DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: Is impatience a sin? If so I’m in deep trouble, because I’m not a patient person. It’s probably one reason why my first marriage went down the drain. I know I need to change, but I’m not sure I can. I guess it’s just the way I’m made. — N.H.
DEAR N.H.: Occasionally, impatience can be a good thing — for example, when we’re impatient over injustice or wrongdoing. Sometimes I’ve been impatient with myself, because I’ve allowed myself to become lazy or distracted, and I know I shouldn’t have done so.
But usually impatience is a bad thing, because it gets us into trouble and hurts our relationships. Think back for a moment: Have you ever had to deal with an impatient person, someone who was constantly getting after you because you weren’t doing things their way, or nagging you because you weren’t measuring up to their expectations? If so, you probably reacted in a negative way, and you certainly didn’t want the person as a friend.
The real issue, however, is that impatience is the fruit of a far more serious problem: selfishness. We get impatient because we want things done our way, and we want everyone else to fit in with our plans.
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Then impatience becomes sinful, and often gives birth to a host of other sins. The Bible says, “The acts of the flesh are obvious … hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy” (Galatians 5:19-21).
Don’t excuse your impatience or assume you’ll always be this way. Instead, turn to Christ and ask him to come into your life. He can take away your selfish spirit and replace it with his love. Then you’ll discover what it means to be “completely humble and gentle … patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).
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