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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Fifty-Fifth (Patience)

In my opinion, one of the most challenging fruits of the spirit we are to grow is patience. Sometimes it's hard when we find ourselves in certain scenarios to take a step back and restore our patience. Whether it's a drive to work in traffic or a computer that's taking too long to "think," it can be difficult to take that deep breath and slow down or wait. Patience occurs in 33 verses of the KJV (interesting number...). What's also interesting is what those verses say about it.

When I take a look at word usage in the New Testament, I usually start with the book of James. This is because in most of the timelines I've seen discussing when the New Testament books were written show this as the first one. I think the Holy Spirit influenced writings in a certain order for a reason, and so my thought is why not go to the first one!

In James, for a relatively short book, there are a lot of verses that talk about patience. The very first one (James 1:3) talks about trials of faith building our patience, and this is an interesting concept to think about. Backing up to verse 2, we see Iakobos was talking about temptations that we face, and linking those tests to our faith. Why do you think he did that? If I'm in a class and I'm taking a two hour final exam, does that involve my faith? Does it make a difference if I didn't prepare? If I'm walking down the street and there's a Lamborghini with it's door open and the keys inside and I'm tempted to drive off with it, does that involve my faith? Does it make a difference if I'm a homeless man with no money?

My answer to both those scenarios is yes, but your answer may be different. My answer is that everything involves faith in some way. Whether it's faith that Yehovah will protect you as you drive to work, or that He will help you remember what the chemical formula for glucose is because that's a question on an exam, faith should be something active in our lives. It shouldn't be an afterthought.

When you think about it that way, it makes sense that tests of faith build our patience. His thoughts and the way He does things is higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). And a day is as a thousand years to Him (Psalm 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8), so we might not get what He gives us when we think we need it. Not to mention, we might not get what we expect! Are we even supposed to be taking that exam in His plan for us? Are we supposed to be in that class getting that certificate or degree? Or did we decide to do that instead of listening to Him? Perhaps we weren't patient enough to wait for His lead!

The other place Iakobos talks about patience is in chapter 5, so patience is such a priority to the Holy Spirit that He bookended Iakobos' letter with it (chapter 1 and 5). In this case He includes it as a reminder to be patient for the coming of Jesus, and through the affliction we may endure.

The next book written that contains the word patience is 1 Thessalonians. And wouldn't you know it, patience and faith are hand in hand again (1 Thessalonians 1:3,4). Seems like He's trying to tell us something! When we look at the majority of all these verses, they talk about faith in Jesus' return and patience to wait for it.

Interestingly, when we jump over to Romans 5, we again are reminded that tribulation builds patience. However, this time there is a follow on description of the progression of transformation following patience. In verse 4, we see that patience built by tribulation develops into character, and that character builds to hope. So now, we know by building this patience we can build our hope in Him and His promise.

So next time there's a computer that won't open your email, or traffic that delays your travels, remember we can either go down the path of building character and hope through patience or we can give in to impatience. Take the path of patience!

Shabbat Shalom! God bless you and have a great week!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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