THE WORD: Patience in all things

PHOTO CAPTION: “Sacrifice of Isaac” (cir. 1603) is a painting by Caravaggio depicting Abraham’s attempt to sacrifice his son Isaac after God commanded it. Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy (Public Domain)

Patience, the fourth Fruit of the Spirit, is often translated as “longsuffering” — as it is in the King James version. Patience, in the context of Galatians, means more than waiting. Longsuffering, as used in Exodus, means slow to anger and rich in kindness. Patience is also expressed as “forbearing” in Proverbs, meaning to persevere through hard times or delays. Abraham, Joseph and Job are Biblical examples of longsuffering or forbearing. This same patience is exhibited by Christ in Matthew 5 when he says to turn the other cheek rather than take an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

The Fruit of the Spirit shows us that patience is a strength, endowed upon us by the Holy Spirit. Losing patience — seeking revenge, striking out in anger — are signs of weakness. Galatians 5 tells us that there is no law against exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit. But, there are clearly laws against the opposites of these holy virtues. A loss of patience can result in criminal sanctions but also violations of social contracts or loss of friendships.


15 By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.