How to Develop Patience Toward Others

Girls arguing“Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.” (Proverbs 17:9)

What household doesn’t need to grow in the area of patience?

Ours does! It seems like home is the place where our patience is often most tried. Home is where we’re tempted to become careless. We live with people who love us. They’ll still love us, even when we annoy them, right? They’ll understand how tired we are when we make that rude remark, won’t they? It is easy to sin most against the people who love us most.

Is there any chance you and your children might have some room to grow in the area of patience?

Here’s a project to try out with your family:

  • Read Proverbs 17:9 together.
  • Read the verse in different translations.
  • Discuss the verse together. What does it mean to cover a transgression?
  • If you need help understanding the verse, read a reliable Bible commentary (see links at the end of this post).
  • Memorize the verse together.
  • Instead of growing angry, seeking revenge, or tattle-telling, a child many times simply needs to overlook a perceived wrong. For minor issues, teach your children to lovingly overlook them. (For major offenses, the offender will still need to be disciplined.)
  • Focus for a day (or week) on learning to cover the minor offenses of others.

For young children:

Instruct them to come to you (without responding in any way to the offender) when they believe they have been wronged.

Write their complaint down on a piece of paper. For your review at the end of the day, also record the name of the offender. You may need to talk with some of these “repeat offenders” at the end of the day.

On another piece of paper, write the word “love”. (This piece of paper can be cut in the shape of a heart if you like.)

Recite Proverbs 17:9 together. Cover the written complaint with the “love” paper. Discuss with your child the need to cover this offense with love. Can he overlook it? Can he be patient, realizing that the offender probably did not intentionally annoy or offend him?

Pray with the child, asking God to give him the grace to overlook the wrong. Send him back to the situation with instructions to not say any more about it.

Continue this process throughout the day until you believe your child is ready to overlook the offense without your help. Then instruct him to recite Proverbs 17:9 to himself and to pray to God for the grace to patiently overlook and forget the offense. He should not report his grievances to you.

At the end of the day, review the child’s complaints with him. Is he being easily provoked? Over-sensitive? Self-righteous? Pray for God’s work in his heart, and for strength to do better tomorrow.

For older children:

Instruct them to stop and recite Proverbs 17:9 when they believe they have been wronged. They should pray for God’s love and grace to overlook the offense. Discuss the day with them before bedtime. What did they learn about themselves? Are they being overly sensitive, critical, or easily irritated? Pray together for the grace to do even better tomorrow.

For the offenders:

Your review of the day may reveal that a particular child is constantly provoking others. Discuss the problem with that child, discipline him, and pray for God’s help to become more loving and considerate of others.

Recommended Commentaries:

  • includes many study tools that can help you.
  • Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible is a theologically sound commentary on every verse in the Bible. You can read Matthew Henry’s Commentaries online here.
  • The site also includes a condensed version of Matthew Henry’s commentary for quick reference.
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