Monday, April 29, 2013

Counterfeit Patience

Rambutan doesn't look very inviting from the outside, but with patience, you break through the tough skin, and what is inside is sweet and delicious.
In the last few posts, we have considered the first three in the list of the fruit of the Spirit. We also looked at their counterfeits - at the characteristics that masquerade as the “real deal” fruit the Holy Spirit wants to grow in us.

Now, let’s look at the fourth item in the list. Let’s look at patience.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23)

What is Patience?

I believe most people would admit to not being very patient. We want things when we want them. That is usually sooner, rather than later. I don’t think that encompasses all that patience means.

I am not a Greek scholar, but it is not hard to go online and find help from someone who is. After a quick internet search, this is what I found from Tony Garland at
Patience is the Greek word hypomone (Strong's #5278) which is a compound word made up of two other words: hypo (a preposition meaning 'under') and moneo (a verb meaning to 'remain' or 'abide'). Thus, the idea is to 'remain under' or 'abide under' difficult circumstances - as when it is not possible to escape or avoid them.(emphasis mine)

From this, we can see that patience is a lot more significant than merely waiting buy something we want, waiting for our kids to finish their homework, or waiting for the traffic light to turn green. Do these things require patience? Sure. Of course they do. But seriously, these are normal, everyday irritations, and not really outside the range of what any well-adjusted person can bear handle. I’m not sure these are really good examples of the spiritual fruit of patience in action.

When difficult circumstance come crashing in and there is no way to escape, that is when our patience is really tried and tested. Unemployment and the resulting financial difficulties, a rebellious teenager, a long-standing conflict at work with someone who doesn’t want to work things out, conflict at home. All these, and more require great patience. They all require an ability to remain under or abide under those circumstances until they are finally resolved.

The Element of Hope

I’d like to add a thought of my own, apart from the Greek definition. I believe that patience also involves an element of hope. 
  • Hope that eventually, whatever is wrong or mixed up will one day be made right OR
  • Hope that even in the midst of situations that are undeniably bad and tragic, God can and will bring about something good.
The Holy Spirit enables us to bear up under difficult circumstances with a sense of hope that there IS an answer. The solution may come tomorrow. It may come next week. We may never see the outcome with our own eyes, but we are determined to remain, to stand firm, as long as it takes.

Resignation - Counterfeit Patience

This brings me to what I see as the counterfeit of patience. The counterfeit is resignation. When someone is merely resigned to the current situation, they have no hope that anything could ever be better than it is. Such a person sees themselves as being “stuck” where they are. As long as the situation exists, they can’t move on in any area of life.

I once heard a dear lady say, “I just have to accept that this is the way my life is. This is how it will always be, and it’s never going to get any better.” My heart broke for her. She wasn’t facing her admittedly difficult circumstances with patience. She was facing them with a sense of resignation. Hope was absent and hopelessness hung over her life like a dark cloud.

You know what? I don’t believe that our God who makes all things new wants His people to be merely resigned to difficult circumstances. I don’t think He wants us to live under a cloud of hopelessness.

When we merely resign ourselves to the idea that nothing will ever change, we put ourselves in a position where we will never change. We will never grow. We will never get in step with the marvelous work God wants to do in us. We will live in hopelessness.

When we remain under difficult circumstances, when we face them with true patience, we will grow. We will change. We will be free to walk in step with God, and experience the positive work He is always doing right in the middle of the tough times.

Choose Patience

Let’s not settle for the counterfeit of resignation. Let’s settle for nothing less than the “real deal” fruit of patience.


Time for Reflection
  • Think of a difficult situation have you ever had to face. Perhaps you are facing one right now. What is it?
  • Did you face or are you facing that difficulty with patience? Or with resignation? Look for the telltale mark of hope.
  • Will you choose patience today as you deliberately look to God in trust that He will bring you through dark days. Will you choose to trust Him to work something good in and through you?


  1. Patience is closely intertwined with trust. The more I trust God, the easier it is to wait on Him.

    1. Absolutely. When I was in process of adopting my daughter, I truly believed God had given me the go-ahead to do so. Because I believed Him and trusted Him, the waiting...while difficult...was still easier than it could have been otherwise. Thanks for reading.

  2. Great post, and I love the distinctions between "everyday" and "difficult circumstances" patience, and patience and resignation. As someone who often struggles with patience in all forms (lol), this post has been a blessing. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Patience is not easy. That's why we need God's Holy Spirit to grow it in us. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.


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