A warrior depends on fundamental elements like courage, strength, and the ability to willfully inflict violence. But the good and noble warrior depends on something even more fundamental. She depends on patience. Without patience, courage becomes foolishness, strength is misapplied, and violence is brutal, unmeasured, and unfocused. The wisdom of proverbs captures this truth in an interesting way when it says that a patient person is better than a warrior, or one who captures a city ( Proverbs 16:32 NIV). This is partly because any warrior can mete out destruction, but only a patient warrior is able to capture the right city at the right time! Properly applied patience makes a person mighty, and this truth applies across vocational domains. An impatient hunter goes hungry. A patient hunter feeds himself, his family, and his community.
The word means having the ability to suffer long, and to wait through discomfort. It is, in fact, a kind of endurance. Followers of Christ are expected to grow in our ability to suffer long, and to endure the hardships of a hostile world with Christlike refinement ( Romans 5:3-5, Romans 15:4-6, Colossians 1:11, 2 Corinthians 6:4-10).
Patience is vital to good relationships. A person who has not mastered patience will lash out at his wife, or his children or his friend. Such explosiveness creates both trust and mistrust. That man’s family will lose trust in his ability to love them, and they will begin to trust that he will create discomfort in their lives if they say anything wrong. This limits their ability to speak their mind, be truthful, or approach him in love. It also builds resentment. The bible calls such a lack of patience foolishness ( Proverbs 29:11).
True patience is not without a goal. It sees a prize at the end of the suffering, and endures to achieve that prize. A patient woman who loves her husband, suffers long with the goal of improving their relationship, and ultimate prize of helping her husband achieve a better masculinity. Such a goal is the root of God’s patience for us. Because he loves us, and is making us more like Christ, he is patient with us, and suffers through our failings in the world that he created for us ( 2 Peter 3:8-9). He does this so that we will come to repentance and improve who we are.
And since he is our example, we should do our best to learn his kind of patience and extend it to others, as well as to our difficult situations ( 1 Peter 2:21). What areas do you need to apply patience in your life? Have you prayed for God to help you with that?