When Patience Wears Thin

Patience is a virtue. This is something we all repeat and, although we believe it, it’s difficult to put into practice. But let’s take it a step further. Patience is not only a virtue, but a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5).

Though easy to neglect, patience is crucial to living a godly life. If we desire to live like Jesus, then we must exercise patience in all spheres of life. Having patience not only makes us more like Jesus—as He displayed perfect patience—but it also helps us be better parents, spouses, brothers, sisters, friends, etc.

But what do we do when our patience wears thin, when our ability to wait evades us, when our long-suffering isn’t so . . . long?

We must repent to Christ. This may seem like common sense, but it must be at the beginning of true change. If we lack patience, we must repent. Repent of becoming easily frustrated; repent of being too quick to speak when the situation calls for silence; repent of being overly impatient with everything around you.

Our lack of patient will not get better without repentance. And we have to beware of what the Apostle Paul called “worldly grief” (2 Cor. 7:10). If we aren’t careful, we could feel like we’re repenting but, in reality, we are just giving lip service to the Lord. Our repentance will not be perfect—as we are not perfect—but we must desire to change our attitudes.

We must look to Christ. “For every look at yourself,” Robert M. McCheyne said, “take ten looks at Christ.” Each time we despair over our constant battle with impatience, we must take that opportunity to look at Jesus’ perfect patience. The more we dwell on our sin, the deeper into despair we can go. Eventually, we need to take our eyes off our sin and look to Christ.

Christ was perfectly patient—in every sphere of his thirty-some-odd years of life on earth. When we see how we are impatient with our children, for example, we must remember the patience God has for us. The more we gaze on His holy patience, the less impatient we will be.

We must rest in Christ. I’ll be honest with you—sometimes my oldest girl wears me out. She’s just a toddler, I know. But those moments when I have to call her name more than once, get her attention too many times, grab her before she runs into something she shouldn’t—it is exhausting. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Even so, it reveals the sinfulness of my own heart. Though Jovi is sinning just as I am—and we are slowly trying to explain why disobeying is bad—I am far too easily impatient. But when I remember Christ is my righteousness—and that His patience is my patience—I can rest easy. This doesn’t mean I sit back and relax; becoming idle is not the solution. While resting in the righteousness of Christ, I can keep moving forward, keep repenting, keep looking to Christ as I be a dad, husband, brother, etc.

So, Christian, next time your patience wears thin—next time you just can’t get it together—repent, look to Christ, and rest.

Enjoy my writing? You might like my book Gospel Smugness: Displaying Christlike Character in Evangelism.

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