Fruit of the Spirit: Patience

Nature of Patience

CALVIN DESCRIBED PATIENCE (μακροθυμία/makrothymia) as a “gentleness of mind, which disposes us to take everything in good part, and not to be easily offended.”1John Calvin and William Pringle, Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 168. And F. F. Bruce put it this way: “If in English we had an adjective ‘long-tempered’ as a counterpart to ‘short-tempered’, then μακροθυμία could be called the quality of being ‘long-tempered.’”2F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982), 253.

God’s Patience with Us

2 Pet 3:9

The source of patience is God, who is himself “long-suffering” with his rebellious creatures. The Scriptures frequently describe God’s patience, in passages like these:

As a counterpart to “short-tempered,” μακροθυμία is being “long-tempered”
  • “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (Rom 2:4)
  • “In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction.” (Rom 9:22)
  • “But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.” (1 Tim 1:16)
  • “And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. ” (2 Pet 3:15a)


Patience vis-a-vis the Charismata

Paul says, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love” (Eph 4:2). The deference necessary for broad but orderly exercise of the charismata requires patience. At the least, it requires wait-your-turn patience, and like all human relationships, the relationship between charismatics in a congregation will require patience. Some people in the church can get on “your last nerve.” And that could include the tongue talker or even a prophet—or even a busy body who’s certain she’s exercising the gift of helps.

Whether we’re exercising a speaking gift, listening receptively, or making judgments about these things, “We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love” (2 Cor 6:6). And whether we’re exercising a helping gift or on the receiving end, “We prove ourselves by … our patience.”

Rev 3:10

A prayer for patience…

Father, I pray for patience where I grow short-tempered and that I would receive a patient response when I’m getting on someone else’s last nerve. And for the whole congregation, I join Paul in praying that God will strengthen us all with all his glorious power so we will have all the endurance and patience we need (Col 1:11).


  1. Are you generally loving and patient with others, making allowance for their faults?
  2. Reflect on how patient God has been with you and your faults.

Author: Dale A. Brueggemann

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