Introduction: Galatians 5:22 tells us that another fruit of the
Spirit is patience. I have lots of things to do and I do not like to
waste my time unless the goal of my activity is to relax and “waste”
time. How about you? Do you see pointless wasting of your time as a
gift from God? What if I told you that “longsuffering” is another
way to translate this word patience. Do you want to be suffering?
While I was doing more research on what the Bible really meant by
“patience,” what I found were texts on endurance. The New Bible
Dictionary defines patience as “restraint in the face of opposition
or oppression.” That sounds like a cross between suffering and
endurance, rather than wasting time. Let’s plunge into our study of
the Bible and learn more about God has in mind with the gift of

  1. God and Patience

    1. Read Exodus 34:5-7. Is being “slow to anger” a form of
      patience? (The Interlinear Bible reveals that the Hebrew
      words mean “longsuffering.” Thus, what God is saying
      about Himself is very much like the “patience” described
      as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22.)

      1. Something very important is being said in Exodus
        34:6. Notice that when God describes Himself, “slow
        to anger” is the third term He uses, and He places
        it before love. Is being slow to anger more
        important than love?

      2. As you consider the context, in what way is God slow
        to anger? In what way is He patient? (All of these
        descriptions seem to be in the context of dealing
        with humans about our sin problem. Thus, slow to
        anger means slow to anger about our sins.)

        1. What do you see as a benefit in that? (If we
          are talking about my sins (as opposed to
          yours), then I appreciate God not disciplining
          me (or destroying me) right away. Giving me a
          break is something I greatly appreciate.)

      3. Frankly, I was less concerned about God giving you a
        break about your sins. If God shows patience towards
        your sins, am I also required to show patience
        towards your sins?

        1. Should I consider it a virtue to be
          longsuffering (suffer long!)because of your
          sins towards me?

      4. We all understand why we want God to show some
        patience with us when we sin. But, why should He?
        What point is served by waiting? (If we look at our
        Exodus text, what follows from sin is punishment.
        Therefore, it seems that God is patient in the hope
        that we will turn from our sins and escape

      5. Read Joel 2:13 and 2 Peter 3:8-9. Why do Joel and
        Peter suggest that we should turn from our sins?
        (The idea is that God is not waiting to “chop our
        head off.” He is not rubbing His hands together with
        glee waiting to destroy us. Quite the opposite, God
        is giving us time to turn to Him by repenting and
        escaping punishment. God is taking His time in the
        hope you will turn to him.)

  2. You and Patience

    1. God is patient with us. Great! So, what reason do we have
      to be patient with others? (Read Matthew 18:32-33. If you
      do not know this story, read Matthew 18:23-35. On a very
      basic level, if God shows patience to us to allow us to
      turn from our sins, then we have an obligation to give
      that same opportunity to others.)

      1. Think about this for a minute. What kinds of sins
        has God forgiven you? Compare your sins with the
        sins of those who test your patience?

      2. Does this requirement apply to parents in dealing
        with their children? With children in dealing with
        their parents?

    2. Read Romans 15:5. What reason does this text give us for
      being patient (showing endurance) with our fellow
      Christians? (Unity. Being longsuffering helps to promote

      1. Have you ever met someone who is determined to point
        out the sins of others?

      2. How do you like it when fellow church members point
        out your sins? (The exercise of judgment is called
        for, but the clear direction is that our God shows
        patience (endurance) towards us and we need to show
        that same patience to our fellow church members. An
        attitude of patience promotes unity in the church.)

    3. Read Ephesians 4:1-3. Paul reinforces what we just
      learned: that our goal of unity in the church is promoted
      by being patient and “bearing with one another in love.”
      However, Paul adds a new idea. He writes of being humble
      and gentle. What do humility and gentleness have to do
      with patience?

      1. How many Christians “correct” another member of the
        church because of pride and a lack of gentleness?

      2. Think about the last time when you heard a member
        (as opposed to the pastor or a duly elected church
        official) rebuke another member? Was it over a
        disputable issue on which the “rebuker” (due to
        pride) was sure he or she was right?

    4. Read Romans 14:1-4. What opportunities do we find here
      for condemning another church member? (First, the
      vegetarian (the one who wanted to avoid eating meat
      offered to pagan idols) should not condemn those who do
      not see the issue in the same way. Second, those who
      think the vegetarians are being silly, should not condemn

      1. What?! No standards? What about upholding the
        standards? (Notice the topic is “disputable
        matters.” However, be sure that your pride has not
        transformed a disputable matter into a standard.)

      2. How does Paul suggest that we should handle these
        kinds of debates about disputable issues? (Read
        Romans 14:22-23. We should keep these things to
        ourselves. We should show patience, instead
        condemnation, towards those who do not believe as we
        do. At the same time, if we believe something is
        sin, we need to follow our conscience.)

  3. Character and Patience

    1. Read James 1:2-4. The New International Version
      translates the last word of verse 3 as “perseverance.”
      Other translations read “patience,” “steadfastness” or
      “endurance.” This is another aspect of patience. As you
      look at the context, what kind of patience is described?
      (The ability to look forward in faith when we are going
      through trials.)

      1. James tells us that this makes our faith “mature and
        complete.” How is this the product of patience?
        (When we go through something unpleasant, if we
        trust God, and He sees us through it, this gives us
        confidence when the next temptation or trial comes.
        We look back on what God has done in the past and we
        have confidence that He will be there to help again.
        This kind of faith gives us a mature attitude.)

    2. Let’s look at how we should apply these spiritual lessons
      to the realities of your life. When you are driving a car
      are you patient? Should you be? Or, are these other
      drivers just wasting your time and no spiritual issues
      are involved?

      1. What are the reasons why other drivers are holding
        you up? (A driver who just stays in the passing
        lane, not passing, but holding me up, is either
        selfish, inconsiderate or ignorant of the rules of
        the road. This sounds a lot like sin. Indeed I’m
        sure it must be sin!)

        1. What kind of attitude did we decide that we
          should have towards other sinners? (Since God
          is patient with us in dealing with our sins, we
          should be patient with others.)

    3. What about your job? Are you impatient for promotion? Do
      you feel that you should have been given more
      responsibility, more money and more authority?

      1. Look again at James 1:3-4. Does this text provide
        any helpful advice about promotion? (It suggests
        that perhaps we are not ready for promotion right
        now, and that patience in our present position will
        improve our skills and help us to be mature and

    4. What about patience while waiting in line? Is waiting in
      line a pure waste of time? (Here is a secret so that you
      will never have to waste time waiting in line again – use
      the time to pray and contemplate God’s will for your
      life. I suspect that most people do not spend enough time
      in prayer. You can trade this wasted and otherwise
      frustrating time into productive time with God.)

    5. What about patience in waiting for Jesus to return and
      take us to heaven? (Read Matthew 24:45-46. Jesus tells us
      that we should fill the time waiting for Him by doing the
      jobs He has given us. If we focus on the task, instead of
      the wait, it will not seem like we are waiting.)

    6. Friend, do you feel impatient? Why not resolve to do
      this: fill your waiting time with productive work. Be
      generous when it comes to the slowness of others because
      God has been generous to you in your slowness in doing
      His will. Will you decide today to seek the help of the
      Holy Spirit to be more patient?

  4. Next week: The Fruit of the Spirit is Kindnesss.