Patience. Arrggh. This one’s a toughie. Get this: in some versions of the Bible, the actual word for patience in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit is translated as long-suffering. That to me is an accurate and spot-on description of what patience is: to suffer long. Think for a moment about how this doesn’t line up with the society we live in; patience isn’t even in our vocabulary:
We can hardly wait more than 5 minutes for our Big Mac and fries.
We can’t believe it when the pastor goes long in his Sunday morning sermon.
We bemoan how poor the wifi must be when a video takes a couple seconds or more to load on our phone.
All acts of impatience and all small reminders that we have A LOT to learn when it comes to following a Biblical pattern of patience.
Probably one of the most dangerous prayers we can pray, is to say “Lord, please grant me patience.” We know from experience that God readily answers that prayer; putting us in situations where we must wait and endure seasons of life which seem unbearable at times. From my own experience, having been on a journey through music, ministry and leaving a “normal vocation,” I have always wanted to circumvent the process. I’ve bucked patience. I’ve scoffed at the idea of long-suffering. I’ve been resistant to waiting on the Lord.
Maybe you can relate and maybe today, out of all the weeks about the fruit, this is the week you need to be here. What makes up our identity in Christ must include this trait; the one often least sought after and least desired. No one really likes to wait and if we are anything like our Biblical predecessors, we blow right through the signs God gives: wait, slow down, stop, be still. Patience is a virtue they say and none is as virtuous as Christ in His complete obedience to the Father’s will. Come, let’s take the journey today and learn from His example.
1. Jesus’ ministry exhibits patient endurance
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?" John 14:9
Looking at the interactions of Jesus with His disciples, Pharisees, and others, I stop and consider just how patient He must have been. I’m a dad of 4 boys and I can tell you, they daily exhaust my patience! I think of Jesus with those around Him not getting it, being oblivious at times, and other times foolishly rushing in and think somehow, He knows my pain! And actually, He knows my impatience in all of it as well. Jesus’ life must have been marked by patience and persistence; He did not take things by force and He did not falter based upon the short-comings of others around Him.
This exchange with Philip in John 14 comes towards the end of Jesus’ ministry before going to the cross. Jesus is saying He is “the way, the truth, and the life” and He is the access to the Father. It’s almost comical, but Philip responds “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us (vs. 8)” Ummm….Jesus just told you who He is. He is the representation of the Father. He is God in human flesh. Do you still not get this, Philip? This is a real interaction of Jesus showing patience, showing love, and being able to not lose it when people still do not understand. It begs the question, are we able to do the same in our lives?
2. Jesus’ work of salvation is a work of patience
Humility and patience are the surest proofs of the increase of love. John Wesley
As we start closing in on Holy Week and retracing the steps of Christ through the cross and the grave, we see a man whose life was marked by patience. He is the suffering Savior. He is a man of sorrows, acquainted with our grief. Yet He could have done things so much differently if He had chosen to. Why 30 years of preparation, 3 years of ministry, and then suffer a brutal death meant for a criminal? Why not just skip all the bad stuff, all the hard stuff, and get to the good stuff? Because Jesus wanted to model patience to us so that we would follow His example.
The very act of crucifixion itself was a path of patience Jesus had to endure. The scourging by Roman soldiers. The arduous journey of carrying His cross to Golgotha. The nails going into His feet and wrists. The hours of agony, slowly expiring due to suffocation. Not a quick death. Not a short passage. But in it, Jesus models the ultimate act of patience and long-suffering; enduring to the end knowing that this was the will of the Father. Jesus is the perfect picture of what it means to endure.
3. We must follow in the patient steps of Jesus
So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9
In trials and tribulations, we often overlook the process of what is going on inside of us favoring instead a quick end to our woes. If for nothing else, patience is a faith-builder. It is an exercise in trust, believing that God’s ultimate end for our lives is somehow good and right. If we are patient, we are willing to lay aside momentary desires and longings for the greater desire, the higher calling. Patience refines us, purifies us, and sanctifies perhaps more than any other fruit in the list. And if we submit to the Lord’s plan and timetable, the fruit we bear will be marked by patience.
We truly bear fruit and show maturation in Christ when we start to look at the difficulties in our lives and the periods of waiting not as curses, but as blessings. As every fruit has shown so far, these outward manifestations tell a non-believing world about Jesus. He is glorified through your patient endurance of pain. He is magnified when you take the high moral ground, refusing to compromise for a quick-fix. He is on full display when you decide to wait for the right one and stay pure. Patience marked by an enduring Savior who knows that when we wait, good things are in store. He doesn’t make us wait because He is a cruel God. He makes us wait because He is good.
It has been my complete joy to start this series on the fruit of Spirit. It has been a lot to cover each week and personally, I have been digging in with renewed fervor and anticipation through what God would be saying; both to myself and you the reader. It is here, however, that I want to pause and rather than going all 9 weeks straight through the fruit, we will come back to it this fall. I know that’s a bit of a break but I also know this gives us time to think about these things and allow love, joy, peace, and patience to be bites we can digest at this moment in time.
Guys, it’s so good to be diving into this content from week to week. It’s emotionally a lot for me and most weeks, I’m a mess by the time I’m done typing considering all that Christ has done for me. This week is particularly poignant as I consider my impulsiveness and tendency to charge ahead, knowing God has a much different plan than I do. His plan involves patience, trusting Him with the journey, and being willing to lay aside my own wants for what He wants. I’m still learning that everyday. I trust that you are as well.
I can’t wait to switch gears for a bit here and then revisit the rest of the fruit later on in 2019. Love you guys!
As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. Luke 8:15