The Most Neglected Virtue

Neal Pollard  

The lack of utilizing this "virtue" seems to have plagued Jonah, Peter, the apostle John, and other great servants of God.  It is perhaps one of the character traits we think about the least.  The quality is "patience."  Many of us automatically assume we have it or maybe never even think about it with reference to ourselves.  We all desire others, and especially God, to show it to us, but we often have an extremely difficult time showing it to others (and especially God).  

  Have you ever found yourself livid at the slow or inattentive driver whose ineptness drives you crazy?  Or your children just keep getting under your skin?  The people you work with, for, or over cannot seem to get it right and are ruining your life?  Your mate is not responding in the time or manner you think more than reasonable, and it is grating on you?  The church is not moving at the right pace or making the wisest choices, in your important opinion?  Things in general are not going the way you want them?  

  All of these situations and many more like them are trials of our patience.  They are not insignificant.  When we fail the patience test(s), we are effecting our character and influence.  The Bible does not make the matter of possessing patience either optional or unimportant.  It matters greatly, even eternally.  

  Patience is part of the fruit of the Spirit, as much faithfulness and love (cf. Gal. 5:22-23). You are spiritually improperly clothed unless you "clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you..." (Col. 3:12-13).  True, biblical love is defined, in part, as being patient (1 Cor. 13:4).   You cannot live the worthy life required of a Christian without patience (Eph. 4:1-2).   Underscore the fact that you are going to have a difficult time truly being a good and faithful Christian without patience.  

  So, what can you do if you recognize yourself as having a "patience problem."  First, recognize it.  We are to examine ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5).  Take the time to honestly evaluate your dealings with others and perhaps even take the courage to ask the opinion of those who know you best.  Second, think to include the need for patience in your prayer life.  Ask God to help you practice patience.  This is the same as praying for Christian growth.  Third, actively attempt to put patience into practice, especially in those areas or in those relationships where you have evaluated that your's is thinnest.

   Patience is a virtue.  It is a powerful _expression of self-control and maturity.  It is also an area in which the great majority of us could stand to grow.  Be patient with your own progress.  Be patient with the world.  Be patient with your physical and spiritual families.  Read James 5:7-11 and drink in the impact and importance of patience.  Only God knows the good such growth will do for you and those who know you