“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:4, NKJV)
The World Values Impatience
Most of us realize that patience is a virtue, but few of us desire that for ourselves, or are willing to pray for that for ourselves. In fact, the systems and institutions of this world often commend, reward and applaud impatience as an entrepreneurial virtue and trait for those who innovate and create new systems, processes, products, services, code, architecture, business models and/or technologies.
It seems that in the modern era of fast food franchises, drive through lanes, personal computers, the Internet, smart phones and devices, social media, e-commerce, a proliferation of and growing appetite for information, quarterly earnings reports, electronic trading, stock exchanges, digital media, 24/7 news coverage, and daily deadlines, the need for or existence of patience may easily be confused or equated with lack of efficiency, lack of public relations savvy or skill, lack of favor, weakness, ignorance, failure, inexperience, or a wilderness season. But, in the spiritual realm, nothing could be further from the truth.
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Patience Is a Fruit of the Spirit
Everything God does is in the fullness of time. God brought a flood on the earth for 40 days and nights to judge the wickedness, corruptness and depravity of mankind and the Nephilim, offspring of fallen angels and women. God destroyed all life on earth except for Noah and his family and the creatures and animals aboard his ark (Gen. 6:1-7:12). Scripture says that “God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built” (1 Pet. 3:20, NIV). Moses was commissioned and sent by God to free the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, oppression and rule after 400 years (Gen. 15:13-16, Exo. 12:35-36). Jesus was born in the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4-5; Rom. 5:6). You and I were born in the fullness of time for our respective purpose and destiny (Psa. 139:13-16). Jesus will return to earth in the fullness of time (Eph. 1:9-10, Acts 3:19-21).
Patience is listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22-23 (NIV), so it is not optional for Christians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” The Greek word for patience here ismakrothymia, derived from makrothumia, and means long-suffering, long-passioned, or long-tempered (Strong’s G3115). This is the opposite of short-tempered.
Patience Is Part of a Process
In fact, patience is part of the larger, lifetime process of sanctification. Rom 5:3-5 (KJV) says, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” The Greek word for patience here is hypomonēn, derived fromhupomoné, meaning a remaining behind, or a patient enduring (Strong’s G5281). Perseverance and endurance are synonyms used in other translations of this passage.
Similarly, 2 Pet. 1:5-8 (KJV) adds, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The same Greek word hypomonēn is also used here for patience (Strong’s G5281).
Rom. 8:24-25 says, “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” God clearly has a process in mind here. And process usually takes place over time. There is power and reward in patience. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
God Is Patient
We serve and love and are adopted by a patient God, and we are created in His image, so it would be a deviation and anomaly from His divine nature to lack or be without this spiritual grace and fruit. 2 Pet. 3:9 (NKJV) says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” The Greek word for longsuffering here is makrothymei, derived from makrothumeó, meaning I suffer long, have patience, perseverance or forbearance (Strong’s G3114).
We as disciples of Christ are admonished and warned to not grow weary in well doing. Gal. 6:9-10 (NKJV) says, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” The MSG translation reads, “So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.” This is a promise of God that we can stand on, war with, and take to the bank.
Patience and Contentment are Closely Aligned
Patience and contentment are closely aligned in meaning. Phil. 4:11-13 (NIV) notes, “…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” This is a picture of patience.
I have been waiting for many years for some prophecies to be fulfilled, while certain other prophecies have already come to pass. In fact, the first prophecy I received in 1995 took 13 years to manifest—the same length of time for Joseph’s dream or vision to come to pass in Egypt when he was brought before Pharaoh and promoted. David also had to wait 13 years before he saw his prophecy of becoming a king come to pass, and another 7 years before he was crowned and coronated as king over a unified Israel. Abraham waited much longer than 20 years to see his promise fulfilled of an heir or child of promise birthed from Sarah. How about you? Are you waiting for some promises of God or prophecies from His ministers to come to pass in your life? If so, you are in good company, and in God’s process and will.
I believe in acceleration, alignment, anointing, character, gifting, faithfulness, fruits, favor, and love and seek to acquire, develop, practice and steward those regularly. But, I also believe in due season and the fullness of time, and in patience, preparation, promotion, diligence, humility, honor, service, endurance, perseverance, steadfastness, and maturity. Somehow, in God’s wisdom, economy, justice and divine timing, these things come together and converge for those who are willing to pay the price required for their assignment or destiny. God is ultimately in control and we either trust Him with our lives, our families, our health, our security, our provision, our reputation, our identity, our assignments, our destiny and legacy, and our eternal souls, or we don’t. The choice is ours.
Last New Year’s Eve, the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “I am giving you Phil. 4:11 as a key verse for you to live by and master in 2018.” I have since taken that verse to heart. So, the next time you hesitate to pray for patience, think again and reconsider. You may be delaying God’s plans and promotion for your life. Those who mock this virtue by saying, “Be careful what you pray for because you might receive it,” will reap what they sow. Be different. Acquire and steward patience, and grow and prosper accordingly.
Be Content, Patient, Prayerful and Thankful
In closing, Prov. 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Don’t be heart sick, and don’t be weary in well doing. Rather, be content, be patient, be prayerful and be thankful. Maintain an attitude of gratitude. Patience really is a virtue, a spiritual fruit and grace. Take this ancient advice and put it into daily practice and reap the rewards: “Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful" (2 Chron. 20:20, NIV). The NLT says, “Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed." The King James 2000 adds, “Believe in the LORD your God, so shall you be established; believe his prophets, so shall you prosper.”
Isa. 40:31 says, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Lam. 3:25 adds, “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.” King David said in Psa. 62:5-7, “My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.”
Wait for God’s promises patiently and don’t be anxious or afraid (Psa. 139:23-24; Phil. 4:6-7). Rather, be courageous and bold and dream big (Dan. 11:32; Prov. 28:1; Eph. 3:14-21; 2 Tim. 1:7; Jas. 5:13-18). Heb. 10:36 (NLT) states, “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” The KJV translation cites, “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” We all need patience, whether we know it or not, to inherit God’s promises. The wise among us learn to develop and cultivate patience, to practice and steward it, and to reap the benefits and rewards in so doing. I bless you to grow in patience and thereby cooperate with the divine process of sanctification and spiritual maturity.
Bruce Cook, PhD
Dr Cook is a Presenter at The Chicago Regional Destiny Arising Summit
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