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Let Patience Grow

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Let Patience Grow

MP3 Audio (13.11 MB)


Let Patience Grow

MP3 Audio (13.11 MB)

Let's take a closer look at what at first might seem to just be a simple word - patience. However, we'll see that this medium-sized word is a very large-sized addition to our Christian lives.




Have you ever lost your patience with somebody? I guess I can sit down; nobody has. OK. Have you ever let your im patience get the better of you, or your temper get the better of you, as you wait for somebody to get their act together? Surely not. And you always exercise the most tolerance when driving in heavy rush-hour traffic, because the Cincinnati rush-hour traffic lasts about 45 minutes. Not too bad.

So, do you always show care and patience when dealing with other people? Do you quietly listen to your spouse as he or she expounds upon a subject? Do your children always bring out the best of you when it comes to patience? Margaret Thatcher was quoted as saying in The Observer on April 4, 1989, “I’m extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.”

One of the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit is patience. It’s translated differently in many Biblical passages—sometimes as longsuffering , sometimes as forbearance —but this adds to the richness of the meaning of the simple word, patience. Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and it’s something we each need—right now! But it takes a little time for patience to grow.

The fruits of God’s Spirit are amazing qualities. They can’t be explained by mathematical formulas or equations. It’s Spirit, but they become a part of our heart as God’s Spirit dwells in us.

The word patience as we use it in everyday speech actually stands for several different words found in the Greek in the New Testament. They are used to describe a Godly reaction to a variety of situations, and these different words and usages blend together to produce an overall quality that we call patience.

The truly patient Christian must display Godly patience in all of the various circumstances requiring it, and we who desire to grow in patience must give attention to every facet of this quality as it applies to our lives. So, today, let’s take a closer look at what at first might seem to just be a simple word. However, we’ll see that this medium-sized word is a very large-sized addition to our Christian lives.

I’ve titled this message, Let Patience Grow.

Miriam Webster gives this definition to “patient”:

(1) Bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint. (2) Manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain. [In the King James and the New King James , that word “forbearance” is often used in the translation.] (3) Not hasty or impetuous. (4) Steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity. (5) Able or willing to bear.
So what I want to do is take a magnifying glass and note five aspects of patience, and you’ll see that this fruit of the Spirit is quite broad in its application in our lives. The first point I put together, the first note I have is called “Patience while suffering mistreatment.”

1. Patience while suffering mistreatment

One aspect of patience involves enduring some kind of mistreatment or abuse. The Biblical response to suffering at the hands of others is called “longsuffering.” That’s how it’s often translated, like I said, in the King James and the New King James versions; and that rendering, perhaps, best describes its meaning. Some translations will say “patience,” but the King James says “longsuffering,” and that’s patience while suffering.

This aspect of patience is the ability to suffer a long time while being mistreated, without growing resentful, angry, or bitter. Look at Galatians, chapter 5, verse 22 . Let’s start here where the fruits of the Spirit are mentioned. Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×
, turn over and we’ll read here:

Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering… it is translated here as “patience” in the New American Standard Bible, the NIV, the RSV, but the King James and the New King James say “longsuffering.” Then it completes the thought with kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

In other words, this is what we’re supposed to be doing. And these fruits become a part of our innermost being when we’re led by the Holy Spirit. These are the fruits that we see. They become a part of our heart as we live our lives, and the occasions for exercising patience are numerous. They vary from malicious wrongs committed against us, all the way to seemingly innocent practical jokes that people think are funny and that, you know, try our patience. It can include ridicule, scorn, insults, undeserved rebukes, as well as outright persecution. But the Christian who is the victim of such mistreatment must react with longsuffering—patience. As the King James says, “longsuffering”—suffering long.

I have a quote here from Leonardo da Vinci, who lived in the 1400s, as you know; and he says, “Patience serves as a protection against wrongs…” This point is about, you know, having patience when things aren’t going your way, when you’re suffering mistreatment. “Patience serves as a protection against wrongs, as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you. So, in like manner,” says da Vinci, “you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.” Some interesting words of wisdom from Leonardo da Vinci. If you’re patient when suffering wrong, then it will be powerless to vex your mind.

