Acceptable Sins Not Excepted: Impatience

The clock’s ticking…we’re waiting!

Impatience. It is unbecoming in the tamest of circumstances, but, when allowed to fester as an ongoing pattern of life, it can take a far more dangerous turn.

A spirit of impatience in daily life is ultimately a spirit of impatience demonstrated toward God, His timing, and His sovereign purposes. If we are honest, we come to realize that our impatience is a result of our desire to be in control of our circumstances. If we are even more honest, we admit that, at times, our impatience can lead not only to a lack of trust, but to unfounded irritability and even anger.

Annoyed that the commute is taking so long? Perhaps God has a purpose for you being in your car for an extra 10 minutes. Wondering why you are still waiting on that promotion or new job? God likely has His reasons.

The more clear your view of the sovereign purpose of God and His control in your life, the more patience you will have. Patience is the virtue that comes to those who don’t try to control everything in their lives.[1] 

And yet, even we who proclaim belief in the sovereignty of God often find our patience wearing thin in the face of everyday adversity. Even minor roadblocks may result in frustration and complaint.

How, then, can we cultivate a spirit of patience rather than impatience? First, we can read, know, and understand what the Lord has said regarding patience in His Word.

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)

When we realize that patience is a fruit of the Spirit, do we not, as chosen children of the King, desire to manifest that great character? And if this is indeed a fruit of the Spirit, is it not something that God Himself grants us and strengthens within us (Colossians 1:11)?

Patience reveals our faith in God’s timing, omnipotence, and love.[2]

Indeed. Further, in the Greek language, patience is a word of action, which wholly destroys the modern-day notion of patience as an attitude of passivity.

We are called to demonstrate patience in both the major and minor circumstances of life. Whether we are waiting in line at the store, or waiting, incessantly it may seem, for a difficult trial to pass. In fact, God in His sovereignty often ordains trials so that our patience might be perfected.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2–4)

We not only have patience in our circumstances, but we have patience with one another.

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Patience, then, is a virture to be demonstrated by those who belong to Christ. We see many examples of this in Scripture:

* The prophets were patient (James 5:10);
* Abraham was patient (Hebrews 6:15);
* Jesus was patient (Hebrews 12:2).

As we see Christ demonstrate patience, we also see how this fruit of the Spirit is connected to mercy.

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:15–16)

If Christ is patient, is not the Father also patient? Psalm 86 reminds of His longsuffering even as He remains utterly merciful and gracious (Psalm 86:15). It is because God is so patient that men are brought to repentance!

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4)

Was He not patient even in the days of Noah (1 Peter 3:20)? Is He not still patient today?

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

God has indeed been patient to a world of sinners! Once we understand what Scripture says about the characteristic of patience, we find ourselves running to the throne of grace, begging for greater measures of this great fruit. And the great God whom we serve will certainly be faithful to grant such a Christ-honoring request.

1. John MacArthur, Bible Questions and Answers, Part 59, accessed 01 September 2017.
2. Got Questions, “What Does the Bible Say About Patience?” accessed 18 October 2017.

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