King Solomon, the wisest of all the inspired writers of the Bible, wrote, “the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit” (Ecc. 7:8b). Chrysostom called patience “The Queen of the Virtues.” The author of an old Dutch proverb wrote, “A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.” Shakespeare observed, “How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” William Pitts, once Prime Minister of England, when asked the first qualification of being Prime Minister said, “Patience.” The second, “Patience.” The third, “Patience.” Leaders of this world through the years have realized the importance of patience and the rewards that come from developing a controlled and calm mind.
Without patience, people make rash and harsh decisions, allow anger to get out of control, which can result in violence and destruction. People who lose their emotional control leave themselves vulnerable to manipulation and misguidance. People without patience create a hostile work and family environment because they do not listen, they have no tolerance for anyone but themselves, and they are selfish, which creates a negative reputation for the person who has impatience. Clearly, impatience works in opposition to the needs and work of everyone.
Unfortunately, modern society fosters a generation of people who cannot wait, nor can they find joy in the moment without getting it all the second they want it. Fast food chains cater and advertise the speed with which they can serve food or drinks, causing people to feel such treatment should be expected everywhere they go. Internet and phone processors all work at lightening speed downloading everything imaginable within seconds; customers measure the quality of postal service by the speed they can deliver a package; vehicles and other modes of transportation continue to advance in speed with each generation promising the fastest connections and trips possible. Such modern advances in speed generates a society determined to have instant gratification, which unfortunately, has leaked into their thinking in their spiritual lives.
If churches and preachers don’t deliver the fastest results for people’s time, then people move somewhere else. People want immediate friendships and influential reputations within a few months of them being with the church. However, investing in the church, finding fulfilment in friends and study, and growing as a Christian takes time and a lifetime of commitment (2 Tim. 4:4-8; 2 Peter 1:3-10; Rev. 2:10).
Paul wrote to the church of Colossi, “Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Col. 1:11). By revelation, God’s followers understood patience to be strength based in understanding, enduring and suffering at length with joyfulness and calm.
Thayer defines the Greek word, hupomonē, translated patience as “the characteristic of a man who unswerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to the faith and piety by even the greatest of trials and sufferings.” This word has also been rendered as “longsuffering, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance” (Analytical Greek Lexicon). Inspired authors write of such characteristics as a necessity for Christians (2 Peter 1:5-11; 1 Tim. 6:11; Tit. 2:2; Heb. 12:1,2; 10:36; Rev. 13:10; 14:12).
God provides a foundation in how a person may overcome impatience, however, there must first be a desire for it. Every Christian needs to know himself/herself well enough to know when impatience is a problem in his/her life and not to dismiss those who would point it out (2 Cor. 13:5). When a brother or sister mention that an individual possesses a problem with patience, or the person is quick to anger, the accused cannot just dismiss the accusation immediately without thought. To make a snap judgment based on impulsive emotion without due consideration proves the accusation of impatience correct! – Give it some fair thought. If you are quick to anger and judge, then you probably struggle with impatience.
- God’s word produces patience (Rom. 15:4; Rev. 3:10). As people study and meditate upon the sacred principles of life and obedience, they allow the mind to focus on what is important in life and the little nuances and annoyances in living do not seem as potent.
- Tribulation worketh patience (Rom. 5:3; Jas. 1:2-4). Experience in turning away from sin helps a person practice control and self-discipline, which is essential in overcoming impatience.
- Pray for patience (Col. 1:9-11). Obviously, when one prays for patience, they must not expect an immediate manifestation.
- Hope produces patience (1 Thess. 1:3). All Christians must learn the value of waiting for the return of Christ and the hope of eternal life, never knowing what tomorrow may bring!
If believers take the time and make an honest effort to improve their minds and attitudes in terms of being more patient, results will come. Sometimes results can be seen more by those around the person making the effort to improve than by the person making the effort. God commands Christian to “walk in the newness of life” (Rom. 6:4), “walk by faith” (2 Cor. 5:7), “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7), “walk worthy of God” (1 Thess. 2:12), “walk in wisdom” (Col. 4:5), “walk in Him” (Col. 2:6), and “walk in truth” (3 John 6). Dozens of times God instructs Christians to walk, not run headstrong with Christ in a mad dash to have it all. Christians must learn patience if they are to obey God in “all things” (Matt. 28:20).