This week we are going to take up the subject of impatience and irritability. In order to do them both justice, I will look at impatience today and irritability in my next post in this series. Let’s start by defining impatience.
“A strong sense of annoyance at the (usually) unintentional faults and failures of others.”
Notice Jerry Bridges uses the word unintentional faults and failures. These are things that people cannot help given their life circumstances or physical limitations.
For example, if someone’s hearing is bad, we should expect to have to repeat ourselves, or that that they will misunderstand us. When those things occur, we should not become impatient.
There are other unintentional faults or failures that should not cause us to be impatient, but often do, such as:
- People not running on your time schedule.
- Traffic / Slow drivers.
- Parents impatient with their children not learning what they want them to learn quickly.
The Heart Sin Impatience Reveals
The sin of impatience reveals our desire to be in control by desiring others to conform to our expectations. If that is true, then the events in our lives are not necessarily the things that cause impatience, they are just the means by which the sin of control is manifested in our lives.
The Environment Conducive to Impatience
Impatience often, but not always, manifests itself in our homes. While it is easy for us to be patient with those in public places, it can be difficult at times to exercise the same patience with those under our own roof.
Why is this so?
Our homes provide us with a certain level of comfort. The environment and the people are not new to us. We know them and what they think about us. We don’t worry so much about our appearance or even winning them over. Our increased comfort often allows our true character to shine forth. This is why, like it or not, the home is a great place for sanctification.
What does Scripture have to say?
There are several scriptures that speak to impatience. Let’s take a look at them now.
1 Corinthians 13:4
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant”
1 Thessalonians 5:14
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,”
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”
Scripture reveals impatience is a sin. When we are impatient, we are not loving, we are not manifesting the Fruit of the Spirit, we are not living in a manner worthy of our calling, and we are not acting as God’s chosen ones.
How to Deal With Impatience
We can deal with the sin of impatience by praying the Lord would convict us and empower us to rid this sin from our lives.
In addition, when we sense ourselves growing impatient, we should preach the gospel to ourselves. Reminding ourselves, as Paul did Timothy, that in saving us God exercised His patience toward us (1 Timothy 1:16). If God, the Ruler of the universe, exercised patience towards us while we were rebelling against Him, then we can exercise patience toward someone who is not running on our schedule.
Moreover, we need to remind ourselves that God is the One who is in control. The circumstances that occur in our lives are sovereignly brought about and are used by Him to teach us and grow us, even the ones that might give us opportunity to become impatient.
Questions for Reflection
- In what area(s) of your life are you impatient?
- How have things gone when you have confronted someone who is impatient?
- How do you react when people are impatient with you? If you have reacted negatively, what was the result?
- Can you think of a reason why in God’s sovereignty He would allow you to encounter an impatient person?
 Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 116