The Fruits: Patience and Faithfulness

Patience. Faithfulness. Patience and faithfulness both have their roots in the concept of “loyalty.” A patience person waits for another out of respect; a faithful person is dutiful until the end. Waiting, trusting, and faith all require us to give up our own desire for “instant gratification” in favor of God’s timing and the needs of others. Since our world is going a mile a minute, practicing patience with God and each other seems next to impossible; but with the Lord nothing is impossible.

Even with a casual familiarity with the Old Testament, you can tell the people of God go through wild ups and downs. They are terrible and sinful one chapter, then the next they repent, until they become sinful again. The cycle repeats. During all this, God is incredibly faithful! Because of the covenant with Abraham, God signed up for the long haul with this nation. No matter how bad they got, God kept remaining faithful. God kept patiently waiting form to become faithful again—while sometimes prodding them for extra help (See 2 Peter 3:9). These are defining characteristics of God.

However, patience and faithfulness are not defining characteristics of us humans. We are very bad at waiting faithfully for anything, though especially God. This explains why there are so many reminders in Scripture for us to wait for God. David writes, for instance, in Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Isaiah roots our patience in God’s patience: “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him” (Is. 30:18).

In the New Testament, the concern about patiently waiting is centered on waiting for the return of Christ. We are to hold on even when suffering overtakes us. We wait patiently because God is going to do what God does best: save the day. James 5:7-11 reminds us to be patient for the coming of the Lord, just like Old Testament figures like Job were patient. But we must be “patient” and “ready.” Being faithful means we get our lives in order because Jesus is coming. Jesus uses the image in Luke 12 of servants waiting with lamps for their master to return from a late-night feast. Patience is an active virtue. It requires us to put off complaining and focus on our wants and instead preparing our souls for the end that is coming soon.

Finally, we display these two virtues to others. Christians should reflect God’s patience and learn to be faithful to others. Paul in Ephesians 4:2-3 urges us to live “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Also, as 1 Corinthians 13:4 reminds, “Love is patient,” so for us to truly love others like we are commanded we must give each other grace—even if others don’t deserve it. Loving others actively requires waiting and not forcing someone to meet our standards all the time. Because God is patient and faithful with us, we should be patient and faithful with others.

Discussion Questions

  • Why activities make it hard for your to be patient?
  • Why do some people have a hard time trusting God?
  • How would the world change if Christians approached life with patience and faithfulness?
  • How can you build up our faithfulness toward our faithful God?
  • What actions can you take to make yourself a more patient person?

Prayer Prompt

Thank God for showing us amazing faithfulness even when we constantly mess up. Confess the times when you haven’t been faithful to God or others. Ask for strength in waiting on the Lord.

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