"... and patience is better than pride." (v.8)
The fourth fruit of the Spirit is patience. The central meaning of this word (Greek: makrothumia) is "good temper." It denotes a person who does not easily "fly off the handle." He maintains good temper amid the flux and flow of human events.
One commentator says of this word: "This fourth fruit of the Spirit expresses the attitude to people which never loses patience with them, however unreasonable they may be, and never loses hope for them, however unlovely and unteachable they may be." Archbishop Trench defined the word as "a long holding out of the mind before it gives room to action or to passion, the self-restraint which does not hastily retaliate a wrong." And Moffatt describes it as "the tenacity with which faith
holds out."Good temper must not, however, be confused with apathy. In the days of the early Church, the group called the Stoics made indifference a virtue. They said: "Nothing is worth suffering for, so build a wall around your heart and keep out all sense of feeling." The early Christians did not share that view, however, for Christians care -- and because they cared, they suffered. Through the ministry of the Spirit in their lives, they found poise and good temper amidst their sufferings. The more we care, the more sensitive we will be to things that tend to block our goal of caring -- that is why the quality of patience is so essential. An evangelist addressing a meeting was subjected to persistent heckling. Unfortunately, he lost his temper -- and also his audience. They saw he had little to offer except words.
O Father, help me to become a person of good temper. Dwell deep in me so that I shall be the peaceful exception amid the disturbed surroundings that I encounter day by day. Amen.
For Further Study
1. What was the result of Moses' impatience?
2. What will be the result of our patience?