“Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another.”
I am patient. I am kind. I am open-minded.
When we look into the basic definition of patience, it usually means ‘to wait’. In the Bible, though, patience is interpreted as not just waiting. In the Bible, patience means waiting while enduring discomfort, and waiting without complaint. When we look at patience as a Christian virtue, we can often only get stuck on the surface meaning i.e. waiting around and not complaining. But looking deeper, we need be mindful of what it is that we do (our actions) while we’re waiting.
On a daily basis, how often do you find yourself being impatient? This usually happens when we’re stressed. You always seem to get that chatty barista in the morning when you’re already 20 minutes late for work and all you want is your decaf latte. And then later, you’re in the grocery store stuck behind the lady who only has a credit card in the cash-only queue.
From personal experience, I find it’s not so much the verbal complaining that I need to be mindful of. I can wait without saying a word. It’s the non-verbal cues I display. Rolling my eyes. Heavy sighs. Folding my arms across my chest and lifting one eyebrow. These are all forms of non-verbal complaints. Why do I do this? Because the “offender” must know that I am displeased, but that I am “graciously” holding myself back and not verbalizing what I really want to say.
We may not even be aware of it at the time. But the Holy Spirit usually taps me on the shoulder eventually and points out my less-than-stellar behaviour. We need to let go of our egos in these situations. Everyone makes mistakes. We all do, no one’s perfect.
Ephesians 4:2 says we need to exercise our patience (waiting without complaint and enduring discomfort) because of our love for each other. It seems everything comes back to love. We should do these things not only out of love, but because of love.
The next time you’re rushing to meet a deadline and your talkative colleague wants to tell you about their weekend, what will you do? Will you brush them off? And will you patiently wait for the lady at the grocery store while she runs out to the ATM outside?
We also need to be patient with ourselves, though. When you discover your own shortcomings or mistakes, don’t talk down to yourself. Be kind. Be gentle. Show yourself some love too. And endure the discomfort without complaint. Be patient.