We are spending time looking at the fruit of the Holy Spirit - nine characteristics in the ONE FRUIT - and today we come to Patience – or longsuffering. We have been reading of what has to be removed - and weeded out - and then what is to be encouraged and cultivated.
Remember these words of Jesus in John 15 - "Apart from me you can do nothing."
He is the vine - we are the branches - if you are apart from ME - severed from ME - wandering away from ME - you can do nothing - strong challenging words indeed.
But what does Jesus mean - because you can do things without Jesus. We have to admit that - but we can do nothing spiritually significant and spiritual vital - unless we are united with JESUS.
When I typed this, I typed UNTIED instead of UNITED. That is what Jesus is meaning - if we are not tied to HIM - united with HIM we will not be able to accomplish anything spiritually significant.
When we come to Jesus - when we are born again - when Jesus anoints us with the Holy Spirit - God the Holy Spirit begins to grow this fruit within us - fruit should begin to appear - Love - Joy - Peace - and today we come to PATIENCE.
These are immense topics Paul is dealing with in this one brief sentence.
Patience means - having a good temper – someone who has cultivated self-control - someone who does not fly off the handle at the least little thing - someone who does not easily lose their cool. Temper means 'a disposition of mind'.
It is the quality of maintaining an even temper - in the midst of all that is going on - and, doesn't God give us so many opportunities to display this fruit in our shop window.
We have to be very careful about speaking about the fruit of the Spirit.
Someone may come along asking for - wanting - some Love - Joy - Peace - Patience - expecting us to listen patiently and lovingly and minister with joyful patience - and we may have to say - "I'm sorry I'm right out of Love and Joy and Peace and Patience just now. I've got some on order - just waiting for it to come in on the next delivery.
We have to be careful as to what we place in our shop window.
Patience or longsuffering includes - steadfastness - and faithfulness - enduring trouble. Amidst all the suffering which the early church faced, they displayed such patience.
Think of Paul and Silas in prison for their faith in Jesus - in prison as a consequence of their ministry in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 16 verse 25. At midnight they are praising God. Now that is not easy. Amidst all the sufferings of that dark dank dungeon Paul and Silas are singing praises to God. "Lord, the light of your love is shining - Exalt the Lord our God - Crown Him with many crowns - Praise ye the Lord for it is good….."
We must never confuse Patience with apathy - or indifference.
We can meet people who just put up with their situation. I'll sit here until things get a little better. I'll just wait until this goes away or blows over. That is not Patience.
Jesus was always in perfect control of His temper, and yet He became angry on various occasions, but it was under perfect control.
In Mark 3 verse 5 - Jesus Christ was angry. What cause Him to become angry? - The stubborn hearts of religious people in the synagogue, who were going to accuse Him for healing on the Sabbath. There is nothing wrong with becoming angry, but we do have to examine and analyse what might make us angry.
Sometimes it is wrong to be angry - sometimes it is right to become angry.
There is that amazing scene in John 2 - where Jesus Christ is righteously angry. Can you imagine Jesus taking time to make that whip of cords? Can you imagine someone going over to Jesus as He was patiently weaving the cords together - and asking - "Jesus, what are You doing?" "You just watch - just wait a couple of minutes and watch!" Then, Jesus acted - revealing anger under perfect control. And God the Father includes that scenario in the Book.
Jesus was angry at what was going on in the place of prayer, and what was not going on in the place of prayer.
What makes you angry? Really angry? What makes you rise up in anger? One thing that makes me angry are the adverts for alcohol - they never show you the other side - the disastrous consequences.
Turn to Ephesians 5 verses 18 - 20. “Be filled with the Spirit….always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.” People who cease to give thanks move out of the Will of God.
There are times when we have to say - "Thank You Lord Jesus for this painful confrontation - but I see You are giving me the opportunity to manifest patience.
(There are some African languages where there is no word for THANKS.)
There was a coal miner who was notorious for his bad temper and bad reaction. His job in the pit was to look after the pit ponies. Whenever they did anything wrong he would curse and swear and lash out at them with a pole or shovel. When he behaved like this even strong miners would steer clear for they knew he could easily turn on men as well as ponies. When a man is out of sorts with someone, he is usually out of sorts with himself, and often he tries to sort someone else out.
One night this coal miner went to a meeting and met Jesus Christ in a glorious way. The next morning a pit pony trod on his foot. The men working alongside held their breath - waiting for an explosion. Nothing happened. One miner dared to ask - "Are you sick?" "Why do you ask?" "Well, we know how quickly you can get upset about things - and we saw that pony stand on your foot - and you didn't lose your temper."
"No - I'm not unwell - I'm not sick - I got saved and filled with the Holy Spirit last night!
Already he was growing a little PATIENCE - and it was showing.
He was anointed and it showed.
The law produces no spiritual fruit. People have noticed over the years, that when a man meets Jesus Christ, a bad temper is often replaced by a growing sense of humour.
There are some people you meet - I think of one man of whom it was said - "You could not be dull even if you tried!"
Patience - steadfastness – enduring. In Christian Counselling, many who come, come with fears or guilt or apprehension. When invited and encouraged to share, they do, and after a while there can be a releasing and laughter.
What makes you angry is important - but so is what makes you LAUGH.
Hebrews 1 verse 9 - Jesus Christ was anointed with the oil of JOY more than anyone else. There is a reason for it - because Jesus loved righteousness and hated wickedness - and as we love righteousness and hate wickedness more and more, the more JOY we will display, and the more patience we will have.
Yes, be careful, as a disciple of Jesus, as to what you place in your shop window!
“Gracious Father, help me, enable me to become a person who has a good temper; someone in whose life patience is developing and growing. When I am in disturbing surroundings let me display peace and patience, as well as light and love.” Amen.
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