“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances may be.” (Philippians 4:11)
Patience is part of Paul’s prescription for peace in Philippians. Throughout the history of the church, patience has always been considered a great virtue by 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 the Spirit manifests in us is through 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 and grow our faith like waiting. When we think God is not responding to our prayers, it may be that what God is doing in us while we are waiting – like growing the virtue of patience in us – is more important than that for which we are waiting.
In our relationships with people, patience can 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 the life of Jesus Christ in us.
While impatience is a “peace thief,” vertical and horizontal patience are supernatural, God-given virtues that maintain the peace of God in our lives.
Dick Woodward, 09 June 2009