Summary: I cannot think of a virtue that is more desperately needed, or harder to produce in our lives, than patience.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE
We have been looking at the fruit of the Spirit as presented by the Apostle Paul in the 5th chapter of Galatians. He tells us that when we’re filled with the Holy Spirit we’ll evidence the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control."
PROP. Now we have already looked at the first three - love, joy, & peace. And this morning we’ll look at patience. I cannot think of a virtue that is more desperately needed, or harder to produce in our lives, than patience.
ILL. The story is told of a young Christian who went to an older Christian for help. "Will you please pray for me that I may be more patient?" he asked. So they knelt together & the old man began to pray. "Lord, send this young man tribulation in the morning; send this young man tribulation in the afternoon; send this young man..."
At that point the young Christian blurted out, "No, no, I didn’t ask you to pray for tribulation. I wanted you to pray for patience." "Ah," responded the wise old Christian, "it’s through tribulation that we learn patience."
I. WHAT IS PATIENCE?
Well, if that is so, maybe we ought to begin by asking the question, "What is patience?" Let me give you some definitions.
1. "Patience is self-restraint which does not hastily retaliate against a wrong." That’s pretty good. When someone does you a wrong, how do you respond - with patience or anger?
2. Here’s another: "Patience is the ability to accept delay or disappointment graciously." How do you deal with delay or disappointment? For some that’s really tough. Yet, patience is the ability to accept it without becoming upset.
3. Here’s another: "Patience is the powerful attribute that enables a man or woman to remain steadfast under strain - & continue pressing on."
Maybe that is where some of you are. You’re dealing with difficult circumstances. You’re a raising a child, or you’re caring for aging parents, or maybe you have a loved one who is ill & you’ve spent long hours at the hospital or nursing home. You’re weary, but patience is the quality that says, "This too, will pass. It’s almost over. I can keep on keeping on."
4. But here is my favorite definition: "Patience is a calm endurance based on the certain knowledge that God is in control."
ILL. The story is told of an artist who went to visit an old friend. When he arrived, she was weeping. He asked why. She showed him a beautiful handkerchief that had great sentimental value, but which had been ruined by a spot of indelible ink.
The artist asked her to let him have the handkerchief, which he returned to her by mail a few days later. When she opened the package she could hardly believe her eyes. The artist, using the inkblot as a base, had drawn on the handkerchief a design of great beauty. Now it was more beautiful & more valuable than ever.
APPL. Sometimes the tragedies that break our hearts can become the basis for a more beautiful design in our lives. Be patient with the hurts over which you have no control. In God’s hands they may even become a source of healing, help, & beauty.
II. IT IS DIFFICULT TO DEVELOP PATIENCE
Well, as desirable as patience may be, as the young Christian found out, it is not easy to develop patience.
A. For instance, I think developing patience is difficult because it goes against human nature. We aren’t born patient, are we?
ILL. When a baby wakes up in the middle of the night & is hungry, or its diaper is wet, it doesn’t lie there & think, "I know Mom & Dad are tired. So I’ll just wait until a more convenient time to let them know that I need something to eat or my diaper changed."
No! That baby cries impatiently & continues to cry until it receives the attention it demands. Children aren’t very patient. Have you ever traveled with a child? That can be quite an experience.
ILL. How about the little 4-year-old boy who was traveling with his mother & constantly asking the same question over & over again? "When are we going to get there? When are we going to get there?" Finally, the mother got so irritated that she said, "We still have 90 more miles to go. So don’t ask me again when we’re going to get there." Well, the boy was silent for a long time. Then he timidly asked, "Mom, will I still be four when we get there?"
B. Now here’s a second reason why developing patience is difficult. It’s because there are weeds of pride, selfishness & anger that can choke out the fruit of patience.