Monday, January 22, 2018

Patience and Kindness

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22–23).

There is one fruit of the Spirit, with many sides or dimensions. The first facet of this fruit that Paul mentions is love, and if we meditate on the list that follows, we can see that in one sense each virtue produces the next. Loving loyalty to God produces joy at God’s victory. This enables us to live at peace with other people, because we know how things will turn out in the end. Such peacefulness enables us to be patient.

Patience is also translated “long-suffering.” It has to do with our ability as Christians to endure with other people for the long haul. Our love for others is not just for a season, but carries through “for better and for worse, in sickness and in health.” It is this kind of patient long-suffering that works in us the virtue of true kindness.

The opposite of patient love is a spirit of resentment or revenge. Long-suffering bears the evils inflicted on us by others. It overcomes the natural inclination to retaliate. Vengeance in the sense of justice and vindication is not evil, because after all: “It is Mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. The same verse, however, tells us that we are not to take our own revenge (Romans 12:19). We are to be patient and wait upon the Lord.

A kind person does not have a short fuse. He does not have a chip on his shoulder. He does not get mad at little things. First Peter 4:8 says that love covers a multitude of sins, which means that the opposite of kindness is pettiness. Gross sins must be dealt with, but kindness overlooks little faults. Obviously such kindness comes from patience, not from wearing rose-colored glasses. We become kind when we realize that we are the objects of God’s kindness. God has been long-suffering and kind to us, and for that reason we are to be patient and forebearing with others.

We sometimes joke that someone is on a person’s blacklist. Perhaps you know someone whose lack of patience and kindness leads them to “keep score” in their relationships. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Evaluate your relationships. Discard any records you may be keeping on friends and family.