An autistic person’s guide to the fruit of the Spirit
Part 4: Forbearance or patience
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Patience with others is love.
Patience with self is hope.
Patience with God is faith.
God demonstrates his patience for us: The whole Bible story is of God being patient with a fickle, sometimes downright disobedient people. Patience is, like the other fruit of the Holy Spirit, part of the nature of God. When we live by God’s Spirit within us we become more and more like God. Some English translations have forbearance instead of patience. God’s patience, the Holy Spirit’s patience is not ordinary patience, it is patience plus.
My patience is something other people struggle with. “You should be more patient,” they say. Coping with the modern world is difficult for autistic people. We learn to cope in many ways, but this is tiring. In getting to the place we meet I have already put up with my intolerance to bright light (bright fluorescent light is even worse), that there are other people talking nearby and I cannot switch off their conversations to concentrate on the one I am having, and so on. I have already endured more than a neurotypical person, then that neurotypical person accuses me of not being patient…
But that is not the patience spoken about here, although there are sermons I have read whilst preparing this which talk as if it is, that is an easy mistake to make. In my preparations, I found out that there are two Greek words that are translated as patience in English Bibles, hypomonē and makrothymia. Hypomonē is in Romans 5: where the Authorized version says ‘tribulation worketh patience.’ But that is not the Greek word used for a fruit of the Spirit— that is makrothymia. The NIV has hypomonē and makrothymia translated as perseverance and forbearance. Makrothymia, the patience of God that grows in us through the Holy Spirit is (I am not a Greek Scholar, this is second-hand information) means constancy, steadfastness, slowness in avenging wrongs.
A sign of God’s patience growing in our hearts is that we should become more tolerant of other people and less vengeful.