“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience . . . ”, ah, yes, patience. (Galatians 5:22-23) But what is meant by patience? The Apostle Paul used the Greek word makrothumia, which means “long-tempered” or “slow to express explosive anger.” Let’s replace patience with forbearance, the word that the NIV uses. Websters’ Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines it as “holding oneself back from something,” like lashing out in anger, “especially with an effort of self restraint.” See why I prefer forbearance?
What is important is that we learn how to put it into practice. Galatians 5:16 says, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Jesus said “Abide in Me . . . He who abides in Me bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5) We walk in the Spirit and abide in Christ, by spending time with Him daily in prayer and in His Word. There is no other way to bear fruit! If we want to be like Him, we must spend real time with Him, sharing our real problems with Him.
What are some of the things that make you angry? May I encourage you to tell them to Jesus? He knows and understands you better than anyone because He made you. If coffee with a friend can sooth our souls, imagine what some quality time with the Lover of our souls could do!
Is exhaustion a source of your anger? Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.“ He is our Wonderful Counselor, and He can handle our anger, and whatever else we throw at Him. We don’t scare Him. He’s crazy about us and nothing we do could ever change that!
I encourage you to memorize Colossians 3:12-17, and to pray through it whenever the firestorms of anger begin to rise in you.
- Put on tender mercies: kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering/forbearance (makrothumia). Clothe yourself with these daily in prayer.
- Bear with each other and forgive each other because Christ forgave us! Unforgiveness is the source of much bitterness and anger. Forgive as an act of your will. Tell the Lord in prayer that you forgive the one who wronged you. You don’t have to agree with them! You just have to forgive them!
- Most importantly, put on LOVE! Love bonds us together in unity. Love is a VERB! Our desire should be to speak the truth in love, without anger, and to serve others through love.
- Let the Peace of God RULE in your hearts. The idea is to let God’s peace be the referee in our hearts, the seat of our emotions. We can choose to be at peace even in the midst of turmoil!
- Dwell on God’s Word and sing praises to Him! Praise is powerful because it invites God in, and it is a balm to our hurting hearts.
- And WHATEVER you do, do ALL in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Ask yourself? Can I do this in Jesus Name? Can I yell at a family member or colleague in Jesus Name? How can I deal with my anger in a way that pleases Him?
2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all!
About the Writer:
Tiffany is a cross-cultural missionary, Bible teacher, speaker, writer, and worship leader. More than anything, she desires to be one ‘who like a tree planted by the rivers of water, brings forth its fruit in due season, whose leaves do not wither, and have whatever she does prosper’(Psalm 1:3). She is committed to abiding continually in Christ, the vine, so that she may bear much fruit in, and for Him (John 15:5).