TEXT: Psalm 37:1-11
The students will be able to define the quality of patience, and realize why it is an essential step in becoming fruit-bearing Christians.
Two Greek words, hypomone and makrothymia, are translated to our English word patience, but they are not exactly synonymous in meaning. Hypomone is the quality of endurance under trial, holding steady and not going under. It is mainly an attitude of the heart with respect to things. Makrothymia, or longsuffering, is an attitude with respect to people, bearing with those whose attitudes or behavior are in conflict with that which we think to be right or proper. Longsuffering is listed in Galatians 5:22 as a fruit of the Spirit. Patience, a virtue which God prizes highly, seems best developed under hard trials.
Patience is vital to our growth in grace. Impatience, resltlessness, and unwillingness to yield fully to the will of God will hinder or obstruct the work of God's Spirit in our lives. It may take a long time for God to accomplish in our lives what He wishes to do quickly. "But we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope" (Romans 5:3-4). The aim is that we "may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:4).
- How would you define the word patient as related to this lesson?
Response: Ask for several of the students to give their definitions. After considering all of the things patience is, guide students in discussing why this attitude is vital to a Christian.
- In James 5:7-11, you will find some specific situations which require patience. Find at least two and write them down. How are these situations similar or different from the situations we face in our day?
Response: Patience in waiting for the coming of the Lord (verse 7).
Patience in suffering affliction (verse 10).
Patience in waiting for deliverance from trials (verse 11).
Your students will see that we are still waiting for the coming of the Lord, we still suffer afflictions, and we still need deliverance from trials. Ask your class to suggest some other areas that may require patience in our day.
- Read 1 Peter 2:19-20. As Christians, how are we to take it if we are rebuked or “buffeted” for our faults? What is God’s attitude when His children do well and suffer for it patiently?
Response: Help your students conclude that they should take patiently any rebuke for their faults. And if they do well and suffer for it, but take it patiently, this is acceptable to God. If they are to be patient even though being buffeted (severe hardships), how much more should they patiently respond to less severe forms of chastisement? Guide the discussion to center around what effects this evidence of patience will have on their own life and the lives of others around them.
- Patience can only be developed by experience. Write at least five everyday situations which would require patience.
Response: Allow students time to relate their situations. Some might be: waiting at a grocery store checkout line; waiting for cars stopped at signal lights; waiting for a bus (even school buses); waiting for a meal; and parents who are waiting for a child to clean his room or mow the lawn. Now help your students discuss some profitable things to do during these times which will help them develop patience. For example: While waiting, count their blessings or pray.
- In our text we find many promises for the one who has patience. List three of them and explain why they are important to you.
Response: Allow time for your students to respond with the promises they found. They likely will mention that they are promised the desires of their heart, that they will be fed, and that they will inherit the earth. Encourage your class to consider the magnitude of these promises. They will receive the desires of their hearts—no doubt all of them have prayers that need to be answered. The promise that they will be fed is not a small matter in a world where a great percentage of the population faces famine and starvation. The eternal reward will be to inherit the earth. Surely it is worth the effort to cultivate patience!
- Heat is a common element necessary to many refining processes. Read 1 Peter 4:12-13, and write what you think these verses have to do with patience.
Response: Students should see that trials are necessary to develop patience and will come to every true Christian. It is the fiery trial in a Christian’s life that makes him a partaker of Christ’s suffering, thereby revealing God’s glory in his life.
- Read Malachi 3:2-3. In the refining of gold, there are certain steps which are necessary to achieve the perfect end results—steps which cannot be circumvented or abbreviated. Can you name some other areas where refining must follow certain steps to achieve the desired result?
Response: Encourage students to contribute their examples. Some might be: refining of oil or gas, or the making of glass. Help your students draw a parallel between refining processes and their need to be refined as Christians. Discuss how patience plays a vital role in this process of refinement.
Use a Rubik cube, or some other small, hand-held puzzle, to illustrate patience.
Take a shoe to class. Ask your students to help you in teaching a child to tie the laces. Liken the methods of teaching (by telling, by example, by “hands-on” guidance) to how God teaches us patience.
Show your class a padlock with a combination lock. Have one student try to open it without the combination. Then give another student the combination and let him try to open it. Give a third student the combination and the instructions as to which way to turn the dial. If none of them are able to open it, you open it for them. Parallel this with our walk in life. The Bible has the combination to happiness. Even when we have the combination and the direction, we must work at being happy by learning patience.
A needle and thread are always perfect items to use when demonstrating patience.