Youth practicing patience as they work together on this team-building element called “alligator crossing” that they built for the low-ropes course at Pilgrim Pines Camp during their mission trip.


The Wednesday Word Devotional for June 21, 2023.

By Julie Hart, Director of Connectional Ministries

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, FORBEARANCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

This is week four of the Fruit of the Spirit series of devotionals — forbearance. I have taken this scripture from the Common English Bible translation. Other translations use words like patience and long-suffering. So just what exactly are we supposed to be striving for?

I have often said that I do not pray for patience because I do not wish for my patience to be tested. I don’t generally start my day praying for suffering. And I can’t say that forbearance is a word that is in my daily vocabulary. So, I had to take a moment to contemplate this part of the Fruit of the Spirit this week. And, after much thought and even some discussion with some friends, I came to the conclusion that what Paul is talking about here is not the ability to wait for something, but how we conduct ourselves while we are waiting. I believe that in this scripture, Paul is pointing us towards grace in all circumstances, and with all people.

In the financial world, forbearance means to put off payment without a debt or penalty being attached. I mean, that’s kind of what God does for us every day right? As Christians, we are commanded to go and make disciples. And making disciples requires us to put others before ourselves, be in service to others, and to love all (yes ALL) others. And, if you are like me, maybe you don’t always get that right every day. Maybe you get frustrated with difficult people, maybe you hold onto grudges from past hurts a little too long, or maybe you look to “even the score” rather than to let something go.

Two of my friends pointed out that I actually have a lot of patience for young people. I have spent 13 years in youth ministry and over 25 years serving at children and youth camps. People have often asked me how I have the patience to work with adolescents. It has always been a simple answer for me — because I know that the pre-frontal cortex of their brains has not fully developed. They are still living in the amygdala part of their brain, so their decisions are made based on their emotions. The prefrontal cortex is where judgment lives, and that part of their brains is still under construction. That scientific fact allows me to extend extra grace and tolerance when they make poor choices.

The truth of the matter is, we don’t always know what’s going on in a person’s brain or heart when they act out. If we knew that the driver who cut us off in traffic just lost her job, or the friend that yelled at us had just received a frightening diagnosis, or the co-worker that snapped at us in the break room had just been served divorce papers, maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to extend grace.

I have come to the conclusion that maybe I do need to start praying for patience, long-suffering, and forbearance because most days will probably bring me into contact with someone in desperate need of being shown love, even when they aren’t acting so lovable. You know, kind of like the love that God shows to us each day — even (and especially) on our bad days.

God bless,

julie 🙂