I couldn't take my actions back. A woman had parked her car and blocked my way of getting to the gas pump. She hopped out to drop off some recycling items, and I didn't feel like waiting, so I honked my horn at her. Irritated, I put my car in reverse and drove around another way. I immediately felt bad about being impatient and unwilling to wait 30 seconds (at the most) for her to move. I apologized to God. Yes, she should have parked in the designated area, but I could have spread kindness and patience instead of harshness. Unfortunately it was too late to apologize to her—she was gone.
Many of the Proverbs challenge us to think about how to respond when people get in the way of our plans. There’s the one that says, “Fools show their annoyance at once” (Prov. 12:16). And “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel” (20:3). Then there’s this one that goes straight to the heart: “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end” (29:11).
Growing in patience and kindness seems pretty difficult sometimes. But the apostle Paul says it is the work of God, the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22-23). As we cooperate with Him and depend on Him, He produces that fruit in us. Please change us, Lord.
Make me a gentle person, Lord. One who doesn’t quickly react in frustration to every annoyance that comes my way. Give me a spirit of self-control and patience.
To study more about the fruit of the Spirit, read the Discovery Series booklet Live Free by Constantine Campbell.
God tests our patience to enlarge our hearts.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul makes fourteen references to the Holy Spirit. Believers receive the Holy Spirit through faith the moment they believe (3:2–3, 5, 14). Believers are born of the Spirit (4:29), which qualifies them to call God “Abba, Father” (4:6). In today’s passage Paul warns that the flesh continues to resist the indwelling Spirit (5:17), but the key to victory is to walk in (or by) the Spirit (vv. 16, 25). Only in this way can a believer overcome the limitations of the flesh and live in a way that pleases God.