Friday Focus – Forbearance

We continue our series on “the fruits of the spirit” by looking at “Forbearance”.

Ephesians 4:1-3: I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Colossians 3:12-14:  Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Many years ago, I went Ice Skating.  For those not blessed with the balance and grace of Torvil and Dean (I’m more like Bambi on ice myself) the process is you swap your shoes for skates at the counter then swap the skates back for your shoes once you’re finished.

I had a great night, only fell once and that was because I got clipped by a speeding teenager who at least stopped and apologised.  I got off the ice, wobbled over to the skate hire counter, removed my skates and handed them in to the guy stood there.  The guy disappeared into a long row of shelves and came back with a pair of child-sized pink and white trainers with sequins.

“They’re not mine”, I said.

“Are you sure?”, the guy said

I am a 5’10 adult male.  “Yes I said.”

He disappeared into the shelving and came back with a pair of enormous black shoes.  They were like canoes – I could have paddled along the Medway in them

“They’re not mine either”, I said.

By this point, there was a bit of huffing and puffing, tutting and glaring from the long queue now forming behind me.  As the queue got longer, my anxiety got bigger.

“What do yours look like?”, the guy asked.

“Brown suede, size 10”, I said.

“Bear with me”, he said, before disappearing for what seemed like an age, back to the shelves.  Behind me, people craned their necks to see what the delay was but all I could do was to be patient.

Eventually, the guy came back with my shoes, much to the relief of everyone.

I had no choice but to bear with the guy behind the counter, but in a lot of situations we do have a choice.  We can choose to vent our anger, bang our fists on the counter and let it be known how bad we feel.  Or you can choose to stay calm and bear with things, hoping, though with no guarantees, that things are going to be resolved.

In our bible readings today, the apostle Paul in his letters to the churches at Ephesus and Colossus implores the recipients to bear with one another, with love and forgiveness.  It can be hard to be patient when things go wrong, but Paul’s advice is absolutely the right thing to do.  By not making a fuss at the ice rink, the guy behind the counter would at worst have felt a little short-term embarrassment.  If I’d raised a stink, I could have made him really upset.  If his boss had heard something like that in the context of the restless queue of unhappy people behind me he could have lost his job.  Patience is inconvenient, especially in the fast-moving, instant-gratification society we live in.  But if we can do our bit to bring patience, bearing the fruit of forbearance in love, we can make a small part of the world a better place.


Let’s pray.


We ask that you remind us about the fruit of forbearance when things don’t go our way.  Help us to bear with one another in love, being patient and kind.  Forgiving those who struggle or refuse to give us what we want or expect.  Bring peace and kindness as we try to be your hands in the world we inhabit.


Have a blessed week.

Written by Mark Rigby, an elder at Christ Church URC Tonbridge and a Southern synod-accredited lay preacher