In this fast-paced world, patience is a virtue that everyone can benefit from having more of. Not surprisingly, The Bible has a lot to say on the topic. In this article, I’ll share 5 biblical lessons on patience.
The biblical lessons on patience are:
- Patience Is Required To Reap Your Rewards
- Don’t Use Patience As An Excuse Not To Act
- Be Patient When Going Through Trials
- Be Patient With God
- Be Patient with Others
Patience Is Required To Reap Rewards
The first lesson we can learn from The Bible about patience is that it’s required to reap rewards. Galatians 6:9 says “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (NIV). This verse indicates that there is a proper time to reap, but often we lack the patience necessary to get there.
I get it. Whenever we do something, we don’t want to patiently wait for the reward. We want to experience the benefits immediately. It’s the problem of instant gratification – the experience of satisfaction or receipt of reward as soon as a response is made (dictionary.apa.org).
In life, however, some of the greatest rewards we can get don’t come immediately after doing the work. We have to be patient in order to get the results. If you plant a seed but keep uprooting it to check if it’s growing you’ll never get the reward of a tree.
Don’t Give Up Too Quickly
With that said, don’t give up so quickly because you aren’t seeing the results of your work. As The Bible says in Galatians 6:9, there is a proper time to reap the harvest, but we only reap it if we are patient, not giving up too quickly.
Patience Is Required To Receive Heavenly Rewards
Perhaps the ultimate area in which we must be patient in order to reap rewards is in our service in this life for the rewards in the next. You may be in a place where you are constantly serving in ministry and while you get some sense of joy from time to time it could feel like you’re not gaining anything from your hard work.
The things we do for God give the ultimate reward, but that great reward comes later. After patiently enduring all types of persecution for the name of Christ, at the end of his ministry Paul said:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.2 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV
Like Paul’s reward, there are rewards in store for us who keep the faith.
To learn more about heavenly rewards, see my article How To Get Rewards In Heaven.
Don’t Use Patience As An Excuse Not To Act
The next lesson we can learn about patience from The Bible is to not use it as an excuse not to act. Have you ever heard someone say or have you said yourself “I’m waiting on God”? While it’s sometimes necessary to wait on God, The Bible indicates it may be us that need to act.
Waiting For A Sign
There is a popular story about a man stuck out to sea waiting for God to save him. 3 boats passed him and offered to help him but he said “no thanks, I’m waiting on God to save me”. Eventually, he died and in heaven, he asked God why didn’t He save him. God told him I tried. I sent 3 boats your way!
We can find ourselves in life waiting for God in order to take the next step. We say we’re being patient when in reality it’s us that needs to move. Like the guy stuck out to sea, we may have a specific expectation of how God is going to work things out and so we ignore the sign he places right before us.
Naaman, for example, almost didn’t get healed because he expected the prophet to do it in a certain way. Only after being convinced by his servant to obey the instruction that he did. So if you’re being led to go in a certain direction, even though it doesn’t fit your expectations, remember it may be God showing you the next step. Don’t continue to wait on God when he is waiting on you.
Learn more about Naaman and how he almost missed his healing in my article 3 Lessons From The Story of Naaman.
Patiently Waiting When You Have The Power
There are also areas in life in which we have the power to act but we think it’s up to God. In such instances, we may say we’re patiently waiting on God when it’s something he already gave us the ability to do.
It’s like patiently waiting to be blessed with money when God has given us the ability to produce wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18 NIV) or patiently waiting for God to heal us when we just need to eat healthier.
While stuck between the red sea and Pharaoh’s army, Moses told the fearful Israelites “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:13-14 NIV).
Moses was telling them to patiently wait, but in actuality, God had already given him the power to deliver the Israelites. Exodus 14:15-16 says ‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground (NIV).
Be Patient When Going Through Trials
Another lesson we can learn about Patience in The Bible is to be patient when going through trials. Romans 12:12 says “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying” (NLT). We all experience trials in life and while they aren’t pleasant, The Bible teaches us to patiently endure through them. But why should we?
Trials Build Character
Patience is required to endure through trials and The Bible says “endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation” (Romans 5:4 NIV). Being patient through trials helps us to become better people. Each time we patiently endure through a trial it helps us to become more patient in general.
This is why James 1:2-3 says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:3 NIV).
To learn more about patiently facing trials with joy, see my article 4 Lessons From James 1: Trials and Temptations.
Be Patient Like Job
When speaking of patiently enduring trials, it’s hard not to mention Job. As you probably know, Job experienced a lot of trials. He lost his animals and children at no fault of his own yet he didn’t curse God as his wife told him to do.
In John 16:33 Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble”. So since we can’t avoid it, the best we can do is patiently endure through them becoming stronger with each one.
Be Patient With God
Being patient with God is another patience-related lesson from The Bible. In an earlier lesson, I mentioned that at times we can be waiting on God when it’s actually us that need to make a move. But in some cases, we must be patient and wait on God. Sometimes we don’t have a choice and other times we mess things up if we don’t.
Patiently Waiting On God’s Justice
There are some things that God says he will handle and so we shouldn’t do them because we aren’t patient with him. Take Justice for example. The Bible says ‘Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord’ (Romans 12:19 NIV).
But when we see the wicked seemingly get away with wrongdoing against us or our loved ones we may feel like God isn’t acting fast enough. In such cases, we are to be patient with God because he tells us not to take revenge as it is his to avenge.
Patiently Wait On God When You Don’t Have A Choice
In some cases, we don’t have a choice but to wait on God. In these situations, we might as well be patient and not worry since worrying will only make us worse. A good example is Abraham and God’s promise to give him many descendants. He had no power to make Sarah conceive so he had no choice but to wait on God. The Bible then says “And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised” (Hebrews 6:15 NIV).
I wrote about Abraham and the lessons we can learn from him in 5 Life Lessons From The Story of Abraham.
Be Patient With God Because He Has His Reasons
Based on our own understanding we may think God isn’t moving fast enough. God’s wisdom far surpasses ours and we should patiently trust him when it comes to his promises. A good example concerns his return. In regards to it The Bible says:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.2 Peter 3:9 NIV
Just like this verse shows He has a purpose for not returning as yet, God has a purpose for everything else He does. So be patient and “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV).
Be Patient With People
The last lesson about patience we’ll look at from The Bible is to be patient with people. 1 Corinthians 13:4 describes love as patient and the second greatest command The Bible gives us is to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31 NIV). These two scriptures combined indicate that we should be patient with others.
We Once Needed Others To Be Patient With Us
To be more patient with others, we must remember that we once needed others to be patient with us. After overcoming a struggle, we easily forget that we once didn’t have it figured out and often lack patience with people struggling in the area we struggled with.
For example, as a youth director, I found myself getting impatient with the teenagers because they didn’t want to listen, forgot what I taught them, and didn’t show any signs of change. But when I stopped to think about it, as a teenager I was the same way. It took time, long after youth group meetings for me to get on the right track. So I just needed to be patient with them as others were patient with me.
Be Patient With People Because God Is Patient With You
If not for any other reason, The Bible teaches that we should be patient with others because God is patient with us. In regards to showing patience through forgiveness, The Bible says “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13 NIV). Remember this the next time you become impatient with others.
In conclusion, The bible teaches us that we should be patient. Whether it’s while we are going through trials, dealing with people, or waiting on God, patience is the characteristic we all should exhibit. Additionally, remember that patience is necessary to get worthwhile rewards in this life and the next and it shouldn’t be used as an excuse not to act.