The Fruit of the Spirit – Living a Spirit-filled life
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22 (NIV)
Day 6: Patience
“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” - Hebrews 6:12 (NIV)
Again, as with love and peace, there is a three-fold sense to patience. We are called to be patient with God, as we wait for God to complete God’s work on earth and in our own lives. (Hebrews 11:13) We are called to be patient with each other. (Ephesians 4:1-3) And in order to be patient with others, we must also learn to be patient with ourselves. In all of this God sets the example by God’s patience with us. (Romans 2:4, 1 Titus 1:16)
Patience is perhaps best personified by a mother with a young child. She teaches him the same thing again and again, she does not lose her temper and yell at him when he forgets, is silly, or even deliberately does wrong. She knows he isn’t perfect and that he is still learning and growing. Even though the people around us are grown-ups, we are all still imperfect and in the process of learning and growing. This can be incredibly frustrating. People in general can be incredibly irritating (myself included). It can be hard to have patience, especially when it feels like people should know better. But while anger begets anger, patience encourages growth, in ourselves and others.
One way to engender patience toward others is to pray for them. It is harder to be annoyed with someone if you are actively praying for their welfare. Another way to find patience is to breathe. When we are frustrated or angry our bodies react – our blood pressure rises, our heartrate increases, and our breathing becomes shallow. Taking deep, slow breaths will counter the physical manifestations of our frustration which will help to calm our spirit as well.
Removing yourself from the situation is also a valid option, whether it is just walking away for a few minutes, or making life changes so that you don’t have to be around people who bring out the worst in you. Don’t forget, though – people are everywhere, and the people in your new job or church or living situation have the potential to be just as frustrating as the ones before. Patience is only truly perfected by practice, and that means sometimes being around people who try your patience.
Think about a time when you made a mistake, or acted immaturely or unwisely, and people reacted with anger and judgement. Can you imagine how much more helpful it would have been if they had been patient? Then think about someone you are having difficulty having patience with. Can you extend them the same gift? Or would it be best for all concerned if you took time apart – a little, or a lot of time?
About The Author
Jessica Kantrowitz spent many years in seminary, earning an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and in various ministries to both Americans and international students. When a health crisis coincided with a faith-shift she left her job in an Evangelical parachurch organization and rediscovered her joy in writing. Her work has been published on Think Christian and The Good Men Project and shared widely throughout social media, in particular her essays, Bake for them two and Things I've been wrong about for most of my life, part one. She lives in Boston where she also works as a nanny and an academic editor. You can find her at her blog, Ten Thousand Places, and on Facebook and Twitter.