THE RARE AND REMARKABLE VIRTUE OF patience is within the and-so-forthsection in Galatians chapter 5. You know how we quote that passage . . . “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, and-so-forth.” That lazy habit has caused a very important series of virtues to escape our notice. Let’s read it together as a refresher:
The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Notice, please, the fourth on the list. Patience. The original Greek term unloads a lot of meaning upon us. Makrothumia is the term, and it’s a compound word. Makros means “long or far,” and thumos means “passion, anger, or wrath.” Putting it together, we come up with “long-anger.” You’ve heard the English expression, “short-tempered”? Well, I suppose we could coin an expression for patience—long-tempered—and not miss the accurate meaning very far.
So many Christians express frustration over their repeated failure to display this all-important virtue. But the key is in the beginning of the verse. Did you see it? The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives. That’s it! You cannot muster patience—it, along with all the other fruits mentioned, is formed within us by the Spirit of God. He makes it happen.
James offers a helpful description of the patience-forming process:
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy [one fruit!]. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance [that’s patience!] has a chance to grow. So let it grow [that’s the Spirit forming!], for when your endurance [patience!] is fully developed [Spirit work!], you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Facing trouble today? Maybe a long struggle with uncertainty, or confronting a seemingly impossible obstacle in your life? The Spirit is at work, forming patience in you. Don’t resist it . . . embrace it! Let Him lengthen your temper. You can’t, but He can.