For the last few days, we have been looking at the FRUIT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. We have been focusing on Galatians 5:22…But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
We’re not speaking of spiritual apples, grapes, pears, or peaches here. We’re talking about what’s going on in the orchard of your life. We acknowledged that we are all sinful and fall short…. And we celebrate the fact that God loves us anyway! “Christian character” follows faith and is produced by the Holy Spirit…not by merely trying to live by the law. The indwelling Holy Spirit produces faith and Christian virtues. If the goal of the Christian life may be stated as Christlikeness, then surely every trait developed in us that reflects His character must be fruit that is very pleasing to Him. Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit in nine terms. I am going to take each of these characteristics one per day. So far, we have looked at LOVE, JOY and PEACE.
Today we will look at PATIENCE! I find it interesting that as God lists the fruit of the Spirit…He makes us wait to get to patience.
When I have talked with new members in our “Life with God” sessions over the years, I hear that patience is one of their biggest struggles. I must confess that I struggle with this one as well.
It’s not an excuse but the world that we live in doesn’t help:
- Because of our impatience…we invented microwave meals!!
- Faster and faster computer speeds. (we feel that we need to call a repairman if we have to wait 2 seconds for our computer to respond to our keystroke.)
- We have Minute rice…instant coffee…fast food, etc.
- We looked at LOVE 2 weeks ago, well, 1 Corinthians says that “Love is PATIENT”
- Throughout the Bible we see people having to wait.
- Noah waited 120 years for the flood!
- Moses and the people wandered 40 years before entering the promised land!
- Abraham waited for a son, Jacob waited for Rachel, Joseph waited in jail, mankind is waiting for the Savior to return. (how many more can you come up with?)
One Sunday morning a pastor’s wife was teaching her class of small girls the subject of patience. She asked, “What is patience?” One little girl raised her hand and said, “Patience is when you are sitting in church and the preacher is preaching. You’re just sitting there, and he is preaching. He keeps preaching and you keep sitting there. That’s patience.”
OK…One more funny one!
A couple with three children waited in line at San Francisco’s Pier 41 to purchase tickets for a boat trip to Alcatraz. Others watched with varying degrees of sympathy and irritation as the young children fidgeted, whined, and punched one another. The frazzled parents reprimanded them to no avail. Finally, they reached the ticket window. “Five tickets, please,” the father said. “Two round trip, three one way.”
I heard it said that…Patience is letting your motor idle while you want to burn rubber!…..We find ourselves saying “Lord…give me patience…and hurry up!”
So…We understand having patience as we wait at the grocery store checkout…or the drive through at Starbucks….but what are some situations that we need the Holy Spirit to fill us with PATIENCE?
- The chemo to do its thing!
- My job to resume…or business to reopen!
- For live church and small groups to resume!
- For my marriage to get healthy again!
- For the Lord to call me home…and Him to return!
- What situation do you need GOD’S PATIENCE____________?
I saw a sermon by James Merritt that looked at 3 areas of patience, I want to share them (and some of his thoughts) with you:
I. A Patience with Difficult People. We all have been there! I call them the EGR (Extra Grace Required) people! They can test our patience.
James 5:7-8…”Therefore, be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the lord is at hand.” The word patient is the same word sometimes used for longsuffering. In this section…James illustrates patience with the picture of a farmer.
A farmer plants, weeds, waters, cultivates. Every day he does two things: he watches, and he waits. Because he knows that you cannot hurry the harvest, but he also knows that the harvest will come in due time.
II. A Patience with Demanding Problems. God tells us that “in this world you will have troubles.” We face many problems in our daily lives…and many more due to this pandemic.
James 5:10-11…”My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed, we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”
Now why does he mention Job? Well, think about what Job faced. First of all, he faced destitution. He lost everything that he owned. Then he faced death. His children and grandchildren were wiped out. Then he faced disease. He was covered with terrible sores and boils. Then he faced desertion. Even his own wife basically turned her back on him. Just like Job, every one of us are going to face demanding problems. Just as you cannot hide from difficult people, you cannot run from demanding problems. Now understand that problems are not meant to defeat you, nor are they meant to depress you, nor are they meant to discourage you. They are meant to develop you. Problems are not tools to tear you down, they are tests to build you up.
III. A Patience with a Definite Purpose.
Now why does God allow difficult people and demanding problems into our lives? It is to develop maturity. James 1:3-4…”knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
The word for complete here means mature. God’s goal for you is maturity, and patience may be a bitter plant, but it always bears sweet fruit. For full- blown patience makes for a full-grown Christian. Troubles and troublemakers are in your life to develop longsuffering, and you will never graduate to maturity until you go to the school of hard knocks and learn the discipline of longsuffering, which is patience, perseverance, and persistence.
So….You see, it is by patience that we see God’s work in us, and it is by perseverance we learn God’s will for us.
So…when you are feeling impatient…ask God to slow you down…to trust in His timing…to focus on … Isaiah 40:31…”Those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
This was a long devotion but if you want one more funny illustration:
This first grade teacher, and her class of thirty-two first graders, had watched it rain all day long. The last bell had rung, it was time to go home, and this teacher began putting galoshes on all thirty-two of those first graders.
She came to the last little girl and she was so excited that she was about finished with this dirty chore, and she began to put the galoshes on this little girl, and they were unusually tight. She struggled, she strained, she pulled, she tugged, she grunted, she groaned, and finally got the galoshes on that last little girl. Just as she finished snapping them into place, the little girl said: “You know what teacher? These aren’t my galoshes.”
The teacher couldn’t believe it. She struggled, she strained, she pulled, she tugged, she grunted, she groaned, until glistening with sweat, she finally yanked the galoshes off those little girl’s feet. Just at the moment she finally snapped them off, the little girl looked up at her and said: “They’re my sisters and she lets me wear them.”