Applying the Character Quality of Patience

Patience vs. Restlessness

4 min

Patience is welcoming trials and tribulations as friends and allowing them to perfect our character.

One primary Greek word is translated as patience. Hupomone, which comes from hupomeno, whose root words (hupo and meno) mean “under” and “to remain, abide,” respectively. Hupomone means “cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy. Hupomeno means “to stay under (behind), i.e. remain; fig. to undergo, i.e. to bear (trials), have fortitude, persevere.”

The Greek word makrothumia also translated as patience, means “longanimity, i.e. (obj.) forbearance, or (subj.) fortitude.” By faith and patience [makrothumia], we inherit the promises of God. (See Hebrews 6:12.)

Why Patience Is Necessary

  • To produce a good harvest
    “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15).
  • To seek after glory and honor
    “To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life” (Romans 2:7).
  • To be approved for ministry
    “But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses” (II Corinthians 6:4).
  • To prepare for Christ’s return
    “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ” (II Thessalonians 3:5). “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:8).
  • To run a good race
    “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

How Patience Is Developed

Patience comes when we properly respond to trials and tribulations. Paul wrote: “We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope” (Romans 5:3–4).

In order to “glory” in tribulations, we must thank God for them and rejoice in the benefits that He designed them to produce in our lives. The end result of glorying in tribulations is that we experience the power of God’s love through the power of His Holy Spirit. “Hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).

In order to “glory” in tribulations, we must thank God for them and rejoice in the benefits that He designed them to produce in our lives.

Paul affirmed this in his letter to the Corinthian believers when he wrote about his thorn in the flesh: “And he [the Lord] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (II Corinthians 12:9–10).

The development of patience through tribulations was also confirmed by James: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2–4).

One Greek word for perfect is teleios. It means “complete” in various applications of labor, growth, and mental and moral character.

Tribulation Is Necessary for Patience

Scripture identifies Job as an example of patience. “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:11).

The trials Job endured were terrible disasters. (See Job 1:13–22.) Yet his response reveals the purifying and perfecting that patience in trials can produce in a believer’s life.

After learning that all his herds and flocks had been stolen or killed, all but three of his herdsmen had been killed, and his seven sons and three daughters had died, Job “arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshiped. And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:20–21). After Job endured these trials, God blessed him more than before and gave him twice as many flocks and herds as he had lost. (See Job 42:12.)

The Rewards of Patience

  • Seeing God answer our cries
    “I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1).
  • Having hope in the Lord
    “… That we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
  • Being renewed with strength
    “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (Psalm 27:14).
  • Inheriting God’s promises
    “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. … And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise” (Hebrews 6:12, 15).
  • Becoming a mature believer
    “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:4).

Personal Evaluation

  • Do you realize that the final results of life’s situations are in God’s hands?
  • Do you use waiting on others as an opportunity to learn to wait on God?
  • Do you wait for God to answer your prayers in His timing?
  • Do you look to the face of God while waiting for provisions from His hand?
  • Do you patiently instruct those for whom you are responsible?
  • Do you rejoice in trials instead of becoming bitter?
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