Summary: It is our natural inclination to be impatient with people - to get angry at them for the things they do which displease us, to fly off the handle when they say or do something against us, to express great displeasure when they do things the wrong way.
THE PLUM OF PATIENCE
This morning we begin the OUTWARD FRUIT, those qualities we will exhibit in our relationships with other people: patience, kindness and goodness.
Let’s look at the plum of patience: I’ve chosen a plum because patience is a plum of a virtue - it is one quality every believer needs more of (except busy doctors!) Also, the plum has kind of a tough, outer skin, but it’s sweet and juicy inside. Patience means having a toughness when trials of life batter us, but a sweetness toward people who rub us the wrong way.
"The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit" Eccl. 7:8 When we come to the fourth fruit of the Spirit, most of us are painfully aware of the fact that we fall far short of the character of Christ in this area. In fact, in our society today, patience is often thought of as a weakness - a possessive attitude, not standing up for one’s own rights as far as privacy and time are concerned. But Biblically speaking, patience is not lethargy, indolence, indifference or fatalism.
I. WHAT IS PATIENCE?
There are many different definitions given for patience. Let me mention a couple of the better ones:
1. Patience is a commitment to persevere
with different people or through adverse circumstances.
2. Patience is a "willingness to try to
understand the awkward people or disturbing events of our lives, tolerance for the intolerable."
There are actually three Greek words
A. Anecho (ana= UP; echo= HOLD) "To hold up under difficult circumstances, to hold back from retaliating against someone who has harmed us"- often spoken of in the Bible as FORBEARANCE.
Eph. 4:2 "With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love."
Col. 3:12&13 "Put on, therefore, as beloved of God, tender mercies, kindness, humbleness, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another and forgiving one another, if anyone have a quarrel against any."
B. hupomone’ (hupo= UNDER; meno= ABIDE) - "not losing heart under a great siege of trials"- spoken of Biblically as ENDURENCE
Rom. 12:12 "Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation"
James 1:3&4, 12 "Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have it’s perfect word that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.... Blessed is he who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."
C. makrothumi (makro=SLOW, LONG; thumos= WRATH, ANGER) "slow wrath or long anger, holding out for a long time before giving way to wrath or anger." -Biblically - LONGSUFFERING
God is our great example-
-Ex. 34:6 "The Lord God is merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth."
-1 Pt. 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning His promises; but is long-suffering to us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
As God has been patient with us in our sin and rebellion, so we should be patient towards others. This is the word used in Gal. 5:22!
II. HOW IS PATIENCE EXPRESSED?
Again, patience is four-directional:
A. PATIENCE IN PROBLEMS
It is very difficult to be patient when
trials and problems come our way.
Instead, we want them to be over as quickly as possible - instant solutions. But God doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes He allows our difficulties to continue for long periods of time to teach us to trust Him more, to teach us to endure, to teach us to be more thankful for the good times. Instead of cursing God for our problems, we should praise Him for the opportunity to grow in our Christ-likeness through them - and trust Him to remove them in His own perfect time.
B. PATIENCE WITH PEOPLE
It is our natural inclination to be impatient with people - to get angry at them for the things they do which displease us, to fly off the handle when they say or do something against us, to express great displeasure when they do things the wrong way.
The three worst offenses: 1) untimely interruptions; 2) negative criticism; 3) harsh words. But God’s Word says, "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Don’t worry because of evil doers. Cease from anger and forsake wrath. For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the Lord shall inherit the earth." Ps. 37:7-9
Instead of getting upset with other people, we should trust in the Lord and wait for Him to work in their lives. Getting angry isn’t going to help the situation- it isn’t going to make them move any faster or act any different. WE need to accept people as they are, and trust God to make them and us what we ought to be! Forgiveness is also a very important part of patience with people. If others wrong us, we should go to them and if they ask us, we should forgive them and not hold it against them.