If you are tempted to lose patience with your fellowman; stop and think how patient God has been with you.
– Source Unknown (Allauthor)
In a world obsessed with instant gratification, patience is rather a difficult topic. We are rushed, we don’t want to wait, and we certainly won’t abide anybody standing in the way of our next quick entertainment fix. Sounds scarily familiar if we are totally honest with ourselves, doesn’t it?
patience (noun): the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
That sounds hard, right? Maybe we can find another word for this μακροθυμία (makrothumia) in the original Greek. The King James Version has a different translation: long-suffering.
long-suffering (noun): long and patient endurance of injury, trouble, or provocation.
So this fruit of the Spirit goes pretty deep. It is not just momentarily being able to not scream at the person that cuts in front of you in traffic, wasting a whole two seconds of your time. This kind of patience endures provocation for a long time, without responding even in irritation.
I confess that I am rarely patient under prolonged provocation…
So how on earth are we supposed to live up to that? The answer, as it is so often, is love.
1 Corinthians 13:4a (WEBBE): 4Love is patient and is kind.
Ephesians 6:12 (WEBBE): 12For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
When we realise that the people that harm us are not the enemy, but rather the spiritual forces behind their actions, then loving people becomes easy. People that are under the hold of evil are prisoners of war, that we should free from their bonds. And we can’t even begin to contemplate helping somebody when we loose patience with them. Causing us to loose patience is a tactic of the enemy to distract us from our mission of being God’s love in this world.
To be effective spiritual warriors, we not only faith need but also patience!