4-Minute Sermons

PATIENCE – A Four-Minute Sermon

Faith Committee, Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky


Contributed by Dr. Paul E. Toms
Senior Pastor (Retired), Park Street Church, Boston, MA

June 21, 2001



Life is full of things that don’t go our way. Adversities are a normal part of everyday life. But what is patience? Most of the New Testament words translated patience have to do with one’s enduring these difficulties and adversities of life. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology says the word is a military term, and thus is used as a metaphor in connection with the battles of life. It means to endure, to be strong, and steadfast, to hold out – in the battles of life. Usually implied is the notion of enduring without losing one’s temper or self-control.


Parents often say to the children, “You try my patience”. Shakespeare has Henry IV saying, “You tread upon my patience. We can go way back to Chaucer, 1343-1400, and he says, “Patience is a high virtue”. Or go even deeper into history and find Titus Plautus, 200 years before Christ, saying, “Patience is the best remedy for every trouble.” Tolstoy was prompted to say, “Time and Patience are the strongest of warriors.” Everyone seems to agree that patience is a great virtue, and is often in short supply.


The word patient, or patience, is used a remarkable number of times in the Bible. First, and very importantly, we see it referring to our Lord. He was patient. He is described as longsuffering and filled with forbearance. Men have often shown contempt for His tolerance and patience. (Romans 2:4) Peter informs us that “our Lord’s patience means salvation “. (2 Peter 3:15), and again he reminds us that, “He is patient with you.” (2 Peter 3:9). We are told that “God waited patiently in the days of Noah ” ( 1 Peter 3:20) Yes, we can thank God for his patience, for often giving us a second-chance, like Jonah (Jonah 1-4), and for being so longsuffering with our waywardness. And we must not forget the warning about His patience: “God’s spirit will not always strive with man.” His patience can run out.
And the Bible also makes clear the importance of this characteristic to us. There are many instructions found in Scripture; here are a few. A key to understanding the importance of patience is its central role in God’s plan for us. Says James, “Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds…” (James 1:2.) Why consider it joy? Trials develop patience and endurance, and patience and endurance, in turn, develop mature character. (Romans 5:3-5.) And mature character is valuable both in this life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8.) Practicing patience will have everlasting benefit.

The Bible specifically instructs us to be patient with other people. This is an important way of blessing them as well as encouraging them by demonstrating what God can do in a person’s life. “Be patient with everyone.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14) ) “Be patient, bearing with one another.”(Ephesians 4:2) ” “Be patient until the Lord comes.” (James 5:7) “Have great endurance and patience.” (Colossians.1:11)

The Bible also instructs us to be patient in waiting for the Lord – endure without losing one’s self-control in waiting for answers to prayer, for direction, for provisions, for opening doors, etc., etc. Wait patiently for the Lord.” (Psalms 37:7)

“Simply wait on Him. In so doing, we shall be directed, supplied, protected, corrected, and rewarded”, testifies Vance Havner. [Christian Reader No. 32, No.4.] Said J. Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, and a great illustration of faith and patience: “As a rule, prayer is answered and funds come in, but if we are kept waiting, the spiritual blessing that is the outcome is far more precious than exemption from the trial.” [Christian History, Issue 19]

Be patient, says the Lord! And we all know this is often very difficult. John Calvin was not granted citizenship in Geneva until 5 years before his death in 1564. Yet he had been the city’s most famous person for over 20 years. [Christian History, John Calvin, No.12]

Hang on, endure, never give up. “It’s always too soon to quit”, said Dr. V .R. Edmond of Wheaton College. And though it is sometimes hard to see, there is very great value in practicing patience – value both in this life and the life to come!

Says the Bible: “run with patience” (Hebrews 12:1-2) and “I waited patiently for the Lord.”(Psalms 40:1) Here it is: Run and Wait. Sometimes we are called upon to keep on keeping on. Other times we are urged to wait and trust and see what the Lord will do and direct. So, run and wait with patience – the quality of your life depends on it.


Let’s spend these closing moments quietly with the Lord in prayer. In your life today, are you running and waiting with patience? Thank the Lord He has a wonderful plan for your life. And thank Him that in the adversities of life you can realize great value for both this life and the life to come by practicing and growing in patience. Ask Him to help you see yourself in terms of patience – what should running and waiting in patience look like in your life? Ask Him to forgive you for the past, and show you steps you need to take. Commit to Him to take these steps with His help. And thank Him for His patience with you, for loving you and for helping you.



This material is published by the Faith Committee of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Reproduction and Adaptation is encouraged.