This past Sunday’s sermon addressed patience as a fruit of the Spirit we are called to bear as Christians. Specifically, the patience we need to have is makrothumia, which literally means long-tempered (as opposed to short-tempered). When Paul wrote about this kind of patience, he was speaking about the patience we need to have with one another in the church. This kind of patience is self-restraint; you have every right to be frustrated and angry, but you choose not to do so instead you make allowances for others’ shortcomings. Hopefully, they do the same for us as they, too, bear the fruit of patience.
If we bear with one another – fully accepting each other with all our flaws and weaknesses and allowing each other grace and worth – then we will be able to maintain unity within the church, says Paul. In the fourth chapter of Ephesians Paul wrote the following:
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”
We are one in Christ and yet we often come to church and split over one thing or another – often minor things. We get upset or our feelings get hurt so we just leave. We don’t like the way things are going in worship so we just leave. We don’t like the hymns or praise songs being sung, so we just quit. The pastor doesn’t visit enough so we’ll just stay home. We disagree with the church’s position on an issue, so we quit coming and quit giving. And on and on I could go naming things that seem to divide the church rather than maintain unity.
Seems like we could all be a little more patient with each other, doesn’t it? Maybe we should talk with each other rather than just leave over some dispute or because we didn’t get our way or because our feelings got hurt. Let’s bear with one another in love. We will still have disagreements, we will still sing some hymns not everyone likes, the pastor still won’t do everything the way you think it ought to be done, and we are still called to maintain unity by patiently loving each other.
Let’s make certain we are wearing the clothing of patience when we venture to church next Sunday.