Summary: We are to exercise patience toward others in the same manner in which God has been patient with us.
As we’ve done each week, we’ll begin with a quick review of several important characteristics of the…
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
1) Is demonstrated by being not doing
2) Is developed as Christ followers cooperate with the Holy Spirit
3) Is to be delightful to an unbelieving world
The way we do that as a body is reflected in two aspects of our life together in the body:
• The way we treat each other
• Our corporate worship
Today we’ll be focusing on patience as one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. This morning’s story from Home Town Tales is called “Patience. Patience Patience!!!”.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS…PATIENCE
Like we have experienced with the first three elements of the fruit – love, joy and peace – it is essential that we begin by defining what Paul had in mind when he wrote that the fruit of the Spirit is patience. There are two different Greek words that can be translated as “patience” in English:
The first is the Greek word “hupomone”. It is a compound word:
“hupo” [under] + “mone” [to abide] = “to abide under”
It is used in the New Testament to describe bearing up under difficult circumstances. We saw that word used several times in our study of the book of Revelation, where it was translated “patient endurance”. In other places, it is translated “endurance” or “steadfastness”.
But the word that Paul uses to describe the patience as an element of the fruit of the Spirit is a different Greek word – “makrothumia”. It is also a compound word:
“makro” [long] + “thumia” [temper] = “long tempered”
In the New Testament, this word is used in two distinct ways:
1) It describes a spirit that will never give in and which will endure to the end in order to reap the reward.
2) It is used more frequently to describe having patience with other people. When used in that way, it describes a person who has the opportunity to take revenge, but refuses to do so. I really like the way that William Barclay describes this kind of patience:
It is the spirit which can suffer unpleasant people with graciousness and fools without irritation.
Not surprisingly, it is this Greek word – makrothumia – that is used to describe the patience that God has toward us. We’ll see that in some detail a bit later.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate the difference between these two words is to look at a passage where the writer uses both words. In some cases in this passage the words are actually the verb from of the two Greek words.
7 Be patient [makrothumiaI], therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient [makrothumia] about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient [makrothumia]. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience [makrothumia], brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast [hupomone]. You have heard of the steadfastness [hupomone] of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
James 5:7-11 (ESV)
Job is described as having hupomone, but not necessarily makrothumia, because James is focusing here on Job’s ability to abide under or bear up under difficult circumstances.
On the other hand James uses the word makrothumia to describe the patience of the farmer who waits for fruit to be produced and the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord but never saw much of what they spoke come to pass. Here the first aspect of makrothumia – the idea of enduring to the end in order to receive the reward – is primarily in view. But there is also a hint of the concept of forgoing the opportunity for revenge when James commands his audience not to grumble against each other so that they are not judged.
Let’s look at one more passage that focuses more on this second aspect of makrothumia and then we’ll be ready to build some principles that will help us to develop this kind of patience within our body.
8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient [makrothumia] toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.