Summary: Since patience means “slow to get angry,” we’ll focus on some of those things that cause us to burn with anger so that we can learn the discipline of waiting
Preparing for Patience
Rev. Brian Bill
July 1, 2001
A truck driver sat down to eat at an all-night restaurant. The waitress had just served him his meal when three guys riding Harley’s showed up and swaggered into the diner. One grabbed the man’s hamburger; another took a fistful of his French Fries; and the third picked up his coffee and began to drink it.
The trucker responded with great patience. He calmly got up from the table, picked up his check, walked to the front of the restaurant, put his money on the cash register, and headed out the door. The waitress watched as the big truck drove off into the night.
When she returned, one of the bikers said to her, “He wasn’t much of a man, was he?” To which she replied, “He’s not much of a truck driver either. He just ran over three motorcycles out in the parking lot.”
As we come to the fourth fruit of the spirit, I confess that I really struggle with this one. My impatience seems to be insatiable. I’m wired for action and get frustrated with how slow things move sometimes. As I take a look at my heart and do an inventory of my life, most of my sins are linked to a lack of patience. While I might not drive over motorcycles, sometimes I wish I could! We’re going to discover this morning that the road of impatience almost always leads to spiritual disaster.
Last week we looked at the fruit of peace and established that we cannot experience this Christian character trait until we have peace with God which leads to the peace of God. Only then can we be at peace with others. If last week’s emphasis was upon conflict resolution skills, then we could call today’s theme anger management. As we’ve been learning throughout this series, each fruit is connected with all the others. Only one who demonstrates peace can truly display patience. Likewise, patience is a necessary prerequisite for establishing peace.
Let’s read Galatians 5:22-23 together: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”
The Fruit of the Spirit can only come from the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. He alone is the source and supplier of patience because He is the God of all patience. Only as we are filled with the Spirit, and stay connected to the vine will we be able to know and experience His patience. Just as we can’t manufacture love, joy or peace on our own, we certainly can’t pretend to have patience when we don’t.
Here’s a definition that seems to capture the biblical meaning: “Patience is a calm endurance based on the certainty that God is in control.”
It’s not easy to be patient, is it? There are at least 2 reasons why it’s so rare today.
1. It goes against human nature. From the moment we’re born we want things taken care of right away. When a baby wakes up in the middle of the night and is hungry, it doesn’t lie there and think, “I know mom and dad are tired so I’ll just wait until breakfast time.” No, the baby cries impatiently until it receives the attention it demands. Many of us haven’t changed much from those days.
2. It’s contrary to our culture. Those of you who have traveled to other countries recognize that Americans are wound pretty tight. That reminds me of the man whose car had stalled in heavy traffic just as the light turned green. As he frantically tried to get his car started, he was greeted by a chorus of honking horns and angry faces. He finally got out of his car, walked back to the driver behind him and said, “I’m sorry but I can’t seem to get my car started. If you’ll go up there and give it a try, I’ll stay here and honk the horn for you.”
In His Place and At His Pace
It’s hard for us to sit still, isn’t it? John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, says that impatience is a form of unbelief. It’s what we begin to feel when we start to doubt the wisdom of God’s timing or the goodness of his guidance. We’re sitting behind the wheel but feel like we’re not going anywhere. As a result, anger builds and sometimes sprays shrapnel everywhere, leaving a path of destruction in our relationships. The battle with impatience can erupt while standing in line at the grocery store, or it can boil over when we’re faced with a health problem, job stress, or family friction.
We have two decisions to make.
• We can choose to wait for God where we are…and not give up. Instead of bailing, God wants to use His waiting room to build us up.