The fourth description of the fruit which the Holy Spirit produces in our lives is ‘patience.’ This is a very important aspect of financial fruitfulness. You get a chicken by slowly hatching an egg, not smashing it! Patience can be bitter- but the fruit is sweet!
Being patient is not easy in our modern culture, which says; “I want it, and I want it now!” We live in a 'Culture of Now.' We're constantly bombarded by messages trying to convince us to buy now, to spend now, to have what we want this very moment. Nobody preaches patience.
I remember the Spielberg film starring Tom Cruise, “The Minority Report” which painted a disturbing picture of the future. One of the future changes was to be highly personalised advertising. Whenever you entered a shopping centre, or shop of any kind, eye-retina scans would identify you. And then every sign, every screen, and every sales placard would call you by name, show you all the products you have purchased or considered in the past, and showcase all the new, similar products for you in your preferred colour, shape, and size. Sounded incredible at the time. Not now. Just log on to Amazon or Facebook and products which you were previously looking at suddenly appear for you – other products of people with a similar viewing history turn up too. And we are just at the beginning of big data influencing our lives and advising us what to buy.
Outcomes of decisions
There are two outcomes to the decisions you make in life: gratification or regret. Of course, the only way you know the results of your decisions is by viewing them in hindsight or retrospect. Can you sacrifice gratification and pleasure in the present to instead experience it in more abundance in the future? You might have thought before that if you can only go back in the past and know then what you know now, you might have done things differently. That’s called regret. Or are you absolutely happy with who you are now; despite the mistakes and hardships you’ve gone through? That is known as gratification.
Delayed gratification, or deferred gratification, is the resistance to the temptation of an immediate pleasure in the hope of obtaining a valuable and long-lasting reward in the long-term. It means putting off buying what we want now so that we can perhaps get something else, something better, later on. This is an absolutely essential discipline for financial fruitfulness.
In a classic psychology experiment from the 1970s, a psychologist named Walter Mischel placed a treat in front of children and offered them a choice. They could either enjoy the marshmallow now or wait a brief period of time in order to get two.
When the experimenter left the room, many of the kids immediately ate the treat, but some of the kids were able to put off the urge to enjoy the treat now and wait for the reward of getting two delicious goodies later on. Watch this very funny video.
What Mischel discovered was that the kids who were able to delay gratification had a number of advantages later on over the kids who simply could not wait. The children who had waited for the treat performed better academically years later than kids that ate the treat right away. Those who delayed their gratification also displayed fewer behavioural problems and later were much more successful in life.
The Holy Spirit can produce self-control in your life which will enable you to forego something today in order to get something better in the future.
Patience reveals our faith in God.
Patience reveals our faith in God’s timing, omnipotence, and love. Although most people consider patience to be a passive waiting or gentle tolerance, most of the Greek words translated “patience” in the New Testament are active, robust words. Consider, for example, Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore since we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” The word translated “patience” in this verse means “endurance.”
A Christian runs the race patiently by persevering through difficulties. In the Bible, patience is persevering towards a goal, enduring trials, or expectantly waiting for a promise to be fulfilled.
Patience does not develop overnight. God’s power and goodness are crucial to the development of patience. Colossians 1:11 tells us that we are strengthened by Him to “great endurance and patience,” while James 1:3-4 encourages us to know that trials are His way of perfecting our patience.
Benefits of patience
Patience will help keep you out of debt as you learn to wait and save before making a major purchase.
Patience will help you to grow your money as you learn to save and then invest your money.
Patience teaches you discipline. I use the 30-day waiting list. Any major purchase goes on this list for prayer, further research for anything better or an evaluation if I really need it.
Patience allows us to seize future opportunities. If you are willing to save, then if something really interesting comes up, you will be able to grasp hold of the opportunity.
Patience helps you discover what’s really important. By nature, I am impulsive – but by waiting, I can evaluate if what I want to buy is really important when seeking the priorities of the Kingdom. (Matthew 6:33)
Patience is waiting on the Lord
The Lord wants us to enjoy an abundant life, but this takes the fruit of the Spirit to make it possible! “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (Psalm 27:14)
Waiting on the Lord opens a door for His proactivity in my life. “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 64:4)