The apostle Paul especially stressed the need for longsuffering in the life of each of us, a Godly person; and he mentions this in his first letter to the Corinthians in his list of qualities that characterize love. If you recall where he says, “Love suffers long and is kind.” There’s that “longsuffering” again; and as we just read, it is one of the nine traits which he calls the fruit of the Spirit.
Let’s turn to Ephesians, chapter 4 , and start with verse 1 for a moment. When Paul describes to the Ephesians a life worthy of God’s calling, he includes the trait of longsuffering. So those who are called by God have to have this trait of being patient, of being longsuffering.

Ephesians 4:1-3 Ephesians 4:1-3 1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation with which you are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
American King James Version×
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Once again, some translations put in “be patient” instead of “with longsuffering.” But I believe that this word “longsuffering” really characterizes what Paul is trying to get across here. Those who walk worthy of their calling are patient; and they suffer long when faced with wrongs, when things don’t always go their way.

Look at Colossians, chapter 1 . Let’s turn over to chapter 1. Paul also includes this when he gives the Colossians a list of Godly qualities with which we should clothe ourselves. In Colossians 1, verse 9 :

Colossians 1:9-11 Colossians 1:9-11 9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That you might walk worthy of the Lord to all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, to all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness;
American King James Version×
For this reason we also, says Paul, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord— once again walking worthy of our calling— fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy… and I think that’s the tough part there, “with joy.”

The Greek word for patience here in verse 11 is makrothumia , and it’s a combination of two Greek words. When you read here in verse 11, “patience and longsuffering with joy,” you could insert, “long temper.” We’re all familiar with a short temper, but what about a long temper? You see, being slow to anger is an attribute of God’s Spirit—a fruit. Patience and longsuffering. It’s having a long temper. Paul mentions it to Timothy in a direct context of patience while suffering mistreatment in II Timothy, chapter 3. If you will, make a note of II Timothy, chapter 3, verses 10-11 . Here we see the direct context of patience while suffering mistreatment. He says:

II Tim. 3:10-11 – But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, which could be translated “patience,” as I said, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra——what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.

See how Paul is tying together longsuffering and patience with persecutions and afflictions?  And it’s a tough thing to do. But, as he said, God delivered him out of those trying situations.

How can we grow in this aspect of patience that suffers long under the ill treatment of others? Under persecution, like Paul did? Let’s look at the example of Jesus Christ in I Peter, chapter 2 . It’s a good verse to remind ourselves of, because Jesus Christ suffered greatly at the hands of others; but notice how He reacted.

I Pet. 2:23 – …when He was reviled, did not revile in return… of course, with our human nature, we want to get back, don’t we? We want revenge!… did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously…

So we note that the opposite of retaliation is to entrust things to God. Commit ourselves to Him who judges righteously, who knows all; and so, the opposite of retaliation is to entrust things to God, who judges justly. And God’s justice is absolute, as Paul reminds us in Romans, chapter 12 . He promises, “I will repay,” says the Lord. We don’t have to get justice ourselves. The Lord will repay.

One of the thoughts that most disturbs us when suffering at the hands of others is that our tormenters will escape justice, that they’ll get away with it, that they will not receive the punishment that they deserve; but we have to remember when things go wrong for us because of other people that we leave the issue in the hand of God. This is real longsuffering. This is real patience. Leaving it fully in God’s hands. We are to be confident that God will render justice, even if it takes a long time. There are some promises in II Thessalonians, chapter 1, showing that it may not be till Christ returns that true justice will prevail. We may have to be patient sometimes about some issues for a very long time.

Look at I Peter, chapter 4 —go over a couple of pages—in verse 19 . Instead of hoping and waiting for an opportunity for revenge, the patient, longsuffering church member prays for God’s forgiveness of those who have wronged them.

I Pet. 4:19 – Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

To develop patience in the face of mistreatment by others, we must also develop a conviction about the faithfulness of God to work on our behalf. In the sermonette today, we heard about the faithfulness of God; and here in I Peter, chapter 4, and verse 19, we read about our faithful Creator who knows when we suffer. And He will go to work on our behalf. We should entrust ourselves to God’s justice and commit ourselves to His faithfulness; and God will deal in faithfulness with us, as long as we allow our patience to grow. We have to let patience grow in our lives.

You remember Joseph. He exemplified such a commitment to the faithfulness of God. After he had been abused by his brothers, do you remember what he was able to say to them? Joseph had been left for dead by his brothers decades earlier. Remember what he said in Genesis, chapter 50, and verse 20 ? I’ll read it to you. Here we see Joseph’s faithfulness when he had been wronged by others. When he had been mistreated by others, he said:

Genesis 50:20 Genesis 50:20But as for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it to good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
American King James Version×
But as for you, he says to his brothers, you meant evil against me… it was wrong! But God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

So even when things seem to be going wrong and we’re being mistreated, God can bring good out of it; and years later you may find out why God allowed it. So we have to have faithfulness in Him as our Creator that He knows our situation, He knows what’s going on; and we have to trust and have faithfulness in Him and let our patience develop and grow.

