Developing Patience

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25 NASB)

We have all kinds of excuses for why we are not patient people—stress, ill health, other peoples' mistakes, running late, or simply having a "bad day." But impatience can cause us to make poor decisions, hurt others, or damage relationships.

God wants something far better for us. He knows that patience helps us to stay in His will and in His favor. We achieve strong, loving, lasting relationships when we are willing to wait for others to change. In so doing, we will also become happier with ourselves.

How do we develop this attribute? First, we must view our lives as God does and recognize difficulties as opportunities in disguise to help us become patient. We must leave behind the mistaken thinking that success in the Christian life means an absence of problems. God's purpose is not to provide us with ease, comfort, and pleasure but rather to grow us up into Christlikeness. Patience is one of those "grown up" qualities He wants us to have.

Second, we have a personal responsibility to pursue the quality of patience and to train ourselves in it. We must learn to resist our bad habits, wrong thinking, and the way we have acted in the past. Practice responding with kindness and love, even if the other person is unjustly accusing you.

It takes time, energy, and effort to change our thinking and our responses. Happily, we do not do this alone. The Holy Spirit is committed to producing this fruit in our lives with our cooperation. What difficulty is confronting you today? See it as God does, and respond patiently.

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