“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances may be.” (Philippians 4:11)
Paul prescribes patience as part of his prescription for peace. Throughout the history of the church, patience has always been considered a great virtue by the spiritual heavyweights. Why is patience such an important virtue? For starters, patience is one of the nine fruit of the Spirit we find listed in the fifth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. When the Holy Spirit lives in us, one of the ways He wants to express Himself through us is a supernatural quality of patience.
In the Bible we are continuously exhorted to “Wait on the Lord.” In our relationship with God we might call patience “faith waiting.” Nothing will test or grow our faith like waiting. When we think God is not responding to our prayers it may be that what He is doing in us while we are waiting – like growing in us the virtue of patience – is more important than what we’re waiting for.
In our relationships with people, patience could be called, “love waiting.” I have found that the Lord wants to grow two dimensions of patience in us: He wants to grow “vertical patience” in us by teaching us to have a faith that waits. And He is growing “horizontal patience” in us by teaching us that in relationships, love waits. Love is the first and primary virtue through which the Holy Spirit wants to express Himself through us.
While impatience is a “peace thief,” vertical and horizontal patience are supernatural, God-given virtues that can produce spiritual heavyweights – and maintain the peace of God in our experience of life.