By Mark Mayberry
We speak of a “short-tempered” person, but unfortunately the English language does not have a corresponding term to describe a “long-tempered” person. However, in the New Testament Greek, one who is patient is literally “long tempered.” Patience is essential to our full development as Christians. It is characteristic of one who is filled with the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). How are we to demonstrate this quality?
First of all, it is an attitude expressed toward people. Paul said, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another with love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3). We should be patient with others even though they may be unreasonable at times. We bear with them in their faults and shortcomings. Patience produces an attitude of self-restraint which does not quickly retaliate for wrongs that are suffered. “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression” (Prov. 19:11). One whose temper is set on a hair-trigger destroys peace, but the patient man will smooth over problems. From time to time, problems will inevitably arise among brethren, but patience provides us with forbearance to endure such difficulties. It cements the bond of fellowship.
It is an attitude expressed toward events. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptation; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (Jas. 1:24). Life inevitably has its difficulties and trials. Patience enables us to stand up under pressure, and remain steadfast regardless of fife’s circumstances. At times our situation may seem dark and hopeless, but patience doesn’t admit defeat or throw up its hands in despair. It doesn’t become discouraged or bitter. It helps us react properly to the challenges of life.
The writer of Hebrews said, “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). Someone has called patience “the staying power of life.” It gives us the tenacity to see things through to the end. The wise man said, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit” (Eccl. 7:8). Christians must strive to develop this virtue in their lives.
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 20, p. 612
October 20, 1988