The quality of bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain without complaint, loss of temper, irritation or the like.
An ability to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.
Quiet, steady perseverance
Good natured tolerance of delay or incompetence
Greek words used
hupomeno – Means to abide under or endure. This word is used for the proper Christian attitude towards trials, chastisement, or wrong treatment from others (1 Peter 2:20)
Makrothumia – This word is used quite often in the NT and denotes the idea of longsuffering. This is the “quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish; it is the opposite of anger and is associated with mercy, and is used of God. Patience is the quality that does not surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial, it is the opposite of despondency and is associated with hope.”
Why should we be patient?
We should be patient because God is patient. See:
2 Peter 3:8-9 The Lord is patient with the world and unbelievers so that everyone can come to repentance. God is patient with the whole world to give people time to repent.
Romans 2:4. It is the Lord’s patience and kindness that leads us to repentance. This patience isn’t only to the world as a whole, but was shown to each of us believers. God is holy and endured thousands of sins committed by each of us before and after we trusted in Him. But He didn’t just wipe us out as He could have done and we deserved. He continued to pull us to Himself. Some of us required a lot of pulling before we ever believed. From Philippians 1:6 we know that God will continue this work He began in us. Just as a potter making a pot needs a lot of patience so God forming and molding is patient. Isaiah 64:8. Remember also God’s patience with the Israelites. They sinned against Him again and again, rebelling against His commands and rule. Yet each time He was ready to forgive and save them. Our lives are sometimes like this as well. Luke 15, the prodigal son, is also a good example of God’s patience. As you can see many times patience is closely related to forgiveness.
1 Timothy 1:15-16 Jesus demonstrated His patience with Paul, who was the chief of sinners yet ultimately saved. God has been so patient with us we should be patient with others just like He has forgiven us so much we should forgive others and He has loved us so much we should love others.
Jesus is patient. Jesus was God in the flesh. He experienced the annoyances of sinners and mistakes firsthand. Time and again His disciples argued about who was the greatest. Time and again they couldn’t understand the simple teachings Jesus taught them. Time and again they forgot His miracles and power that He had just shown. Time and again they asked silly questions. Time and again they failed in many ways, but for more than three years Jesus’ patiently endured their ineptitude. He didn’t lash out at them. Neither did He ignore their problems. But He gently and kindly corrected their problems and continued to teach and train them. Mark 8:17-21.
Patience for God’s promises
What are some Biblical examples of people who showed amazing patience?
David waiting to be king. David was anointed king years before he actually assumed the throne. He could have justified going to take the kingdom himself. He had plenty of opportunities. Yet He waited for the Lord. He waited for God’s timing and God did bring it about.
Simeon waiting for the Messiah. Luke 2:25-35. In this case Simeon waited almost his entire life for God’s promise to be fulfilled to him.
Jericho. Joshua 6. In this case God promised they could conquer the city, but He made them walk around the city a total of 13 times first. I can imagine many of the Israelites were questioning why God would do that. They were wondering why God wouldn’t just knock down the walls and get it over with. After all, it was the same result either way. Why waste a week doing what could be done in minutes?
What can we learn from all of these things? God’s way is very often not the fastest way. God cares about the process, not only the result. In this world we are very results oriented. We want everything convenient and immediate. The world is at our fingertips with the internet. Stores make packaged meals to just stick in the microwave and warm up for dinner. We’ve got airplanes and rockets and cars. People take elevators to the 2nd floor and escalators to the gym. When God makes promises He will keep them, but He often doesn’t fulfill them immediately. Why does He make us wait? The process of waiting builds our faith and reliance on Him. It strengthens our character in innumerable ways. Proverbs 25:2. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings to search it out. On a practical level, God will give you just the perfect job for you. Be diligent to look for it, but don’t just jump in and take the first one if you aren’t sure it’s the right one. If God wants you to get married, He will provide the perfect one at the perfect time. Become the right kind of guy. Don’t just jump in and “get one” yourself because God hasn’t yet given you one. The result of not waiting for God will be disastrous. If God wants you to get a hamburger, He will provide one after you wait in line. Don’t just jump in and cut in front of everyone else! Remember that God has His perfect timing and look at the disastrous results of Abraham’s and Sarah’s impatience.
