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What the Bible Says About Patience

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


Patience: Definition

Patience is also known as forbearance and long-suffering. It is the ability to wait for something or someone with confidence and calmness. Patience is being able to handle delays graciously without responding in annoyance, anger or frustration.

Patience is being calm when under stress and strain. It is being able to get along with people and put up with their idiosyncrasies without becoming negative toward them.

Unfortunately, patience begets patience. That means in order to be patient, you must have patience. If you pray for patience, you will be tested with something that will prove whether you have it or not.

Patience According to the Bible

We became acquainted with several women in the Bible who were barren. Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Samson's mother, Hannah, and Elizabeth wanted a male child, but they had to wait many years before God opened up their wombs and answered their prayers.

There are many scriptures that encourage people to be patient.

The Bible is full of examples of patience, and all of them involves some form of waiting.

Patience is a fruit of the Spirit along with love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, according to Galatians 5:22-23. God wants all His people to exhibit patience.

"Through patience, a ruler can be persuaded" (Proverbs 25:15).

"Patience is better than pride" (Ecclesiastes 7:8).

We should "be patient with all," according to 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15).

Christians are urged to be patient and " see how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth" (James 5:7-11).

Colossians 3:12 commands believers to be patient. In fact, the scripture says "clothe yourself with patience."


Signs That Someone Is Impatient

There are signs that someone is impatient.

Impatient people get annoyed with other drivers. They honk their horn at stoplights if the car in front of them doesn't move the second the light turns green. They honk their horn during traffic jams. Impatience often leads to road rage.

Impatient people stand at the elevator and push the up or down button several times. They act as though their pushing will make the elevator come much faster, but it doesn't. Only the first push counts. All subsequent pushes are useless.

Impatient people become annoyed with others while standing in line to pay for purchases at the supermarket or a department store.

Impatient people don't sit quietly in a doctor's waiting room. Instead of reading a book or magazine to pass the time, they wiggle in their seat, tap their feet, and sigh many times while waiting.

Impatient people get angry when they are put on hold on the telephone.

Impatient people read the last pages of a book to find out the ending before they read the pages leading up to the end. Then it is no fun when they finally reach the end because they already know how the story ends.

Impatient people don't wait to hear the ending of something someone is telling them. They jump in and complete the story themselves. Most of the time they miss getting some important information because they were too impatient to listen to all of what someone was trying to tell them.

Impatient people can be compared to a farmer planting seeds for a harvest, but he uncovers the soil long before the process is complete. He loses his entire crop because he was too impatient to wait for nature to take its course.

Impatience Leads to Wrong Actions

Impatience can lead people to do and say the wrong things at the wrong time.

The story in Exodus 32 tells how the Israelites became impatient when Moses was on the mountain getting the Ten Commandments from God. By the time Moses came down after forty days, he found that the people had taken the gold they brought from Egypt and made a golden calf to worship.

Moses was so angry when he saw the golden calf and the people dancing and singing that he threw down the tablets and broke them. He had to go back up on the mountain for another forty days for God to make new tablets. That meant the people had to wait twice as long.

Peter cutting off Malchus' right ear

Peter cutting off Malchus' right ear

There is an incident in the New Testament about Peter being impatient. When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter took it upon himself to draw his sword and cut off a soldier's ear because he was too impatient to wait to see what Jesus would do. Jesus picked up the right ear and put it back on Malchus (John 18:10).

What Can Be Done About Impatience?

The irony of patience is that in order to have patience, you must be patient and in order to be patient, one must have patience. If you pray for patience, the only way to know you have it is to be tested because patience is developed and strengthened through waiting.

A story is told about a person who asked God for patience by saying, "God give me patience and hurry up."

Some people might misunderstand and say, "I wait for things but my friends say I don't have patience." Patience is not just waiting. It is how you act while waiting. Are you calm while you wait? Or do you fume and fuss while you wait?

Years ago there was a television commercial where a family was stranded in their car during a snowstorm. They were told it would be at least an hour before help would arrive. The family began communicating with one another by telling jokes and laughing. They were having so much fun that when help arrived, it didn't seem like an hour had passed. So the family told the help to come back later. In other words, they were being creative while they waited, and the wait didn't seem long at all.

Find something creative to do while you wait. Some people file or polish their nails while waiting on the telephone. They read and delete e-mails from their computer or find other things to do while they wait. When the wait is over, they would have accomplished more than just waiting.

One of the truest tests of patience is to be tolerant of others. That simply means taking the time to hear what others are saying. It also means not get annoyed if they ask you to repeat something they don't understand.

Tolerance and patience go hand in hand. They both show a willingness to go along with the behavior of others especially when you know it is only for a short period of time.

Being tolerant of others means not rushing people but allowing them to behave in a relaxed atmosphere around you. They can often tell when an intolerant person makes up unreasonable excuses to get rid of them.

A person can be patient and tolerant with some people but not with others. If you find that's the way it is with you, then evaluate and find out why your tolerant level is higher with some people and much lower with others.

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