Charles Stanley - Developing Patience
Patience is one of those qualities all of us need in our life. And yet, it's one of those qualities that oftentimes is very, very difficult for us to live out and to exercise. It's not only a quality we need, it is one of the most powerful qualities a person can have in life because it affects every single aspect of our life. It affects your relationships with people, your relationship to God. It affects your finances, it affects every decision in your life. And oftentimes we don't realize just how powerful, how important the quality of patience is in a person's life. You see, it also involves, listen, time and the grace. Time, because oftentimes we have to wait in order to make a proper decision. Grace, because oftentimes we have to be patient with other people and give them time, for example, to change, if that's necessary.
And it's interesting, throughout scripture, it's very evident that it isn't something that God just drops down into our life. We didn't come into this world with patience. It's not a trait that He gave us at birth. It is something we have to develop in life. And it's interesting through scripture that we see the consequences of those who exercise patience and those who would not exercise patience. It is a very powerful aspect of the Christian's life. And this is the fourth message in our series, "The Power of Patience," and the title of this message today is simply this, and that is "Developing Patience". And I want you to turn, if you will, to Colossians chapter three, and I just want us to read a couple of verses that we've read before. But just to remind you of what he says again and again here, that it isn't just something that we arrive at the moment we're saved or that we're born with or some trait that's naturally there. It is a trait or quality, a characteristic in our life that we have to develop.
And so Paul says in this third chapter of Colossians, beginning in verse twelve, he says, "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against any one; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you". Notice what he says, he says we have to put it on. Now, what does he mean by that? Simply this: that we have a personal responsibility when it comes to patience. That is, when he says put it on, that means to clothe yourself with it, be enveloped by, wrap it around yourself. And I think about what the writer of Proverbs says. He says, "Put kindness, put kindness and truthfulness about your neck," don't let them escape you. That is, patience is one of those qualities we desperately need because it affects every single aspect of our life. And what I wanna do in this message is simply this.
I want us to talk about how to develop patience in order that you and I may make wise, timely, listen, profitable decisions in our life so that we'll be able to build strong, listen, strong, lasting, loving relationships in our life. So that we'll be able to enjoy the favor of God, and so we'll also be able to enjoy, listen, being happy with ourselves. If you cannot, listen, if you're not patient, you can't be happy with yourself. If you're not patient, you're not gonna have the favor of God because you're gonna always be stepping out in front of what He wants you to do, or behind. And certainly, you'll not make wise, timely, profitable decisions because you'll be out of sync with the will and purpose of God. And you won't be able to build, listen, strong, loving, lasting relationships because strong, loving, lasting relationships involve our patience. Being willing to wait for other people to change. Being willing to wait for other people to work things out in their life. So how do we do it? And the first thing I wanna mention is this: to recognize difficulties are opportunities in disguise to help us develop patience.
Now, what happens usually when you and I hit some difficulty or some problem? First thing we wanna say is, "God, why is this happening to me"? Or, "Why couldn't this have been straightened out? Lord, what's going on here? Why didn't You answer my prayer? I don't deserve this. Why did You allow that"? You see, oftentimes we forget the fact, we forget God's purpose in our life. God's purpose in our life is not ease, comfort, and pleasure. God's purpose in our life is to grow us up, to mature us. He says He predestined, He preplanned beforehand that every single one of His children, every saved person would do what? Would be conformed to the likeness of His Son.
So, instead of looking at difficulties and hardships the way He would have us to, we, first of all, wanna blame somebody, blame ourselves, blame God, blame it on the devil. Whatever the circumstance may be, we want to avoid these things because they interfere with our plans and our happiness and our peace and our joy. But if you're gonna develop patience, what you have to recognize, you have to recognize these difficulties and conflict and persecution, tribulation, listen, recognize them as opportunities that God has provided in our life to help us to develop patience. Is that easy? No. Now, Paul says, "Put it on," but he didn't say it was easy. If you're gonna discover patience and, listen, if you're gonna to develop patience in your life, recognize these things as, listen, opportunities for God to do something awesome in your life. So that's number one.
The second thing I'd mention is this: accept the fact that you have a personal responsibility to develop patience in your life. I have a personal responsibility to develop, to pursue the quality, the characteristic, the attribute of patience in my life. I have that responsibility. But we have to accept the fact that, listen, it isn't something that comes easy. And it takes effort and it takes time and it takes energy. And therefore, we have to accept the fact that it is something we have to work at.
