Renowned evangelist Billy Graham has offered some practical advice for people struggling with the sin of impatience and explained that lasting patience isn't something one can achieve without God's help.
The 98-year-old founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association recently responded to a question posed by an unidentified reader.
"My biggest fault (or so people keep telling me) is impatience," the reader said. "I guess I was born this way, and I'm not sure I can do anything about it. And anyway, what difference does it make?"
Graham first advised the reader to ask themselves why people keep telling them this.
"The reason, I suspect, is because your impatience makes it very difficult for them to be your friend-and that's one reason why you need to overcome this," he said. "The Bible says, 'Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly' (Proverbs 14:29)."
The Baptist pastor then clarified why an impatient attitude is a sin in God's eyes: "One reason is because constantly being impatient and upset hurts us-emotionally, physically and spiritually," he explained.
Second, it also "hurts our relationships, because no one enjoys being around someone who is constantly complaining-especially about things that can't be changed."
But most of all, "an impatient attitude hurts our relationship with God and is contrary to His plan for our lives", Graham said. "The Bible says, 'But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving' (James 3:17)."
What can be done to combat an impatient attitude? The pastor said that first of all, it's important to understand that being ruled by an impatient attitude is wrong in God's eyes.
"In other words, don't ignore it or excuse it," he advised. "Then turn to Jesus Christ and ask Him to come into your life, to forgive you of your sins and to help you become the person He wants you to be."
Most importantly, realize that true, lasting patience isn't something you can achieve on your own.
"You need God's help-and He'll give it to you as you submit your life to Him. The Bible says, 'the fruit of the Spirit is ... patience' (Galatians 5:22, ESV)," he concluded.
In an op-ed, theologian and Desiring God founder John Piper argued that impatience is actually a "form of unbelief", as it's "what we begin to feel when we start to doubt the wisdom of God's timing or the goodness of his guidance. "
"The opposite of impatience is a deepening, ripening, peaceful willingness either to wait for God where you are in the place of obedience, or to persevere at the pace he allows on the road of obedience-to wait in his place, or to go at his pace," he explained.
The way to combat impatience, he said, is to "buttress your hope (or faith) in God, and the way to buttress your hope in God is to listen to his Word, especially his promises."
He advised: "If you are tempted not to wait peacefully for God, to let him give you your next move-if you are tempted to give up on him or go ahead without him-please realize that this is a moment for great spiritual warfare. Take the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17), and wield some wonderful promise against the enemy of impatience."