If you are like me, you may need a more radical way of looking at patience. When I first pondered this troublesome word (troublesome to me because I could not master it), I was led to the Fruit of the Spirit in which patience is one of nine virtues that reflect a follower of Christ. They are all excellent virtues which I really want to have. I dwelt on the fact that they were described as fruit. To me fruit is a by-product of a tree or vine. Think about it… how does fruit grow? It doesn’t just pop out on a branch, does it? We don’t get instant apples, or groves of grapes. Fruit grows and is nourished from the vine it is connected to. In John chapter 15 Jesus calls himself the vine and he talks about how to get this fruit: “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
Fruit cannot make itself because the vine is what produces the fruit. This got me thinking about patience being a by-product of something, or rather something that develops from an attribute of Jesus (the Vine) rather than our own efforts (waiting). In fact, I believe each Fruit of the Spirit has a divine attribute of God that gives it life, is responsible for the formation of the bud and the continuation of its growth through constant nourishment (remain in me).
Jesus has shown me that what we really are searching for are the attributes of God, instead of figuring out ways to produce our own fruit. When we adopt the attributes of God as virtues they make producing fruit easier! Granted, God’s attributes are vast beyond measure, but when we know what they are we can pray for and practice them in order to produce better fruit.
Let’s get back to patience. Waiting ≠ Patience, the divine attribute of HUMILITY =
PATIENCE. Since God is humble we can obtain patience: From a lowly manger birth to a borrowed tomb, the human life of Jesus exemplified humility. True humility is an accurate understanding of who we are in relation to God. It is realizing you are not omnipotent and that you have limits. Humility doesn’t think less of ourselves; it thinks more of others.
While God loves us for who we are, we don’t necessarily love others the same way. Especially when we are behind someone who is unskilled at using an ATM machine. Don’t we want everyone to move as fast as or even faster than us? Don’t we want them to have prices on all their groceries when they check out so that we don’t have to wait for a price check? From waiting in line to relationships that get out of line, our patience gets tested at every turn. If we’re honest we expect others to be as capable as or even more capable than we are. The ugly truth is that impatience rears its ugly head when we elevate our own needs above someone else’s.
Patience is an expression of humility which is the antidote to impatience. Humility puts aside our ego and says that I am especially loved by God… along with everyone else! When you are mature in humility, patience no longer becomes a waiting game, but rather the reflected virtue of our humble Savior. Praying for and practicing HUMILITY will give you more patience. It transforms “Mirror Vision” to “Window Vision”. Remaining in Jesus helps develop humility so that you can see beyond yourself. When you realize that we are all flawed, fallen and forgiven it reminds you how deeply loved we all are. The love that fuels humility helps us think of others first, it attempts to understand others and it makes no demands of others. This love is strong enough to remove the impatience in our wait and extends grace in its place. I encourage you not to wait for patience anymore. Instead, live patiently because humility has found a comfortable home in your spirit.