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  • Writer's pictureBishop Dr Peter (UK)


Galatians 5:22-23 (American Bible)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience under tribulation, kindness, goodness, faith,

meekness, self-control; no law is contrary to such things.

Notes on the Scripture

There are two related ways to describe the virtue, generally translated as “patience” in this passage. The first is the one that comes immediately to mind, the general meaning we give the word “patience” in English; that is, remaining in a tranquil state while awaiting an outcome. The application of patience to the Christian mindset is immediately obvious. After all, we have been waiting for the return of Christ for 2,000 years, now, and we might wait thousands more.

It is also, surely, a virtue when dealing with other people, as it leads to kindness. Does it take Aunt Agnes five minutes to understand something you are trying to tell her? Well, there's no use in trying to hurry her. You'll either hurt her feelings or else tear yourself up with internalized resentment or frustration.

But the Greek word Paul uses here has a more specific connotation, as well as the general one. It refers to how we react to provocation. It is one thing to stay calm when someone unintentionally wastes our time. It is another thing altogether to remain calm when someone knowingly or even intentionally provokes us.

So we see, immediately, that patience ties directly to the preceding fruit of the Spirit, peace. It is the attitude that allows us to keep the peace when we are provoked. The range of time is from the very short term — such as somebody disagreeing with something we know to be true, or cutting in front of us in line — to the very long term. Underlying it is faith that God is in charge, and that He knows what He is doing!

The idea of remaining calm in the face of provocation applies to much more serious acts than cutting in line or verbal insult. It includes real suffering, and in the extreme, death. What virtues did Christ show when He was put on trial for imaginary charges, tortured, and hung up to die? One of them was patience. He endured His pain without cursing those who inflicted it. He let things run their course without anger or complaint.

With faith we inherit the Spirit, and with the Spirit, we can demonstrate patience; for we know God’s will shall be done and His plan accomplished, making it possible for us to endure the worst that the world can throw at us. For we are certain that evil will pass, and Christ will return in glorious victory.

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