The Fruit of the Spirit: Patience

The Fruit of the Spirit: Patience

The Fruit of the Spirit: Patience.

“The fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23.

“The Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.”  (Romans 15:4-5).


(a.) The Fruit is Love. The “fruit” of the Spirit in Galatians 5 is in the singular, not the plural “fruits.” This implies that the first virtue noted in this passage, Love, is the primary unifying quality of the Holy Spirit’s work in one’s character. All the remaining virtues in this list are important aspects of Love. Fruit is meant to be useful, as is the fruit of the Spirit. Wax fruit are not useful in any way. Real fruit is used in every way possible. Perhaps Love is the fruit of the Spirit, and the other qualities listed are Love’s smell, flavor, color, texture, shape, size, nutrition, ripeness. So one could see that the useful fruit of the Spirit includes loving-joy, loving-peace, loving-patience, loving-goodness, loving-faithfulness, loving-gentleness, and loving self-control. Sure enough, patience is acknowledged by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4 as a manifestation of Love… “Love is patient.”

(b.) Definition: “a long holding out of the mind before it gives room to passion” (Bible Dictionary); gracious restraint; the power to endure without complaint something difficult, disagreeable or uncomfortable; waiting through discomfort with peace; to stick with things without quitting.

(c.) In the Bible. There is no one specific word for patience in the Hebrew Bible. In Psalm 37:7 and 40:1 the word for “wait with expectation” was translated patience. To “bear long” was also translated patience. In the New Testament, two Greek words for patience: hupomons: means “remaining under,” as in bearing up under a burden or difficult circumstances; and makrothumis: means “long tempered,” the opposite of short tempered.

(d.) Synonyms: forbearance; endurance; even-tempered; perseverance; long suffering; hopefulness.

(e.) Patience is indeed a virtue, but it is not a stand-alone quality of character. It is a combination of many virtues, including graciousness, generosity, self-control, humility, hope, trust, faith, peacefulness.

(f.) Opposites: impatience; unbelief; discouraged; short-tempered; vengeful; agitated; despairing; hopeless; impulsive.

(g.) Examples of Patience in Scripture (My thanks to notes in NLT for some of these examples listed):

* Prophets – “As an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered.” (James 5:10);

  • Abraham – “After waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” (Hebrews 6:15);
  • Noah – He waited over a year for God’s timing before leaving the ark. (Genesis 8:3-12);
  • Moses – He waited on top of Mt. Sinai for 40 days to receive words from the Lord. (Exodus 24:14-18);
  • Job – He continued for years to wait for answers from God. (Job 14:14);
  • Isaiah – He waited a long time for God to work in Israel. (Isaiah 8:47);
  • Jeremiah – He waited and waited for God’s salvation. (Lamentations 3:25-27);
  • Micah – He waited for a long time to somehow get God’s attention. (Micah 7:7-9);
  • Habakkuk – His job as prophet was to continually warn the people to patiently wait. (Hab.2:1-3);
  • James – He exhorted believers to wait patiently, like a farmer waiting for rain and a harvest. (James 5:7-8);
  • the Saints – “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12).


(a.) “Patience with God is faith; Patience with self is hope; Patience with others is love.” Bertravros, Coptic Theologian.

(b.) Supernatural. Some of us seem to have a head start in being able to show patience by virtue of natural personality. Some people seem to be born even-tempered and patient. But natural patience is not the patience mentioned by Paul in Galatians 5. He lists it as a spiritual virtue, not a natural one. A spiritual quality can only develop in a person’s life when in union with Jesus Christ, for patience is a quality of God’s character. “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you?”  (Romans 2:4); “Even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom is anger falls.” (Romans 9:22); “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promises, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent… Remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved.” (2 Peter 3:9, 15). Paul’s version of patience is clearly supernatural, and involves divine empowerment that results in a patience that is infused with agape love. This type of patience exists in the heart and mind and spirit, not merely in the outer temperament. The fruit of love is evidenced by patience, produced on the branch that is in union with the vine Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the divine sap running through the vine into the branches that produces His fruit. Paul states in Colossians 1:11 that it is God who strengthens us in His power to have “all the endurance and patience we need.” We aren’t born with that. Patience is not a result of natural personality or strength of will. Patience, true spiritual patience that is peacefully expressed in everyday life on a consistent basis, is from God. True patience is a grace from the Holy Spirit.

(c.) Waiting. Patience is closely tied to waiting. “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” (Ps. 37:7); “I waited patiently for the Lord.” (Ps. 40:1); “The Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently…” (Romans 15:4). Contrary to popular opinion, waiting is not a passive verb, it is not a time to ulcerate, twiddle our thumbs, or simply bide our time. Waiting is an active verb. The biblical term for wait has a root that means to combine, to bind together by twisting, to entwine, to wrap tightly. Think of waiting as akin to twining rope or braiding hair. The patient waiter is one who, with focus and faith, braids together the scattered fragments and fragile strands of their lives into a unified durable strength. The waiter is one who weaves God into the powerless and frustrated elements of their lives to create a fused oneness, ready for anything. The waiter is one whose work and rest and laughter and tears and successes and failures are constantly blended with Jesus into a lifestyle of faith, hope and love. The faithful waiter is one who actively twists together all the facets of one’s life with God and His purposes, wrapping the Lord together with the concerns of the moment and the future. Active waiting involves hopeful readiness, patient trust, and unified focus. So let us patiently braid the Lord into our life, making the Lord one of the strands. Weave together Jesus with painful memories, and experience healing. Braid together God with present challenges, and find purpose and strength. Tie together the Lord with anxieties about the future, and live in hope. “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). One strand is the self; the central strand is the Lord; the third strand is whatever you are experiencing in your life… friends and enemies, school and career, difficulties and fulfillments, long lines and traffic jams. Patiently weave faith in, and the braid is unbreakable. Active waiting is patient braiding.

Final Word: “Clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.”  (Colossians 3:12)