God can and does take the deliberately harmful acts of others, like what happened to Joseph, and turn them into acts for good, both for us and for others. He sees all. And the person who is patient under mistreatment by others is the person who has developed such a confidence in the wisdom, power, and faithfulness of God that he willingly entrusts his circumstances into God’s hands.

It’s an amazing quality for us to have. It’s a difficult one, but it’s an amazing quality to have, to truly develop patience when we’re mistreated by others.

Let’s look now at a second point which I have titled “Patience in responding to provocation.”

2. Patience in responding to provocation

Provocation is a little different than suffering mistreatment that others may bring upon you. Provocation is different. The aspect of patience that is called longsuffering is also used to describe the response of the Godly person to provocation by others. The word “provocation” is used to denote those actions of others that tend to arouse our anger or our wrath, that cause us to want to lose our temper. You get provoked. But unlike mistreatment by others, which is often out of our control, provocation often finds us in a position of power to do something about it. It may come in the form of a deliberate goading or nagging of us; but whatever form the action takes, it is often deliberate and we are in a position to retaliate or punish swiftly and harshly. Perhaps we’re the boss and we can fire the person. Maybe we’re the parent and we can do whatever to our kids when they provoke us. We can take harsh action when we’re provoked. This is the situation I am trying to describe right now, when we’re in a position of power to do something about it.

How does God react to provocation? God bears with great patience the provocation of sinful, rebellious men and women who despise His authority and ignore or show contempt for His law. You know how often God is provoked by mankind; and He doesn’t bring down a bolt of lightning every time, or even once, right now. God is provoked all the time; and yet, He has a patient plan that He is working out. People will get their due.

Well, it’s an interesting concept to have when we’re provoked. Of course, the sons of Zebedee wanted to bring down lightning right away. Christ said, “No!” Mankind despises not only God’s authority, they despise His patience as well. “Hey, look. See, He doesn’t even care. He doesn’t do anything about it.” And yet, God continues to show the riches of His patience to those who least deserve it.

James, chapter 1, verse 19 , let’s turn there for a moment.

James 1:19-20 James 1:19-20 19 Why, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man works not the righteousness of God.
American King James Version×
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
You see, God is the opposite of rash or harsh or swift or unthought-out judgment. The key to patience under provocation is to seek and develop God’s own trait of being slow to anger. Paul says that one characteristic of love is that it is not easily angered.

The parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18 , I think, is a good one for us to read. Let’s go through that. Matthew 18, verse 21 , because here we see the opposite of how God would have handled the situation. The parable of the unmerciful servant is designed to help us recognize our own need of patience toward others, recognizing the patience of God toward us. Let’s just read through it here:

Matthew 18:21-35 Matthew 18:21-35 21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus said to him, I say not to you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. 23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened to a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought to him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But for as much as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that you owe. 29 And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and sought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay you all. 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told to their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said to him, O you wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt, because you desired me: 33 Should not you also have had compassion on your fellow servant, even as I had pity on you? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due to him. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also to you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
American King James Version×
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” And you know the story. Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” In other words, he meant we are to always forgive those who trespass against us. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’” See the word “patience” here? “Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.” Of course, the king here represents God or Jesus Christ. “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

A very strong lesson here. In this parable, the unmerciful servant was deeply indebted to his master, according to the New International Version, by several million dollars. It was a huge sum. The king of the parable obviously represents God, and the deeply indebted servant represents each of us in our relationship to God as sinners. And as the parable develops, the first servant is completely forgiven of his huge debt; but just after he leaves the presence of his master, he finds a fellow servant who owes him only a few dollars compared to millions, and he impatiently demands payment, even having the man thrown into prison. We can easily be like the unmerciful servant when we lose our patience under provocation. We want him to pay up right now! We discipline our children out of anger, while God disciplines us out of love, if we’re not careful. We’re eager to punish the person who provokes us, while God here shows He is eager to forgive when we have the right attitude. We’re eager to exercise our authority, while God is eager to exercise and show us His love and concern.