Which leads me to the third thing, and that's this. Accept the fact that you're human. We have to accept the fact that we're human, that we make mistakes, that we become impatient, that there are areas of weakness in our life, and therefore because that's true, we have to do what? The fact that it's gonna take time, energy, and effort to develop patience. When you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you know what happened? You were born again. That is, you began a brand new life.
Now, look what you had in your past. Sins, habits, acts of disobedience, your whole thought pattern was different. Your behavior was different. Everything about you was different. And this is why Paul says, "Therefore, if any man be in Christ," or any woman be in Christ, "they're a new creature, old things are passed away, all things have become new". That doesn't mean that all of a sudden you shed all the bad habits, you shed all the wrong thinking. You took off all the erroneous ideas that you had, and now that you think totally different about every single thing instantly, absolutely, quickly it's all over. That's not the way it is. That's why he says, "Grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ". And this is why Paul says put away those things in the past. Even as believers, we have to put it away. And put on what? Put on kindness and gentleness and humility and patience. We have a personal responsibility. It takes effort and time and energy to do so.
A fourth thing is this, and that is to be quick, listen, be quick to accept and forgive yourself when you become impatient. Be quick to listen, to accept yourself and forgive yourself. We all gonna make mistakes. So here's what happens. We can either have a pity-party, blame ourselves, and just stop right there, or we can accept the fact, listen, made a mistake, rather impatient with that person. Forgive myself, accept myself, I'm still in the process of growing, and move on in life. Don't, listen, don't get mired up in the fact that you make a mistake. Don't get mired up in the fact that there is an incident or time when you were impatient with that person. You ask them to forgive you, and you forgive yourself.
Now listen, somebody says, "But they're not forgiving". Remember this, you're not responsible for somebody's response to your asking them to forgive you. Many people don't forgive. You know what? They don't forgive themselves. You and I have to learn to forgive ourselves and we also have to learn, listen, to forgive other people. If I'm gonna develop patience, I must be willing to forgive myself, recognizing I'm in the process of learning and growing, and not hold it against myself, which will hinder me from my spiritual growth.
Another thing is this, and that is when you and I are thinking about developing patience in what we have to deal with in life is this, we have to remember that patience is the fruit of the Spirit, but I want to describe that and explain that because somebody said to me after the third message, "Well, you haven't mentioned the work of the Holy Spirit," on purpose. And here's the reason. If I'm going to develop patience, indeed I must learn to rely upon the Holy Spirit.
But let me explain what that means. When you and I trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, the Holy Spirit came into our life, sealed us as a child of God, and now indwells us. And He has many, many works for us, one of which is to teach us, to instruct us, to comfort us, and all the rest. That is, to enable us to do whatever God requires of us, and He's certainly in the process of growing us up. But here's what that means. It means that as a result of the Holy Spirit living within me, and I rely upon Him, depend upon Him, trust in Him to teach me and enable me, then I can grow. It does not mean that now because I'm a Christian, and because I have the Holy Spirit living within me, that I'm naturally now going to be patient.
You say, "Well, but doesn't He say, Galatians five twenty-two, 'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,' along with gentleness and kindness and so forth. Isn't that the fruit of the Spirit"? It is the fruit of the Spirit, not the gift of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit. That is, it is the fruit, watch this, it is the fruit, it is the result of my yielding to, surrendering to, relying upon, obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit. For example, if you are in conversation with someone, and that person is being very accusative about something that is not true, and loud, and making it very difficult for you for the moment. You have within you the capacity to ask the Holy Spirit to help you, enable you at that moment to be quiet, not to respond, to listen carefully, to be understanding. You have the right and the privilege and the power. You have that, listen, you have the gift of the Holy Spirit, not the gift of patience, the gift of the Holy Spirit to enable you at that moment. But listen, if you don't rely upon Him, you don't trust, you don't Him, you don't call upon Him, you know what happens? You're gonna just respond in the flesh.
So, to say that patience is the fruit of the Spirit also means that I have a responsibility to take advantage of the moment, rely upon Him, trust in Him, believe what He says that He will enable me at every situation, every circumstance, to, listen, to be able to respond in the right fashion. So therefore, to develop patience, yes indeed it means I must learn to rely upon this gift of the Holy Spirit who lives within me to enable me, strengthen me at that moment to be quiet when I need to be quiet, encouraging when I can be encouraging, correct when I need to correct. And so, if I see Him in that light, then I can understand what it means that the Holy Spirit, the fruit of His work in my life is indeed patience.
