through trial as in trials in general (Luke 21:19), in trials coming from service in the gospel (2 Cor. 6:4; 2 Cor. 12:12; 2 Tim. 3:10) or chastisement from God the Father (Heb 12:7). Or it can be active, i.e. “persistence, perseverance,” as in well doing, (Rom. 2:7), in fruit bearing, (Luke 8:15) or in running the race (Heb. 12:1).
However, the word in our text of study that is (unfortunately, in my opinion) translated “patience” in some translations, is the Greek word ‘makrothymia.’ It comes from ‘makros’ = “long” and ‘thymos’ = “temper.” Long-tempered means “long suffering.” This concerns the interpersonal relationships we all navigate in life. You see, because of our sin nature, the big “I” in the middle of sin or “Self – Ish – Ness,” we cannot just develop a strong enough Christian character. No, this is where God must work in big ways. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. The flesh screams “lash out, retaliate” when we are wronged. But the Spirit says, “wait, love, suffer long, leave it to the Lord.” As it says in Romans 12:14, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.”
To be able to “turn the other cheek” is a product of the fruit of the Spirit. Surely, you’ve noticed by now that it only comes from intimate, personal time with Him.