Tuesday, January 5th Galatians 5:22-26

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26

Patience and kindness. For me, these are inseparable.

I am not a patient person. Yet I have (begrudgingly at best) come to realize that the world is a place that demands patience. Not simply “expects” but demands patience.

No one can make the sun rise any earlier. A minute will take exactly a minute at every place on the globe, every minute of the day. The mere passage of time demands patience…or it invites impatience.

But what good does impatience do a person? My experience…not much.

I was raised by an on-time mother who lived in eastern North Dakota, a very on-time place. My mother used to say that “you can never be too early but it only takes a minute to make you late.” When I was in school, Ralph Erdrich was the only kid who regularly got into trouble for tardiness, the rest of us were pretty much in our desks when we were supposed to be. Lateness was considered a character defect, like laziness or lying or drunkenness or not fully appreciating lutefisk.

Thus, I became a very on-time person. For most things. Other people in my life, not to mention other people in my world, not so much. I can’t tell you the number of times my truck has left my house with me and people I love dearly sitting in it with me, all of us uncomfortable. I’m angry because I have been impatient for the last 30 minutes – the 15 minutes that passed since we were supposed to leave and the 15 minutes before that when I first realized that we were going to be leaving 15 minutes late. And everyone else uncomfortable because they “know the way I am.”

Most of the time, we got to where we were going on-time anyway…because I am an on-time person.

I’m not generally an unkind person. But my impatience brings out the worst in me. I love my wife dearly and try always to be kind. But inevitably, when my impatience is triggered, unkind words, unkind looks, unkind silence follows right behind. And we both end up slogging our way through another unnecessarily painful moment. Seldom does it occur to me how irrational I am in my impatience or how unjustified in my unkindness!

So it is that Paul links patience and kindness in his list of the gifts of the Spirit. He does the same thing in his famous “love chapter”, 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient; love is kind…”

People in the recovery movement often talk about living “life on life’s terms.” Perhaps part of what they mean when they say that is that they have learned that forcing life to accommodate itself, or other people to accommodate themselves, to our own personal desires doesn’t really work. Far better to relax, to live and let live, to take life one moment at a time, as those moments come. Impatience precludes such an attitude…and it ruins the drive.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, every day brings us opportunities to practice the humility of patience and the loveliness of kindness. Teach us patience as you support us through the frustrations and the challenges of each day. Forgive us for those times when we are impatient and unkind…but more than that, help us see and experience life, and other people, as the glorious gifts they are. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

6 Responses to “Tuesday, January 5th Galatians 5:22-26”

  1. Kathy Haueisen Cashen Says:

    Why is that the “on-timers” always seem to get hooked up with the “I’ll get there when I get there types.” A major source of friction for sure.

  2. Jane Says:

    Thank you for reminding us that no matter how irritated we get with those who are “slower” that we are, that isn’t going to make them go any fast. In fact, I’ve found that it actually impedes their ability to rush!

    I have also found that praying for patience is not good … God has a sense of humor, so when I pray for patience, he gives me circumstances in which I need it!!

    So I know “lift up” my impatience … and it works much better!

  3. Patrick Saylor Says:

    I never cease to be amazed at the ways in which your meditations have touched me personally. Today is no exception. I couldn’t have described myself better than you have already. I am not by nature an unkind person — truly, I think no one is. Yet, impatience has indeed caused more frustration, angry outbursts and uncomfortable situations than I care to admit. Thank you for reminding me of God’s presence and blessings in my life.

  4. Judith Anderson Says:

    Just after reading the devotional message, I found myself becoming impatient with the speed in which my computer was reaching the comments site. I need to work on this.

  5. Nancy Says:

    This one hits me where I live…an on-time person once married to a laid back…it doesn’t matter type. I wait very poorly and get bored much too easily. My solution is to always have a book handy, just in case. I’ll try to remember the link between kindness and patience next time I’m stuck in a line somewhere .

  6. Shadow Says:

    True that we should get over-angry: however people who are late are a major inconvenience to others.

    To leave people waiting for you – at least I think – is quite rude. Impatience may not have a positive effect on immediate emotions, however imagine a world where no one had impatience. Nothing would get done.

    I do not think that that kind of world is what God intended either.

    I guess it goes to show that everything (including patience and impatience) should be in the right dose.

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