It is not difficult to trace the source of biblical patience in God's children. I Corinthians 13:4 states, "Love suffers long and is kind." Patience is directly associated with love and hope. In the "love chapter," Paul lists patience first among love's works (I Corinthians 13:4). Romans 5:5 adds that "the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit."
This makes it evident that God's patience stands behind His children's patience as its source and pattern and as a link in a chain. Because the Bible lists it with the fruit of the Spirit, it is less a virtue achieved than a gift received. It comes with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and we reproduce it.
However, since we are beings of free choice, we are still obligated to God to activate it, exercise it, and use it as a witness that God lives in us. To this end, Paul writes,
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Colossians 3:12-13)
"Put on" is literally a dressing term. Used as an idiom, it can also mean to assume the office, manner, character, disposition, or perspective of another. We must "put on" Christ, meaning we must conduct our lives as closely to the way He would were He in our position. We are to practice His way of life because it is eternal life—the way God lives His life. It will help prepare us for His Kingdom, and it enables us to glorify Him here and now.
Patience is a vital part of the process that enables God to work over a long span of time, if needed, to produce in us other important aspects of His image so that we "may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." God is the Source and His Spirit the means of this very valuable fruit.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Patience