Summary: Christians come in all different shapes and sizes. Different backgrounds make it difficult for them to all get along. Patience is the Spirit given quality that helps us fit everyone together into a church that praises God.
OPEN: How many of you like to put together jigsaw puzzles. Diana and I have always doing that… although we’ve not done it nearly so much since we’ve had kids. Sometime ago, I ran across the following article:
“Everything I needed to know about life, I learned from a jigsaw puzzle.”
1. Establish the border first. Boundaries give a sense of security and order.
2. When things aren’t going so well, take a break. Everything will look different when you return.
3. Working together with friends and family makes any task quicker and more fun.
4. The creator of the puzzle gave you the picture as a guidebook
5. Don’t force a fit. If something is meant to be, it will come together naturally.
6. Perseverance pays off. Every puzzle goes together bit by bit, piece by piece.
7. Anything worth doing takes time and effort. A great puzzle can’t be rushed.
APPLY: One of the things that seems to be repeated in those observations is: when you put a puzzle together, patience is the key. Unless you’re putting together one of those children’s puzzles with only 8 pieces, you’ll rarely put a puzzle together overnight. In fact, it will usually take you several days to a couple of months.
BUT if you are NOT patient you may end up trying to force pieces in where they don’t belong. You might find yourself being increasingly unhappy even when you make a little progress. And you may find yourself getting so frustrated you’ll either walk away from the puzzle altogether, or tear it all up and put it back in the box. Patience is the key!
I. Here in Galatians, God tells us that one of the most noticeable marks of a spirit-led Christian is patience.
A mature Christian is a patient Christian
And the less patient you are… the less mature in Christ you are.
Now God isn’t talking here about our level of patience when putting a jigsaw puzzle together.
Nor our patience when we have to wait in line at grocery store or Post Office.
Nor is He addressing our need for patience when some jerk pulls out of front of us as we’re driving down the road, and nearly causes an accident.
We should be patient in all those situations. I certainly am (I paused to let the audience chuckle). But as important as it is for us to be patient at times like those, there is an even more important situation in which God desires us to be patient.
In Galatians, God is telling us that we MUST be patient with our Christian brothers and sisters.
The church in Galatia had some serious problems… one of which was that there were people in the church that couldn’t get along. Look again at Galatians 5:15 “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
There were people in that church who were engaged in back biting and sniping at one another. They might not have done this to each others’ faces. More likely they did behind one another’s backs. But the point remains that they Paul knew they were “biting and devouring each other.”
So, Paul tells them they have to make a choice to make:
1. They could be led by God’s Spirit
2. Or they could wallow in sinful behaviors of the flesh
Then Paul goes on to describe those “sinful behaviors”. And he says that they are obvious:
“sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.”
Then he goes on to say
”I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21
This church had problems. Problems like sexual immorality and drunkenness. And they had problems with infighting, hatred, discord, dissensions, and factions. And he says he’d warned them before about these behaviors.
But then Paul goes into detail about how being led by the Spirit entirely different proposition. He talks about the fact that a church ought to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness etc.
Paul described what every church really knows it should be inside:
A church that is a place where people Love one another
Where they work at creating an atmosphere of Joy
Where they promote Peace between each other
Where they are Patient with one another
And on, and on, and on…
This morning I want to focus on our need to be patient with one another.
The Greek word here “Makrothumi” means “Slow to anger” (makro SLOW, thumos= ANGER)
Or, as the KJV puts it “Longgggg – suffering”
ILLUS: I recently read the story about a kindergarten teacher who was helping one of the children put on their puts.