“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
“Love is patient…” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
When the apostle Paul listed the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians, the first fruit he mentioned was love. And when he wrote about love in the famous thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, the first attribute of love he mentioned was patience. That’s because patience and love work together.
We often apply the word patience to our circumstances, such as being stuck in traffic, or waiting in a long line, or waiting for the end of a difficult situation in our lives. But the Greek word translated as patience in Galatians 5:22 (makrothymia) refers to having long-suffering, persevering patience with people, rather than circumstances. This sort of patience extends grace to people instead of becoming impatient or angry with them.
We all are recipients of God’s patience. How often have we deserved punishment, but received mercy? How many times has God given us yet another opportunity to learn a lesson we should already have mastered? God is longsuffering with us. He patiently extends grace.
God doesn’t treat us as an annoyance, an irritant, or a bother. He could swat us away, just as we swat away an annoying mosquito. But he doesn’t. He is tender, loving, and patient with us, in spite of our repeated missteps and mistakes.
But we often become impatient and treat others like an annoying mosquito. We are short with them. We answer with anger. We tell them in great detail why they are annoying. We say words that strike like daggers. People can be hurt and scarred because of our impatience and anger.
God dearly loves those people who drive us crazy and make us mad. Instead of tearing them down, we can choose to build them up and make them better by being patient and loving.
Friend, do not underestimate the power of patience and love. We can completely change an outcome by sowing patience and love instead of anger and criticism. A life can be crippled or healed. A relationship can be torn or mended. When we’re tempted to respond harshly and impatiently, let’s pause for a moment to remember God’s patience with us, and choose to extend that same patience to others.
Father God, thank you for your patience with me. I know I have made many mistakes and fallen short of the mark many times. Yet every time I’ve messed up, you’ve been there to pick me up. Your love and patience amaze me. With your help, I want to show loving patience to others. When I am tempted to be short or impatient with others, remind me of your patience with me. In Jesus’s name, amen.