Now, this kind of patience does not ignore the provocation of others. It simply seeks to respond to them in a Godly way. It enables us to control out tempers when we are provoked and to seek to deal with the person and the provocation in a way that tends to heal relationships rather than aggravate the problem. Rather than swift punishment that only aggravates the situation, it seeks the ultimate good of the other individual, rather than the immediate satisfaction of our own emotions. So this is how God is when it comes to being provoked by us.

Look at Jonah, chapter 4 . This is a great example of this situation or this concept. Jonah, chapter 4, verses 1-2 . Let’s turn to Jonah. Of course, you all know the story of Jonah and the whale or Jonah and the big fish; and Jonah finally follows through on what God had asked him to do, after trying to flee from the situation and flee from the commission God had given him. And then God didn’t take out His wrath on Nineveh, and here’s how Jonah reacted to God’s mercy upon Nineveh:

Jonah 4:1-2 Jonah 4:1-2 1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. 2 And he prayed to the LORD, and said, I pray you, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before to Tarshish: for I knew that you are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repent you of the evil.
American King James Version×
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.”

Jonah was bent out of shape because he knew before he even arrived there the likelihood of God jerking the rug out from under him by being slow to anger. He said, ” See, I knew you’d do this before I even left. I came over here, I warned Nineveh, I wanted to see the action, I wanted to see this happen, and You didn’t do it! Because you’re slow to anger, and I knew that. So why did you send me over here?” The reaction of Jonah is very interesting. He was out for blood. He was out for action. He wanted to see God, you know, obliterate Nineveh. But Nineveh repented and God relented in what He was going to do. But Jonah’s reaction is very similar to what a lot of people would do. When they’re provoked, they want God to zap them. And this passage shows part of the anger within Jonah, of course; but we also ought to see this as a lesson of hope, that God grants space and time for people to repent.

We all need to be very appreciative and thankful of that fact, that there is space for repentance in the very nature of God, in the very way He is. He wants all to accept His plan, be converted, and receive eternal life. And He’s willing to grant us time to repent, as well, like He did with Nineveh, so that we can be reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ.

The person whose temperament is conducive to losing his temper must especially work at patience when being provoked. People who have a quick temper can really fly off when they’re provoked. Rather than excusing the self by saying, “That’s just the way I am,” this person must acknowledge his quick temper as a sinful habit before God.

So, to summarize the first two points: (1) We must have patience under mistreatment and (2) patience under provocation.

Thirdly, I have, “Patience in tolerating other peoples’ shortcomings.”

3. Patience in tolerating others’ shortcomings

People are always behaving in ways that, though not directed directly against us, affect us and irritate us and disappoint us. You know what it’s like when people do things that just irritate you. Why do they do that? It may be the driver ahead of us who’s driving too slowly or the friend who’s late for an appointment or the neighbor who’s inconsiderate late at night. People just do things that irritate us. You know what I’m talking about—the driver in front of us that’s going too slow, the driver behind us that’s on our bumper going too fast—people just do stuff. And more often than not, it’s an unconscious action of some family member whose irritating habit is magnified because of close daily association. The kind of patience it takes to overlook these circumstances is probably demanded of us most often within our families and our close friendships—the people we’re closest to, people we know the best.

William Shakespeare wrote, “How poor are they who have not patience. What wound did ever heal but by degrees.” And so, when you have a wound, it takes time to heal, is what he’s saying, and how poor are they who have not patience. John Sanderson in his book, The Fruit of the Spirit , observed, “Hardly a day passes that one hears sneering remarks about the stupidity, the awkwardness, the ineptitude of others.” You know, around the water cooler or whatever at work, you hear people talking about stupid things other people have done; and such remarks often stem from a feeling that we’re smarter than them or more capable than those with whom we’re being impatient. Whatever abilities we possess have been given to us by God, so we have no reason to feel that we’re any better than anybody else. The patient reaction to the faults and failures of others is probably best described by the word forbearance , being forbearing, as it is used in Ephesians, chapter 4 , and Colossians, chapter 3 . We’ll turn there and look at this here in a moment.

Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 2 , is where we’re going to go. Literally, the word means “to put up with.” To forbear means to put up with something. It can be used in a negative sense of grudging endurance of another person’s faults. Paul uses forbearance in the sense of tolerance of another person, tolerance of another’s faults. And so, a good modern rendition of forbearance might be “tolerance.” Not necessarily tolerance as you’ll see it in the liberal media today, but in this sense here of forbearance. It’s a good word for describing this aspect of patience.