Now, I've said all of that to come to this very important one, and that's this. And that is, well let me just say this also about that. I see it like this. It's like, let's say for example that you live right next door to a whole field of oil wells. And they're just pumpin' every day and whatever's going on. And then all of a sudden, you inherit them. Well, you have the gift of all their oil wells. You still have to see that they keep pumpin'. You still have a responsibility. That is, the work doesn't stop because you inherited them. You have more work. When you inherited salvation, the Holy Spirit, doesn't mean that you're no longer responsible, nothing for you to do. Relying upon Him, trusting in Him, depending upon Him. That takes effort. And so that's what the fruit's all about.
Now, here's the next one, simply this. When you think about those things that develop patience in our life, patience is developed through trials in our life. Now, this is a part we don't like: trials in our life. And I wanna give you a couple of passages of scripture, and I want us to spend a little time here. Look, if you will, in James, James chapter one. Then I want us to turn to Romans chapter five. And here are two passages of scripture that I think if you'll get a hold of this simple truth here, that patience is developed through trials, tribulation, heartache, difficulty, you name it, that's the way it is developed. Now, listen to what he says. James chapter one, and if you don't understand this and you don't realize what he's saying here, it'll never happen in your life. Listen, he says in verse two of James chapter one, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials". How many of you do that? Just count it all joy. Praise the Lord, I'm undergoing this trial! Hallelujah to God, glory to God!
Tribulation's increasing and I'm thanking Him for it. No, you know why? Because it's totally unnatural. It's unnatural, humanly speaking. The natural thing is to complain, moan, groan, and ask God why is He letting it happen. Listen to what he says now, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials; knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance". Now, you remember in the first message, we mentioned the two Greek words mentioned in the New Testament concerning patience, hupomone, which is translated endurance, perseverance, or patience. Same Greek word just translated different ways. So, here's what he's saying, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials; knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. And let patience have its perfect result," maturing result, "so that you may be perfect," or mature, "and complete, lacking in nothing".
Listen, the only way, the only way I am going to rejoice and thank God and consider it some kind of joy that I'm undergoing this tribulation, trial, heartache, difficulty, accusations, gossip or whatever it might be, the only way I'm gonna be able to consider this with joy and thank God is that I know something good's coming out of it. Here's what he says. Count it all joy, when? When I know and understand that this test is going to produce patience, the powerful quality of patience in my life. Well, go back, if you will, turn back to Romans chapter five and listen to what he says. Romans chapter five, and just the first few verses of this chapter. Romans chapter five, let's read those first few verses together. Now, you see, the truth is this is a whole different way of thinkin' than the majority of people think. We don't think this way.
Now, you say, "Well, you know, I go to church, I tithe my income, I pray, I read the Bible, I do all these things, and certainly I should grow in patience". Not necessarily. Listen to Romans chapter five, beginning in verse one, "Therefore," now, the reason he says therefore is because the first four chapters are all based on how God's grace and goodness and love and mercy has saved us, and so he says therefore. "Having been justified," or declared no longer guilty, "by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult," or we rejoice, "in hope of the glory of God", now, watch this, "And not only this, but we also rejoice in our tribulation; knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;" same Greek word, or patience, "and patience, proven character; and proven character, hope".
Now, I want you to think about something that's very important here. For the most part, most people go to church week after week and they listen to sermons. And these sermons are about peace and joy and hope and comfort and so forth. And somewhere along the way, most Christians have the idea that if you're living the Christian life and you're doing your best and you're trying your best, things really oughtta be rather peaceful and quiet. And God oughtta be prospering us and we oughtta stay healthy and all the good things that we think about. But here's what God says. God says in order to develop patience within us, one of those qualities, many of the qualities, in order to develop the kind of qualities that make us Christlike and that make us useful for God, the kind, listen, the kind of relationships and the kind of circumstances that develop these awesome qualities within us, listen, they come as a result of difficulty, hardship, pain, trials, and tribulations.
So, how many of us rejoice over that? Probably none of us really rejoice over it, but once we have a second thought, God, You're in control. God, You're allowing this in my life for a reason. And you can mark this down. Here are two passages of scripture that are very, very clear, unmistakably clear, that God uses tribulations, trials, difficulty, hardship in order for the purpose, listen, he says, knowing this, knowing this, that these things are to have the purpose of building into our lives perseverance. We don't give up. Perseverance, we're willing to wait. Perseverance, we hang in there no matter what. Those qualities are built into our life, how? Tribulation, trials, difficulty, hardship, and pain.
