Impatience is probably my most frequent sin. It leads to anger and unkindness towards others. I was reminded of this the other day when there was a gas shortage. I was at home and I jumped on Facebook and on our neighborhood page they were asking if anyone knew where there was gas. What? The gas stations are out of gas? It was because of the Colonial Pipeline being hacked. I'm the girl that gets stressed if my gas tank gets below a quarter of a tank. But the last three times I drove my car I was in a hurry to run an errand, I had other people in the car and didn't want to stop for gas, and I had taken the dog to the vet and they took longer than I had hoped and I needed to get the dog home so I could go somewhere else. I knew I was low on gas. My husband was about to go out of town and I didn't want to be stuck here without gas. I jumped in the car, noted I was 58 miles to empty and headed out. As I drove I prayed "God, please help me find gas." I take to heart Philippians 4:6: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
After going to four gas stations and they were out of gas, I was thrilled to see the fifth one had gas! I got in line.
Someone was trying to cut in line and I honked. Nothing infuriates me more than line cutters! Wait your turn like everyone else. The car in front of me finally gets up to the pump and the woman gets out and heads in the gas station! Why wasn't she paying with her credit card? I knew she would have to wait in line inside. I loudly made a comment (my window was down) and threw my hands up in the air in disgust. I get up to the pump and the gas very slowly came out. I filled up to 420 miles to empty. And I felt quite pleased with myself for having found gas.
On the news I hear 71% of the Charlotte gas stations are out of gas. They interview a lawn man who can't find gas and can't do his job without it. They interview people who need gas to get to work. I feel guilty for filling up the tank. I should have only got half a tank which would have tided me over until we got more gas in this area. I feel guilty about throwing my arms up when that woman in front of me walked into the gas station. Convicted of selfishness. Apparently I think my time is more important than others.
Scripture has a lot to say about this kind of behavior.
Mark 12:31: ... ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ..."
Leviticus 19:18: ... "you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD"
1 Corinthians 13:4,5: Love is patient,... does not act unbecomingly;...
Romans 12:10: ... Honor one another above yourselves.
Philippians 2:3-4 Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.
I'm sitting here thinking of all the times I wait in line and huff and puff and roll my eyes and make snide comments. After years of War-Mart driving me nuts, I've learned to pray before I enter. 'Lord, please give me patience as I shop there.' It helps me to get in the right frame of mind before I go in and interact with others.
Patience is a godly attribute. Years ago I didn't think a thing about my unkind behavior. Now I walk out of the grocery store after being rude to someone and I am convicted and immediately ask the Lord to forgive me. I think He is making some progress with me. Am I more patient than I was ten years ago? I am. I'm slowly being transformed.
The other thing is people who don't follow the rules drive me nuts. I have no patience for them. I remember decades ago someone and I had tickets to a comedy show. We were at the end of the line to go in and when the doors opened, the person I was with walked up front to cut in line to get a good seat. I didn't move. They finally came back to me and words flew. I was told I was such a "rule follower." I am. I always have been. I remember the incident very well because the other person and I fought over it and our night was ruined.
A couple years ago my women's group was studying the Promised Land and how God put His people right there on the Via Maris trade route so that they could witness to the world. As part of the study I gave each woman a pair of heart shaped sunglasses. We called them our "love glasses." Each week we put them on and brainstormed how we can be witnesses for Christ in our daily life. One week it was when we are driving - following the traffic laws, being patient,... The next week it was social media - being truthful and kind, pray before you respond when necessary,... Etc. We talked about that person cutting you off in traffic might have just found out their spouse has cancer or that their mother died or that they lost their job. I have a dear friend that whenever someone says something negative about someone, she always says something like, "She might be having a hard time right now." She constantly reminds people to give others grace; to have compassion on them. She's right you know. We don't know another person's story. We don't know what is going on with them. We need to assume they need our kindness.
We are witnesses of Christ in all we do. God put that person in front of you for a reason. Somehow your interaction with them matters. Our lives are intertwined with everyone we come in contact. An impatient selfish person is not a good witness of the joy and hope we possess. I've really taken that lesson to heart and when I am a poor witness I feel heartbroken.
We either witness His love to others or we don't.
The Holy Spirit resides in each believer. And when we yield to the Spirit and walk with Him, we should exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
See the "patience" there? See the "kindness" there? See the "love" there?
We all have a sphere of influence. It's not a coincidence you are right where you are at any given moment. Something as minor as waiting in line patiently can be used to show the world the Lord's love.
What will we do with each moment we are given?
"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”