Let’s look at Ephesians, chapter 4. We were there earlier, actually. Let’s look at it again and notice another word:

Ephesians 4:2-3 Ephesians 4:2-3 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
American King James Version×
with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering… that’s where we read “longsuffering” a moment ago, which means to be patient… forbearing one another in love… there’s that word “forbearing”… endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Forbearance is a part of building unity within the body of Christ, as we see there in verse 3, keeping “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Forbearance is not being impatient with others. Forbearance is tolerating other peoples’ little quirks. And it’s a quality we must have as we let patience grow in our lives.
Look at it again in Colossians, chapter 3, verse 13 , this word “forbearing.”

Colossians 3:13 Colossians 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do you.
American King James Version×
Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do you. (I just read from the Authorized or King James Version. )
See how forbearing one another and forgiving one another go together here? We ought to consider the unity of the body far more important than the petty irritants or disappointments of others; and here in verse 13, Paul equates forbearance with forgiveness. The thought of grievances or complaints used in this verse seems to connote the idea of faultfinding with petty actions—a quarrel—rather than concern over more serious problems. We must not let the habits of others irritate us. We must not let that turn into a quarrel.

We must be forbearing, patient with people. And every day, God patiently bears with us. We have a lot of quirks that He would like to have us get out of our lives, too. Every day when we’re tempted to become impatient with our friends, our neighbors, our loved ones, we have to remember how God bears patiently with each of us. And our faults and failures before God may be much more serious than the petty actions of others that tend to irritate us, make us upset, make us angry. God calls us to graciously bear with the weaknesses of other people, tolerating them, forgiving them, even as He has forgiven us, is what we read here in Ephesians and Colossians.

Such scriptural forbearance does not forbid correcting someone else’s faults or confronting someone because of a really bad habit or a sin. You can still address the situation if it seriously bothers you. But we’re taught that such correction should be done with the right attitude, in an attitude of patience and forbearance. We must make sure our desire to correct or confront is not from a spirit of impatience, but from a spirit of love and concern for the welfare of the other person.

So, remember to be patient with other peoples’ shortcomings—like we don’t have any of our own, right?

Fourthly, I’ll put another category of “Patience in persevering through adversity.”

4. Patience in persevering through adversity

The first three points have pretty much been being patient when others mistreat us, when other people provoke us, that kind of thing. Now we’re talking more about circumstances. Whereas longsuffering should be our patient reaction to people who mistreat or provoke us, endurance and perseverance is our patient reaction to circumstances that get under our collar to try us.

Endurance is the ability to stand up under adversity. Perseverance is the ability to progress and go forward in spite of it. These two English words are translations of the same Greek word. Perseverance and endurance are translations of the same Greek word that simply represent two different views of this quality and is patience through trying circumstances.
The source of adversity may be ill treatment by other people, of course, as when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, or when Saul persecuted David, or from natural causes. Whatever the source of our adverse circumstances, the key to endurance and patience is to believe, once again, that God is ultimately in control of all circumstances, working out events for our good, as we have faith and trust in Him.

The stories of Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David, Job, and the list goes on and on—these stories were written so we might have the privilege of seeing God at work, so we have the privilege of seeing how He worked out situations in their lives, controlling their circumstances, ultimately for their good and for His glory, to show that He is Lord. And these examples that we read about in the passages of scripture should encourage us to believe that God controls our circumstances as well. He didn’t just control the circumstances of Job or Joseph. He controls our circumstances as well, as called and chosen people in His family, destined for eternal life.

We may not always recognize this control, may not always see it; but we have to believe it. We have to believe in our Creator’s faithfulness and His promises. Remember, Job never knew why those things happened to him. But he came to the place where he accepted what God had allowed. Most often we don’t see the purpose of trials; but through the encouragement of the scriptures and the stories we read, we should have hope. We should be encouraged. Through hope, then, we persevere and we make it through. This is having patience and perseverance.

Let’s look at Romans, chapter 5, and read verse 3 , if you would. Romans 5:3 Romans 5:3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience;
American King James Version×
, because endurance and perseverance while being patient are associated with hope, in the scriptures—a patient hope. And in each of four instances in which Paul speaks of perseverance or endurance here in Romans, it is in a context of hope. Here is one of those passages:

Romans 5:3-4 Romans 5:3-4 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
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And not only that, he says, but we also glory in tribulations… why on earth would you do that? It’s because we know that tribulation produces perseverance, which in the King James is also translated as “patience.” So tribulation produces perseverance or patience, and this perseverance or patience produces character, and the character produces hope.