Patience when facing problems. Good natured tolerance when faced with delay. Quiet and steady, persevering. We need to be patient not only for God’s promises, but also when we face problems. In this life things will not always go smoothly. We all face problems. Problems with our computers, cell-phones, finances. Problems with our jobs. Delays waiting for the bus, paperwork errors at the office, and so on. The list goes on and on. These aren’t necessarily anyone’s fault. The world just isn’t a perfect place. How do we respond when we face those problems? For me, I often get irritated and upset. I get exasperated. Sometimes I start complaining. Sometimes I start blaming others and getting upset with people. I may start thinking how I ALWAYS have to wait a long time for the bus or how I HATE the traffic, etc. That is likely how all of us respond often. But how should we respond? Read and discuss the following verses.
In each of these cases self-control is encouraged. As believers we cannot allow the old man to reign over us in any area. We cannot let our sinful flesh to take control and rage in anger. We must rule our spirit. We need to have calm and quiet hearts. Remember that when God appeared to Elijah, He didn’t appear in the fire or earthquake or great wind, but with a still, quiet voice. Patience doesn’t mean that we have no will or desire. But it does require controlling it. Power under control. Robert Chapman said, “It is better to lose your purse than your temper.” Losing our temper does us no benefit. It will not fix our computer faster or make the bus get here any quicker. It only makes us miserable and the people around us miserable and if anything will slow us down from correcting the problem that we face.
Patience when persecuted. Now we will look at perhaps the most difficult kind of patience. This is basically longsuffering. This is showing patience towards other people, perhaps people who don’t have our good at heart. Someone might say it is easy to be patient for God because God loves us and has a good reason for us to wait. They may say too that it is easy to be patient when faced with problems because no one is at fault. But how about when there is some really annoying person next to us? How about when someone is annoying us on purpose? How about when someone’s silly mistakes cost us money or time? How do we respond? Unfortunately I am not a very patient person. Sometimes I have zero tolerance for mistakes. My natural reaction is to get angry and blame someone when they make a mistake. Sometimes as a kid when my brother annoyed me too much I would chase him and wrestle him to the ground to make him stop. Now I see that God wanted to teach me patience through him. What things will make you impatient with other people? First we are going to look over some verses encouraging us to be patient or extolling this quality and then we will look at some specific things we can do when others annoy us. Discuss each one individually.
Galatians 5:22 – Patience is a fruit of the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 13:4 – Love is patient. “It is easy finding reasons why other folks should be patient.” George Eliot
2 Timothy 2:24 – The servant of the Lord must be patient when wronged (not if wronged, but when wronged.)
1 Thessalonians 5:14 – Be patient with everyone.
Peter 2:20 – It is nothing to be patient when we deserve the “bad” that is happening to us, but it is real patience when we are patient in the midst of others’ maltreatment.
Ephesians 4:2 – Patience involves showing tolerance for one another in love.
Stephen is a good example of this. “The best testimony that Stephen bore was his last: not when preaching and working miracles, but when he pleaded for his persecutors; for then he most resembled the Lord Jesus in patience, forgiveness and love.” Chapman. How about any other examples of believers who showed this kind of patience? How about negative examples? Look below at a couple of ways we can respond when others annoy us.
Proverbs 19:11 – It is the glory of man to look over a transgression.
1 Peter 3:8-9 – Don’t return evil for evil, but give a blessing instead.
When others make mistakes and you are tempted to be impatient try to remember all of the mistakes that you have made that God has forgiven.
When you have to wait for the bus or other things try to remember how blessed you are to be able to ride a bus instead of walk.
When others annoy you try to remember to give a blessing and respond gently.
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