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Christian Counseling - When Patience Is Not a Virtue

Patience (in the Greek, cheerful or hopeful endurance) is greatly esteemed in scripture, and with good reason. Of the 48 times the new Testament records the word, there is not one instance of it being presented in a negative light.

I Timothy 6:11 places patience in a short list of other great characteristics--faith, long suffering and charity, for example. We all need patience to accomplish the will of God and receive His promises (Hebrews 10:36). It is patience that will keep us from the season of tribulation coming on the world (Revelation 3:10). God is long in patience (2 Peter 3:8,9). It comes from the pain of tribulations and wants not satisfied (James 1:3). Patience and faith are necessary to endure trials (2 Thessalonians 1:4). And Romans 15:4 tells us that hope requires patience.

Despite scripture's positive presentation of patience and its clear messages about its importance, we should, nevertheless, test all spirits to see if they are what they appear. When is patience not a virtue? When patience is not patience. When it is:
1. A euphemism for cowardice. Many fear conflict and do what they can to avoid it, which can deceive oneself and others into thinking it is patience.
2. A mask for anger. Some improperly view anger as being evil and repress it, while others may contain it and plot vengeance over time. Withholding anger may be viewed as being patient, strong and not easily offended. Sometimes this is the case for those giving unconditional forgiveness.
3. A front for spiritual maturity. Those who feign patience seek their own glory and positive image. They may deny the reality of their own lack of self-control, or ability to endure, or strength of obsessive desire and pose as one who is infinitely patient.

We must always be alert, vigilant and thinking. Without such we can easily succumb to a sleepy or a hypnotic state of simply taking in anything trusted others are saying or doing without discerning truth from falsehood and right from wrong. It is our duty to be patient, to research and think through what we are being taught.

We may think about testing other spirits for accuracy, but not apply that thought to ourselves. Ask yourself, why am I enduring this difficult situation? Is it that I am patient or is it something else? By examining yourself you can help ensure your patience remains a virtue.

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