Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Fruit of the Spirit: Day 6: Patience


The Greek word Paul uses, makrothumia, literally means “large-hearted” or “large-souled”, but perhaps we can more helpfully think of it as “long-tempered”, the opposite of “short-tempered”. In the Old Testament God is described as “slow to anger” (Psalm 103.8), and though people often think of the God of the Old Testament as being fierce, in fact when we read its story as a whole, we see a God who rescues his people time and time again, who is tempted to give up on them, but doesn’t. He is a God of supreme patience. “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel?” he cries, (Hosea 11.8) despite the fact that they have turned away from him and lived without justice or mercy towards those who are vulnerable.

In the New Testament, Jesus tells of a patient God, who is like a father waiting for his prodigal son to return so that he can forgive him and welcome him, (Luke 15) and who urges people not to rush to judgement in the parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13). In that story, the anxiety of the slaves who see weeds growing in the field of wheat they have sown for their master. They are so afraid that they will be blamed, that they are prepared to rip up the good plants along with the weeds. Patience requires us to trust that we, and those around us, are in God’s hands, and that he knows what we need, and when we need it.

·         What makes you lose your patience?
·         What is going on inside us when we become impatient? What are we afraid might happen if we don’t get what we think we need right now?
·         Pray: Give thanks for God’s patience with you.

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