Links Daily Devotional

Stop Praying for Patience

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience…. (Ephesians 4:1-2a, NASB)

In interviews with leaders about their game plan for the final round of a tournament (especially if it is a major), you will often hear them say they just have to “be patient.” What does that mean?

Based on context, most of these golfers are defining “patient” as “not hasty.” They want to wait for the right opportunities. But how long can you wait when there are only 18 holes left? Still, waiting is a form of patience, as we acknowledge in the old joke, “Lord, give me patience, and give it to me now!

But the primary meaning of patience, especially in the Bible, is a bit darker than merely waiting. It is the capacity to suffer without getting angry or upset. This is the patience spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13 (“love is patient”) and James 5:7 (“be patient… until the coming of the Lord”).

Suffering can happen on a golf course. We know that Zach Johnson outlasted the slopes and mounds and penal bunkers at St. Andrews, as well as his own mistakes and shortcomings, partly (or maybe wholly!) because he was busy reciting Psalm 27:14 throughout his final round: “Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.”

Sometimes my own play on a much easier course causes me suffering and requires patience of the long-suffering kind. All of us, especially golfers, need patience.

So why do I say in the title to stop praying for patience? Because if you are a follower of Jesus, you already have it.

The well-known passage in Galatians that lists “the fruit of the Spirit” includes patience (see Galatians 5:22-23.) I take those verses to mean that with God’s Spirit living in us, we will behave with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Just as a healthy apple tree produces apples, so the Holy Spirit produces this fruit in us and our actions show it.

So we do not need to pray for the gift of patience; we need to use the gift of patience we have. That is what Paul means in the verse above when he says to walk in a manner worthy of our calling.

The golfers who say they need to “be patient” have it right because golf, especially under pressure, requires the capacity to suffer without getting angry or upset. Life is like that, too. Fortunately, with the Spirit, patience is yours to use.

Lewis Greer
July 28, 2015
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