Patience is an admirable character quality that few people, including Christians, seem to possess. According to the Bible, our lives are to be characterized by patience, for it is important in developing the mature, stable character which God wants to produce in His people: “Love is patient, love is kind . . . it is not easily angered” (1 Corinthians 13:4–5, NIV).
Patience is the ability to absorb strain and stress without complaint, to be left undisturbed by obstacles, delays, or failures. God allows difficulties, inconveniences, trials, and even suffering to come our way for a specific purpose: They help develop the right attitude for the growth of patience. As the Christian sees these trials producing beneficial, character-building results, the stage is set for the development of a patient spirit. God the Holy Spirit will then be able to produce the fruit of patience in his or her life: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience . . .” (Galatians 5:22, NIV).
A bit of introspection and analysis with regard to impatience may be revealing and helpful. What makes me impatient?
• Am I immature? Am I petty? “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14, NIV).
• Am I selfish, legalistic, or demanding? Am I able to make allowances for the mistakes and imperfections in others, remembering that God is still working on me, too? “Be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14–15).
• Am I easily irked because “someone is getting away with something”? “Do not fret because of evildoers” (Psalm 37:1).
• Am I envious or jealous? “Be patient and stand firm. . . . Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged” (James 5:8–9, NIV).
• Am I materialistic? Am I dominated by the spirit of this world? “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above” (Colossians 3:1).
• Have I really dealt with the “secular mentality”? “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11, NIV).
• Do I realize that God permits adverse circumstances, irritations, and stress to buffet me in order that through His grace I might learn to transcend self and grow in love and spiritual stature? “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).
1. Tactfully ask the inquirer if he or she has ever received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Explain the gospel – Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD
2. Encourage the impatient person to:
A. Admit having a problem. Impatience is sin and should be dealt with.
B. Identify the areas of impatience and the circumstances that trigger this negative response.
C. Pray about these circumstances daily:
(1) Confess the impatience as sin, asking God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
(2) Ask God for sensitivity to this area of failure and for help in bringing it under control.
D. Resolve to work on the problem:
(1) Because impatient people seem to be dominated by a mind-set which causes them to respond negatively to irritations, stresses, and provocations, the inquirer should be willing to let God work in him or her to produce patience. He or she must resolve to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
(2) Because impatience is a characteristic of the “old nature” (Colossians 3:9–10), the “put off—put on” principle should be practiced. Impatience is a response that must be “unlearned.” Paul says, “But I see another law at work . . . waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin. . . . What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:23–25, NIV). Thus:
• I must renounce my impatience—“put off.”
• I must surrender a little more each day as I claim His power in faith—“put off” + “put on” (Galatians 2:20; 2 Timothy 1:7).
• I then claim His victory, His love, and His patience as the fruit of the Spirit—“put on” (1 Corinthians 13:4–5; Galatians 5:22).
E. Request the help of another Christian to monitor your patient vs. impatient responses, recording both victories or failures.
F. Develop the discipline of daily Bible reading and study, Scripture memorization, and prayer.
G. Seek out other Christians of like mind in a Bible-teaching church for fellowship and Bible study.
“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass” (Psalm 37:7).
“We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint . . .” (Romans 5:3–5).
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:4–5, NIV).
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22–23).
“Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:7–8, NIV).
Other suggested Scriptures:
2 Peter 1:5–9, NIV
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996