A great way to help your children build godly character is to study the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 with them. Let’s continue this series on the fruit of the Spirit with a brief look at patience.

Patience is a character quality that many of us struggle with. I used to think I was a fairly patient person until I had young children, then I realized I had a ways to go in that area! God promises that as we seek Him and allow His Spirit to work in us, He will develop this character quality in us.

The following article on patience is reprinted with permission of Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators and the author, Kris Hage. It originally appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of The Paper MACHE (now called Homeschool Now Minnesota). Visit MACHE.org.

Growing the Fruit of PATIENCE

In the Character Companion, the animal picture for the quality of patience is the spider. Why? Because spiders exhibit great patience and perseverance as they make their webs and wait for their prey. If you have ever examined a spider’s web glistening in the sunlight, you have had to admire (no matter how repulsive the spider may be) the intricate geometric design made by such a small creature. God has given them amazing engineering skills, coupled with the patience to wait for their dinner to arrive! The trapdoor spider works long and hard to create his burrow, fashioning a trapdoor at the top that is hinged with silk on one side. When he feels the vibrations of approaching prey, he jumps out and captures it, as a reward for the patient work of spinning all that silk.

You and I don’t usually have to exhibit so much patience in waiting for our dinner each day, but we all have trials that come in an infinite variety to try, test, and hopefully teach us patience. This fourth fruit of the Spirit is known as patience, forbearance, steadfastness, or longsuffering. Our character definition: Quietly waiting; not frustrated or hurried; contentedly waiting on God’s timing; not overly demanding of others; not easily upset.[1]

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

Exploring God’s Word

Romans 5:1-5 reminds us of the peace we have with God (that we explored in the fall 2018 issue) and the hope of seeing God’s glory. As we rejoice in the peace and hope we have in Christ, Paul tells us we can also rejoice in suffering that comes our way because it works patience (produces endurance) in us. That “patience produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:4-5).

James’ letter to the Jewish Christians, who had been forced out of their homes to live as exiles because of their faith, gives us the same message: trials and suffering teach us patience and steadfastness (James 1:2-4).[2] In chapter 5, James uses the familiar example of the farmer, who patiently waits for his harvest until after the crops receive the early and late rains (James 5:7-8). He also mentions the notorious suffering Job endured in the Old Testament (James 5:11). Job was blessed by God when he remained steadfast in his faith. To show this to your children, read through Job 1:13-22 to see the trials God used to test and strengthen Job and then Job 42:10-17 to see how he blessed him for his patient endurance that kept trusting God.

In many places in the Bible we are commanded to “wait on the LORD.” Some of these include: Psalm 37:7, 34; 130:5-7, Lamentations 3:22-26, Isaiah 40:30-31. This is not a passive, sit-around-and-do-nothing kind of waiting. It is an active grace God gives us to stand steadfast in our faith, trusting him, no matter what the circumstances we are facing.

Putting it into Practice

Our children get plenty of practice in the area of patience during their everyday activities and school work. So here are a few more enjoyable ways to show them the importance of patience.

Beautiful Geometry

Mosaic art requires a good deal of patience but rewards you with a beautiful picture when you finish. You may purchase a mosaic art kit at your local craft store or try this simpler craft:

Take a few sheets of green and red tissue paper; cut 2”x2” squares, making enough to cover the simple outline of an apple tree you draw on construction paper or cardstock. Using an old pencil, center one square of green tissue paper on the flat eraser end of the pencil, crumpling it tightly around the pencil, then dip the flat end in school glue and press it inside the outline of the tree. The red squares can be placed here and there like the apples on a tree. Place the tissue squares as close together as possible for a leafy-looking tree when it’s dry. While coloring the trunk brown with markers or crayons, remind your children that the apple orchard farmers are just seeing the apple trees get their leaves and will have to wait patiently, taking good care of them all summer, to have a great apple harvest.

Indoor Farmers

After a long winter, it’s a delight to the eyes to have some green growing in your house! Take a jar you don’t need and let your child decorate it with markers or whatever you have on hand. Fill it about halfway with potting soil, or a wad of paper towels will also work fine. Thoroughly wet the paper towels, if using them. Let your child plant some wheat berries or alfalfa seeds in the jar. Remember the patient farmer as you wait for the seeds to sprout, keeping the soil or towels moist for about a week.

Patient Cooks

Always worth the wait, homemade bread is so delicious—but it takes some patience to make! Try the following recipe with your children (punching the dough down after it rises is the most fun!):

Quick White or Wheat Bread

In a saucepan or microwave bowl, combine:

1 tbsp. shortening

2-1/4 c. nonfat dry milk in liquid form

2 tbsp. sugar or 1-1/2 tbsp. honey

2 tsp. salt

Heat until shortening is melted.  Cool slightly.  Combine in a mixer with 1 tbsp. yeast and 2-1/2 c. flour.  Add up to 3-1/2 c. more of flour.  Knead on a floured surface for 10 minutes.  Let rise in a greased bowl until doubled.  Punch down and divide in half.  Shape loaves (or rolls) and put in greased pans.  Let rise for 1 hour.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Makes 2 loaves.

[1] Kristyn Hage, Character Companion for the Miller Family Series (Mifflin, PA: Green Pastures Press, 2013) 33.

[2] See also 1 & 2 Peter, which were written to encourage the suffering exiles.

Download a FREE lesson on Patience from Growing the Fruit of the Spirit – A Bible-based Unit Study

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How about you? Do you have some things you’ve done with your children that you could share below in the comments? I love to hear how others have helped build godly character in their children.