Hearts of Patience

The word heart occurs over one thousand times in the Bible. It denotes a person’s center for physical, emotional, intellectual, and moral activities. Since this is “Heart” month, represented by the sending of Valentine Hearts to loved ones and close friends, I want to focus on the emotional, intellectual, and moral uses of the word. When used in relation to these three it represents sincerity. The Bible says, “Man looks on the outward appearance but the Lord looks on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)

In the February blogs of 2013, I presented three fruits of the Spirit as they relate to a sincere heart: Hearts of love, Hearts of Joy, and Hearts of Peace. Today, being Valentine’s Day, I want to focus on Hearts of Patience, which is another fruit of the Spirit.

You may have heard the expression, “God give me patience but I want it right now.” We all need patience especially as we relate to others. In the Scripture, James expresses the need for patience when we go through difficult times. “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3)

Giving a Valentine to your spouse or close friend is expressing your sincere love for that person, but often the one we love most is the one with whom we have less patience. I have noticed this when watching a parent trying to teach something to their own child. When it’s not going right they are less patient with their own child than they are with the neighbor’s child. The same is true between spouses and close friends. When angry, we will use harsh words that hurt deeply and words that we would never use with someone else. Being patient with your spouse or close friend enables you to “hold your tongue.”  But, when harsh words are said you think, “Oh my, I wish I hadn’t said that.”

The heart functions as the conscience. After David showed insubordination against King Saul by cutting off the corner of his robe, “He was stricken to the heart.” (I Samuel 24:5 NRSV)

The heart plans, makes commitments, and decides. “In the heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

The greatest commandment according to Jesus is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart.” (Matthew 22:37) Love here is more than emotion; it is a conscious commitment to the Lord. Jesus in His prayer expressed this to the Father, “...That love with which you loved Me may be in them...”  (John 17:26) It is sacrificial, unconditional love. The apostle Paul writes, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not envious...love endures all things, love never fails.”  (I Corinthians 13:4, 7, 8)