Patience is so difficult. There are things we have no choice but to wait for and there are things we should wait for but choose not to. Either way, waiting is difficult. Waiting patiently is a virtue that extols the Lord. We have two factors that allow us to be patient. The Holy Spirit in us and hope. The hope that keeps believers able to be patient is knowing that this earth and its suffering is temporary. One day, Jesus will return and gather the harvest. Believers know that for us the harvest means eternity united perfectly with Christ, our Maker and Husband. We wait for that awesome day with The Holy Spirit making us over and conforming us to the image of Christ who is the epitome of patience. Verses 7-8 read,
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Establishing our hearts means we allow The Holy Spirit to conform us. Through every trial and circumstance we get to practice, exercise, and strengthen the character of Christ in us through the demonstration of The Holy Spirit in us. We call that the Fruit of the Spirit and patience is one of the proofs that He is living in us (Galatians 5:22-23). Just as that fruit does not pop out fully developed in us instantaneously, neither does farmer’s fruit grow and flower overnight. A farmer can pick fruit too soon. If he does the fruit will not develop its full flavor. When he does harvest his fruit, he needs to have waited long enough for the fruit to go to seed, to have developed seeds that will be able to produce the next crop. Reaping before it is time will give the farmer gratification now but the fruit won’t be as good or healthy as it could be and he won’t have a crop for next year.
Patience is also called endurance, perseverance, forbearance, and longsuffering. It looks like serenity, stamina, and resilience. Waiting is just not a good time sometimes. If you are hungry now, yet you have to wait for the late rains to come before you pick the fruit, you need forbearance. If you are hungry now, yet supper won’t be cooked for 1 more hour, that hour may be a long one. Impatience leads a person to eat now and not be able to fully enjoy supper when it is ready. Eating the fruit, before it is ripe, and at the point where it will offer its most perfect benefits deprives us of the complete enjoyment and reward we could have had. Impatience leads to impetuosity, rashness, and anxiety. The word longsuffering indicates that it is no fun to endure suffering. If I am hungry, I am irritable. Choosing to gratify my flesh instead of demonstrate The Holy Spirit can make me complain, whine, and grumble. It can cause me to become envious and bitter. That is bad news for me and for the people around me. I will not look or act like Jesus when I’m indulging my own desires and glorifying myself. Verses 9-11 read,
Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
Impatience leads to satisfying our flesh and that produces what Paul called the works of the flesh. Galatians 5:16-21 describe it this way.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
People gratifying the desires of the flesh will be judging, and it will not be righteous judgement. People gratifying the desires of the flesh will be jealous envious, and angry causing rivalries, dissension, and division. But we are supposed to be the image of Christ, The Judge who stands at the door. Was anyone as patient as Jesus? Is anyone as patient as He is? He stands at the door and knocks, waiting patiently for us to answer and enjoy the riches and blessings he wants to lavish on us. In Revelation 3:18-21 Jesus said,
“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”
Wouldn’t you rather have the fullness of what God is offering than the paleness of what you can achieve without Him? He is patient with you. He is patient with the world. He doesn’t smite people into following Him. He doesn’t force us. He knocks and waits. He is patient. 2 Peter 3:7-10 describes God’s patience this way.
But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Time is different for God. He has waited an eternity already for His harvest to be ready. At the perfect time, not a moment too soon He will reap His harvest. Revelation 14:14-20 describes it and I have to say, I am extraordinarily thankful that He is waiting. There are people I want to be with me in New Jerusalem and they haven’t chosen Life in Jesus yet.
Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.”16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.
17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse's bridle, for 1,600 stadia.
If Jesus is patient with us, we have no right to be impatient with anyone, including ourselves. Consider the example of patience James described for us in verse 11.
Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
How do we know Job was patient? Why do we consider the other examples of patience as patient? Because they endured suffering. Job refused to curse God in his anguish. He never acted out in the desperation he may have felt. Desperation can make us act rashly. It can make people try and manipulate The Lord into giving them what they “need” or want now. People will say, “If you heal me, I promise I’ll never complain again!” They will make deals with people who seem to be offering what they need and distraughtly and injudiciously swear to do hold up bargains that they never should. They ‘make deals with the devil’ to get what they want now instead of waiting for God to give them what is better and perfect. Verse 12 warns us against making those desperate vows. We are expected to keep our promises, because God keeps His.
But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.
When that person swore she would never complain again if only she would be healed. Satan is only too happy to oblige her (although it will be partial and imperfect), because he knows that she will break her vow and complain. He’ll make sure of it because he will give her every reason to complain. Her witness will be destroyed, she will be ineffectual all because she had to be impatient about waiting for God to heal her in His perfect timing.
Believer, Patience is not called longsuffering because it is short and sweet. It is difficult to practice and difficult to master. But you have The Holy Spirit in you. You have faith, hope in the unseen and eternal (Hebrews 11:1). Be patient. Wait for God’s time and don’t rush Him. What He has at that perfect time is so much better than what you can get right now.