Summary: Jesus invitation is not "Try Harder" - it is come to me and I will help you be patient, kind and good. (Pt2 Signs of Life)
SIGNS OF LIFE – THE MARKS OF VIBRANT LIVING
Part 2 “Patience, Kindness, Goodness” (Galatians 5:22-25)
Believers are “...aliens in this world.” (1 Peter 2:11). The Bible tells us that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Believers have become citizens of heaven, not Australia. We look the same – but we’re unlike citizens of the world. But there is one way we can tell a citizen of heaven from a citizen of the world – it’s by the fruit produced in a Believers life.
The fruit of the Spirit is the mark which shows that a person has started a new life as a citizen of heaven. These are the signs of life – the marks of vibrant living.
1: Human patience has its limitations
People talk a lot about our fast paced culture. How folks nowadays don’t like to wait. For example, why bother writing and posting a letter or visiting a friend when you can e-mail them or send an SMS. Forget waiting a couple of days for a letter – I get irate when I have to wait 2 minutes to download a document from the internet.
The irony is that time saving devices, rather than increasing our ability to wait and have more time to enjoy… seem to decrease our ability to enjoy and wait at all. These time saving decices seem to have stolen our patience.
In all of this, it’s hard to understand the patience of God when patience isn’t really part of our lives anymore. It’s clear that human patience has its limitations.
2: Human kindness has its limitations
Perhaps like me you were shocked when the Tsunami hit S/E Asia a few months ago. Hundreds of thousands of people either drowned or were instantly made orphans, widows and homeless – all in a matter of moments.
Considering the enormity of this natural disaster it’s no wonder we saw such a huge and generous response from the public in Australia and around the world. Aid agencies were inundated with gifts and donations – such as we had never seen before – at least in our generation. The figure rapidly climbed to more than a billion dollars in aid. It seemed that Australians had admirably risen to the challenge of loving their geographic neighbours.
Then came Schapelle Corby ............ And we wanted our money back!
It’s clear that many Australians think Schapelle is innocent of trafficking drugs through Indonesia. But who knows?! I’ll tell you what is clear though – human kindness has its limitations.
Here’s the point – we might be kind to people we like or people we pity, but when it comes to being kind to our enemies, or to people who do us harm or even simply offend us – people just don’t know how to do that.
Just like our patience, human kindness has it’s limitations too.
3: Human goodness has its limitations
You’ve heard it before, “Oh I may lose my patience from time to time, but don’t we all? And you’re right, I struggle to be kind sometimes – but I’m not like other people. I’m generally a good person.”
There is actually an area of research in the Social Sciences that psychologists call The Self-Serving Bias.
This refers to the universal human tendency to underestimate “my shortcomings.” Apparently when we compare ourselves to other people we usually think we’re doing better than we actually are; People tend to take more credit for stuff than they really deserve; We tend to exaggerate our abilities and our successes. And this Self-serving Bias is one of the most widely documented findings in all of social science.
Here’s an example. A survey was conducted among hospital patients. These particular patients were in hospital as a result of an accident that they caused by driving badly. Now, the majority of these patients rated themselves as “Above Average” drivers. Yet here they were in hospital as a result of a traffic accident that they caused!! That’s self-serving bias.
Of course, as long as I compare myself to other people, I can always find somebody else who is doing worse than I am - and then I think I grade out pretty well. The tragic fact is this – no one is completely good 100% of the time. And just like human patience and human kindness, human goodness has its limitations as well.
So church, now we have a choice. We can say, “Listen, that’s just life. I’m patient, but sometimes, like everyone, I just lose it. I’m kind, but some people don’t deserve my kindness. I’m mostly good and it seems to get me by.”
Or we can say, “I’m not prepared to live a second rate life.” Friends you only have one life – don’t ever settle for the second best life you could have had. I want to urge you to live your life at a higher level.