Bible Reading: Romans 5:1-5
“But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness” [Galatians 5:25 Amplified Bible]
The Greek word variously translated as forbearance [NIVUK], longsuffering [NKJV], or patience [NLT] in Galatians 5:25 is “macrothumia” “macro” means “long” and “thumos” means “temper”, and so literally “long-tempered”. The opposite of patience is to quickly lose your temper and become angry! Patience is a word meaning the opposite of inappropriate anger. It is the exact opposite of the phrase having a short fuse.
A well-known theologian and writer, Gordon Fee, writes, “The Greek word ‘macrothumia’ is always used in contexts involving one’s forbearance toward others… Thus ‘longsuffering’ has to do with one’s long forbearance toward those who oppose or distress one in some way. Nowhere else does Paul attribute such forbearance to the direct working of the Spirit; but its appearance here shows that Spirit-empowering is not simply for joy and miracles but for this much needed quality of ‘putting up with those who need long and patient love and kindness’.
Jesus’ disciples had been unable to cast a demon out of a demonised boy. The father was desperate and brought him to Jesus. Jesus rebuked His disciples for their lack of faith and said, “How much longer must I put up with this” [Matthew 17:17-18]. The words “put up with” literally mean be patient with.
Jim Packer once said that “Patience is the Christlike reaction to all that is maddening.” The person who is patient does not quickly retaliate or seek to get their own back. When provoked they show self-restraint. Patience does not quickly punish people and when provoked it thinks carefully before it responds. People who have learned to let this fruit grow in their lives have learned to persevere, not to surrender to circumstances or give up when they go through difficult times or trials.
As I am writing this, I am personally realising how far short I come in this particular aspect of the fruit of the Spirit, and there is a hunger in my heart to be more Christlike in this area of patience.
How would you describe the meaning of the Biblical word “patience”?
Are there any particular areas of your life where you are aware that you are impatient? Will you ask the Holy Spirit to specifically help you in those areas?