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How to develop Godly patience

Real, godly patience is
vitally important in overcoming
the trials of this life and
qualifying for God's Kingdom.
Here's how to have this patience.


Patience, you tell yourself.

You were just cut off on the freeway by another driver, and you missed your turn. Your first urge was to blast your horn at him or call him some name. He was speeding anyway. Why couldn't he have just eased into the lane behind you?

But then you catch yourself, and begin looking for the next exit.

G.Sandilands 8/81

You're in the supermarket. You just stopped in to pick up a couple of items — you're due somewhere and are already behind schedule. And wouldn't you know it? Only one check stand is open, and you're the fourth person in line.

You have several options. You can leave in disgust and come back later to get your groceries. You can find the store manager and, fuming, give him a piece of your mind. Or you can calmly wait your turn and be cheerful about the whole thing.


We all need to develop more patience to deal with problems in our everyday lives — disagreements with our mates, annoyances from our children, unfair treatment from employers and fellow workers, inconsiderate acts of our friends.

But, as Christians, we have an even greater need to develop real godly patience, living, as we do, in the pulsating pressure cooker that is this end time. We are challenged to endure to the end, and to patiently wait for the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment on earth of the Kingdom of God.

Paul tells us, "But if we hope for that we see not [our birth into God's Family], then do we with patience wait for it" (Rom. 8:25).

So what exactly is true, effective, godly patience? And how can we develop more of it, to better deal with everyday trials and to endure until Christ's return?


Cheerful endurance

Hebrews 12:1 tells us to "lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." Patience is one of the virtues Peter tells us to "add" to keep from falling away from the faith (II Pet. 1:5-10).

James writes that Christians should "count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (Jas. 1:2-4).

In all the verses referred to above, the word patience is translated from the Greek word hupomone. This Greek word means "cheerful or hopeful endurance, patience, patient continuance or waiting."

People with real patience bear trials calmly. They are steadfast in the face of adversity or strain. Patient people are not hasty or impetuous, but act with wisdom and discretion. The Bible gives many examples of people who were shining examples of patience. God's Word also records the failures of some others to exercise this godly trait.


Real patience — and the lack of it

The ancient Israelites' lack of godly patience caused them no end of troubles. They saw God's direct intervention to help them with miracle after miracle. Yet they became impatient and rebelled time and again rather than trust God for food, water, protection from enemies and proper leadership.

But notice why ancient Israel's example is recorded for us:

"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" (Rom. 15:4).

By studying the examples in God's Word and using God's Spirit to help us avoid the mistakes recorded there, we can develop more godly patience.

The prophet Samuel had arranged to meet King Saul at Gilgal and offer sacrifices there before a battle with the Philistines. When the appointed time came and went and Samuel didn't appear, Saul began to worry.

Saul and the people with him grew more and more impatient and fearful, until Saul decided to offer the sacrifices himself, in direct contravention of God's command.

Immediately after Saul's sin, Samuel appeared (if Saul had only waited a while longer!). The prophet condemned the king's act, and informed Saul that God had rejected him from being king of Israel (I Sam. 13:7­14).

Jesus Christ told a parable about a servant who owed a great debt to a certain king (Matt. 18:23-25). When the servant begged for mercy, the king, in an act of patience and kindness, released the servant from the debt.

But then this same servant went out and cast into prison a man who owed him far less than he had owed the king. The punishment for his lack of patience?

"Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as i had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him" (verses 32-34).


Wait for the Lord

The servants of God throughout history have manifested this trait of godly patience.

Abraham patiently waited a quarter of a century for the son God promised him from his wife Sarah. Abraham's patience is one of the many reasons God considered Abraham His friend.

"For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swear by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise" (Heb. 6:13-15).

Remember the patriarch Job? God allowed Satan to utterly destroy everything Job had and then to rack his body with severe pain. yet Job set a tremendous example of patience, which James later made a special point of referring to (Jas. 5:11).

King David, unlike Saul who preceded him, had great patience, which was linked with an abiding faith in God. David's psalms are filled with expressions of this attitude of patience:

"I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry" (Ps. 40:1).

"Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. . . . Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee" (Ps. 25:5, 21).

"I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope" (Ps. 130:5).

"Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation" (Ps. 62:1).

The apostle Paul, in the service of God's Work, underwent hardships that we today can scarcely imagine (2 Cor. 11:24-33). Yet he endured patiently, and exhorted others to do likewise:

"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" (Rom. 5:3-5).

"And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ" (2 Thess. 3:5).

'Be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (Heb. 6:12).

The greatest example of patience was set by Jesus Christ, who, as an innocent Lamb, died a hideous death to make possible mankind's reconciliation to God: "For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" (Heb. 12:3).