But the fruit of the Spirit is . . . patience. (v. 22)
No one advertises a smartphone, computer, or tablet as “nice and slow.” Each new technological gadget is faster than the last. Our sense of what is “slow” and what is “fast” gets pretty warped as a result. When we catch ourselves sighing impatiently at a website that takes a few seconds to load, or when we hurriedly tap our feet as we wait in line, we are confronted with just how much we prefer our own pace to the unpredictable pace set for us by external circumstances.
Thankfully, the Spirit grants us the fruit of patience, which can recalibrate our sense of time. Patience, or “forbearance” as it is sometimes translated, allows us not only to tolerate a pace we don’t get to set—not just find it bearable—but also to find true gladness in it. Patience acclimates us to a pace that allows us to tend to the needs of others instead of following our own agenda.
An older translation of patience in this verse is “longsuffering” (KJV). Patience teaches us to put up with things that would otherwise test our limits. There will always be things (and people) that “try our patience,” but the patience God cultivates in us allows us to endure in ways we might not have thought we could. God’s own longsuffering nature gives us a model to emulate. If there is someone in your life whose patience is being tried right now, consider how your gift of patience might help ease that burden.
Set our pace according to your timing, Lord.