Love is patient…it is not irritable… – 1 Corinthians 13:4,7
But the fruit of the Spirit is…patience. – Galatians 5:22
Here we might describe patience as being long-tempered. We have the word short-tempered in our dictionary, but interestingly you won’t find the word long-tempered. And that’s probably because being long-tempered is so rare. We are all too easily provoked. We are all too easily quick to anger. We tend to be irritable. We need to be long-tempered by the Spirit.
Jerry Bridges put it this way, “This kind of patience does not ignore provocations of others; it simply seeks to respond to them in a godly manner. It enables us to control our tempers when we are provoked and to seek to deal with the person and his provocation in a way that tends to heal relationships rather than aggravate problems. It seeks the ultimate good of the other individual rather than the immediate satisfaction of our own aroused emotions.”
The opposite of these things is to be short-tempered, quick to anger, to blow up or clam up. How do we begin to walk in patience? We begin by asking, “What am I defending in my anger? Is it something good or is it my own selfish agenda or ego?” If I’m defending something good, I then ask, “Where and how am I directing my anger? Am I attacking the person to tear down or the problem in a mercifully constructive way?” If love is patient then we could say, “Beloved, if God [is so patient with us], we also ought to [be patient with one another]” (1 John 4:11).
Suggestions for prayer
Who is God asking you to be more patient with this week? In what circumstances are you irritable? Pray that the Spirit would remind you of God’s patience in Christ towards you and produce the fruit of patience in your life.