Do you see how patience and perseverance and hope are tied together? Paul commends the brethren for their endurance that was inspired by their hope. The life we live on this earth is a pursuit of the hope of eternal life that God has offered to us.

In Hebrews 11 —or Hebrews in general, actually—it is likened to a distance race which must be run with perseverance. Our race is a lifelong race. It’s not just a quick hundred-meter sprint or dash and we’re done. It takes some perseverance. It’s a long race. Our Christian experience is not a sprint that’s soon over. It’s a distance race that lasts a lifetime, a lifetime of experience. It requires perseverance because the reward, the hope we have, is an eternal future when we will never die. Endurance and perseverance are also frequently associated with suffering in the Bible. You see, it’s not always an easy race.

Romans 15 , let’s turn over to Romans 15 and we’ll see this. We may not like the connection between endurance, perseverance, and suffering, because we shrink, of course, from suffering. Nobody wants to have things go badly, but endurance can be produced only under stress—whether a physical stress or a spiritual stress. That’s what endurance is. In Romans, Paul says suffering produces perseverance, as in Romans, chapter 5. James says trials that test our faith develop perseverance, and endurance and perseverance are all qualities we want to possess as sons of God. But we hate to go through the process that produces it, produces endurance. Romans 15, verse 4 . I’ll read through to verse 6. Paul says to the Romans:

Romans 15:4-6 Romans 15:4-6 4 For whatever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That you may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. So you see how endurance works toward and is the cause of our hope . Verse 5, Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a Spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Jesus Christ, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. [NIV]

Notice Romans 15, verse 4 . Now, in the New King James Version —I read from the NIV now notice from the New King James Version:

Romans 15:4-6 Romans 15:4-6 4 For whatever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That you may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. So instead of endurance, now, the NKJ says “patience.” Do you see how they’re the same word. They work together. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus…

The trials that God either sends or allows develop patience in us, develop endurance in us, and produce perseverance. The Bible constantly affirms the role of God’s Spirit in this, working in our lives, strengthening our patience, strengthening our endurance, creating longsuffering and perseverance and forbearance.

Romans, chapter 8 , go back a couple of pages, and we’ll read a familiar passage in verse 26 .

Romans 8:26 Romans 8:26Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
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Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. When we are persevering, when we’re enduring, when we’re developing patience, when we’re being longsuffering, when we’re forbearing, the Spirit helps in our weaknesses . For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Verse 27 –   Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Verse 28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

And so, this is a good reminder of our fourth point, patience in perseverance through adversity.

And then, a fifth point that I have penciled in here is “Patience with God.”

5. Patience with God

I guess a subtitle would be, “Don’t get ahead of God.” Patience with God! Perhaps one of the most frustrating times we experience is when we see what we feel is a wrong being committed and we want God to take action on it. But it seems that God is not doing anything about it. We pray for Him to intervene, and yet, the wrongdoer just appears to be getting away with it. And we pray, “How long, O God, before you do something?” Maybe we’ve fasted about it, prayed about it.

We have to realize that God sees and knows all. He knows when patience is called for in dealing with a situation. But not us! We think we see what’s going on, but perhaps we don’t have the full picture or all the facts. Perhaps God has another purpose in mind, too. Maybe He’s allowing it. Look at the case of the disciple Peter, trying to protect Jesus from the advancing mob about to crucify Him. I’m going to read from three gospel passages to get the full story. Mr. Thompson is here right now. He’s teaching the ABC class, “Harmony of the Gospels,” the gospels of Jesus Christ here. And it’s interesting, just in this one passage we’re going to look at how sometimes you have to take a little bit from each of the gospels to get the full picture.

John 18, verse 10 . Let’s start there. We’re going to read three passages about the same story, and each passage will give us a little bit more of the picture. John 18, verse 10, right before Jesus Christ is about to be carried away to be beaten and then crucified:

John 18:10 John 18:10Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
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Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.

OK, so Peter pulled out his sword, cut off Malchus’s right ear. Now we go to Matthew, chapter 26 , to look at the harmony between these accounts. Matthew, chapter 26, verse 51 . Let’s get a little bit more to the story.

