I read a short story about a teacher from back east somewhere. It was recess time and she had just finished putting on the last pair of boots on her first graders. There were 32 pairs in all. The last little girl she was helping remarked, “You know what, those aren’t my boots.”
Without any irritation, the teacher patiently untied them and took them off. She may have been trying figure out how to identify the correct boots when the little girl continued, “They are my sister’s boots. She let me wear them.”
Now about then, I might have started to show some frustration. But the teacher patiently put them back on her young student and sent her on her way. What a great example of patience!
Hudson Taylor once remarked that there are three indispensable requirements for a missionary: 1. Patience 2. Patience 3. Patience. Truth is, those three characteristics aren’t just indispensable for missionaries, they are essential for any believer.
True confessions, I am not a very patient person. And every time I try to use the Fruit of the Spirit list (Gal. 5:22-26) as a kind of spiritual evaluation of my walk, I only get to number four and I am in trouble. Number four is PATIENCE.
You see, my nature is to be active. My mind spins. I tend to be proud of my ability to do more than one thing at a time. Unfortunately, none of those qualities are spiritually noteworthy.
In contrast, when the Spirit of the Lord does have control over my day, I am more patient. I slow down and am more aware of people around me. I notice their needs more readily. I am positioned to respond.
Patience is the ability to say “no” to yourself and “yes” to someone else. It is a mindset that suggests a friend’s needs are more important than your own. Patience is that nanosecond that you wait before expressing your opinion or your preference or your desire.
So, let’s all dig in this week and focus on PATIENCE. Let’s remember Paul’s instruction: “Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2).
It’s not Christmas, and it might not be their birthday, but PATIENCE is a gift we give those around us!