A New Fruit?
This week I was reading Paul’s list of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. This has been repeated so often that many of us have it memorized. But as I read this familiar passage in the New International Version, one of the fruits was different. Where I expected to find ““love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control,” instead I found, “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.”
Somehow I had never noticed that before.
Where I expected to see “patience,” I found “forbearance” instead. I thought I understood what patience was, but what the heck is forbearance? Was King James wrong all these years? Is patience not a virtue?
I looked up forbearance so that I could understand why the translators thought this was a better word than patience.
And I think I agree.
I rather like this definition better.
Forbearance is patience, but not only patience. Forbearance is “patient self-control; restraint and tolerance.” The example given was “Her unfailing courtesy and forbearance under provocation” along with a legal definition that I also thought was as meaningful as it was powerful: “The action of refraining from exercising a legal right, especially enforcing the payment of a debt.”
That means, forbearance is if someone hits you, and you have every legal right to hit them back, but you don’t, when you have been wronged and you have the legal right to sue, but you don’t, or when you have the legal right to collect a debt, or to do anything else, but you don’t.
I think this is a fuller, deeper, powerful, and more meaningful definition that not only included everything that “patience” did, but expands on “patience” and makes it richer and more understandable at the same time.
May we not only have patience, but also forbearance.