Matthew 26:51-52 Matthew 26:51-52 51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. 52 Then said Jesus to him, Put up again your sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
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And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus… well, now, we already know that it was Simon Peter, right? One of those that was with Jesus was Peter… stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Well, we know the servant was actually Malchus, from John’s account. But Jesus said to him… and here’s a little bit more to the story, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”

Here we see an additional principle added when we read the account in Matthew, chapter 26. And now go to Luke, chapter 22, verse 51 .

Luke 22:51 Luke 22:51And Jesus answered and said, Suffer you thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
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When this happened, …Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.

The other accounts didn’t mention this, that Christ, then, healed the servant Malchus’s ear, put it back on, and said to Peter, “I’m permitting this.” What Peter had to learn here was not to take matters into his own hands. Admirable, maybe, but the wrong timing altogether. We, too, have to be careful not to get ahead of God. And, of course, Peter was right there with God—God in the flesh, Jesus—and got right ahead of the curve. We need to have patience, waiting on God for His solution to our problem. Our solution may not be His solution. It’s a fine balance that we have to strike. We have to take action in our lives, yes; we have to obey Him, but not take action that gets us out ahead of God, all out on our own. We have to wait for God’s answer in many circumstances.

Psalm 27 , we just have a few more scriptures to read here this morning. Psalm, chapter 27, and verse 14 . If you will turn with me to Psalm 27, let’s read verse 14. This is a psalm of David, and he says:

Psalms 27:14 Psalms 27:14Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
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Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord or the Eternal.

Be patient! Let God strengthen your heart and work things out. You can’t take matters into your own hands.

Isaiah, chapter 40 , is another excellent example of this point. Isaiah, chapter 40, and verse 31 . Let’s make a note of this passage:

Isaiah 40:31 Isaiah 40:31But they that wait on 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.
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But those who wait on the Lord, those who do this, those who don’t get out ahead of Him, shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

And so, that’s the condition we want to be in. We want to be working within God’s plan for us. We don’t want to get out ahead of Him and be on our own. There is a time to be patient with God, and let Him do what He wills for us in our lives.

So, to summarize: (1) We must have patience under mistreatment. You see that in the scriptures. (2) Patience under provocation. We see that. (3) Patience in tolerating other peoples’ shortcomings. (4) Patience in persevering through adversity. And having (5) Patience with God. And when we take our discussion today, you can see it’s much more than just being patient with people. “Just be patient.” There’s more to it than that. People without God’s Spirit can be patient with other people. There’s a whole lot more to it. God gives us time, God gives us some space, which strengthens our hope; and He’s very patient in His hope in what we can become in His family. He’s working with us, He’s molding us, He’s strengthening us, He’s developing patience in us, and He’s very patient with us. He views us as His future sons and daughters, and He has given us a lifetime, in most cases, so we will be more like Him. And so, we also must let patience grow.

God looks beyond the now to what we can become later, and He gives us time for that to happen. So, in our relationships with people, do we give them space? Do we look at other people as future sons and daughters that have the same hope we do? It’s always easier to see the problems of other people. We can rattle off a long list about their faults. We see this and we see that about them, often things they don’t see about themselves. But if we are to be Christ-like, we’ve got to be able to think beyond what that person is now, realizing that God has granted them space so that they can become like Him and address those things and change. We have to also remember that the same thing falls back on our shoulders. They probably see similar things in us, as we are given space by God and time by God to prepare to be a son or daughter in His family. Are we looking at other people from that perspective? When we do that, it changes the way we view other people. We see them as objects of hope, too, that God is working with.

Everybody’s got problems. Do we? Do we want other people to only view our problems, our difficulties? Of course not. We know that we’ve got problems and we want to change them. And it’s nice when somebody grants US time to change in their relationship with us. It’s all about patience; and very importantly, don’t forget to have patience with God. Don’t get ahead of Him as He deals with us and other people.

I have one final quote here. It’s from Isaac Newton. Isaac Newton, in talking about patience, says, “If I have ever made any valuable discoveries,”—and we know he made a bunch of valuable discoveries—he says, “If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patience than to any other talent.”

The fruit of patience in all of its aspects—longsuffering, forbearance, endurance, perseverance—is a fruit that is most intimately associated with God’s Holy Spirit working in us. It’s a fruit of the Spirit. All character traits of godliness grow out of and have their foundation in His Spirit, and we must be filled with it. But the fruit of patience often grows in a special way—through endurance, through suffering, through forbearance, through perseverance—and so, I trust this has been a good reminder to let patience grow in your life.