Now, you say, "Well, you don't know who I live with". I understand that. "You don't know the circumstances where I work". I understand that. But this much I do know. There are no mistakes in this Book. Listen, what you've just heard in these two passages, watch this. This is God's viewpoint, not man's view. Man's viewpoint is ease, comfort, and pleasure. God's viewpoint is this. I want to mature you. I want to grow you up into the likeness of My Son. And in order to do that, I must sand off the rough spaces. I must sift and sand, and sometimes I must be able to chip away. And sometimes I must sculpture away. And sometimes I must prune away those situations and circumstances in your life that have brought about things that don't belong there. Have to take 'em away. How do I take 'em? I have to get your attention. How do I get your attention? Difficulty, hardship, pain, trial, tribulations, which drive us to God. What causes us to mature in Him? The things that we don't like.
And then I think about how much gospel is preached, and what we wanna do is we wanna eliminate all of that so we can all live happily ever after. And one these days, we die and go to Heaven and live forever and ever and ever and, joy of the Lord Jesus. The only problem is that's not the way it is. The way it is, is this. In a world of hardship, difficulty, trial, pain, and tribulation, God, in those circumstances, gives us opportunities to do what? To mature. Listen to this, our maturity equips us to serve Him. Our maturity makes us look like Him. Our maturity's growing us up into Christlikeness. We look more like ambassadors of Jesus Christ. We look more like the Son of God. Why? Because the tribulation and the trials and the heartaches develop within us those characteristics that make us godly. And then, for example, patience is developed as a result of our faith. And notice what I said. Not that, listen, not that patience comes as a result of faith, but listen, our faith and our patience are intermingled.
Now, watch this, as we go through difficulty, hardships, and pains in our life, as we face these trials in our life, what happens? We face them confidently and we face them faithfully, and what happens? We see how God answers our prayer, how He takes us through these things. Then we begin to see how we're maturing. We begin to see how God is building our faith and strengthening our faith because, as He takes us through these things and our faith begins to build, then what happens? We become more patient. Because you know why? We know He's going to work it out. We've seen Him do it before.
And so, as we grow in our patience, our faith is stronger. And as our faith gets stronger, our patience becomes, listen, more evident. Because we're so absolutely, totally convinced that God is adequate, we'll trust Him, we'll wait for Him, we'll be patient, we'll rely upon Him, no matter what. Then of course, I think about this last one, and I want you to be sure you jot this down because this is so very important in the development of patience in our life. And I look at it and think about it this way. Patience develops in proportion to my belief that God is in absolute control of my life. Patience is going to develop in proportion to my belief that God is in absolute control of my life.
Now, think about it this way. If you believe that God is in absolute control of your life, and you have surrendered your life to Him, that means that, listen, that all of your times are in His control. Therefore, I can, listen, I can be patient because He's in control. He's in control of our schedule. He's in control of circumstances. He's the One who was in control of you when you thought you made a wrong turn. And if you'd-a made the right turn, you may have been in the middle of a crash. He's the One who is in such absolute control of our lives. Once we understand that, once, listen, once we consider that not just as a theological idea, but the reality of our life, that God is in absolute, total control of my life. And as I'm willing to walk in obedience to Him, all of my time and all of my schedules and all, listen, all those things that affect every aspect of my life, I can afford to be patient and wait, why? Because an all-wise Heavenly Father is in absolute control of every single aspect of it. I can trust Him, I can be patient to what they do to me, or what they need. In other words, whatever the issue is, I can be patient and watch Him work.
Now, those are some suggestions if you will apply to your life, is gonna change your thinking. And the biggest change is this: I'm gonna stop complaining, moaning and groaning, fussing and fighting, arguing, and all the rest, defending myself, when difficulty, hardships, trials, tribulations come. Now, I'm gonna begin to look at these as God's awesome, wonderful opportunities for me to be shaped into the likeness of His Son. I'm gonna become more patient because I realize what's happening is He's doing an awesome work in my life to build into my life this powerful attribute of patience, which will make me more like His Son, more valuable to the Kingdom, more helpful to others, more valuable as a servant of God, and a greater comfort to people who are going through difficulty, hardship, and trouble in their life.