Summary: This sermon examines the second set of the fruit of the Spirit:patience, kindness and goodness.
THE SPIRIT-FILLED LIFE PART II
Those who study health habits tell us that fruit is a very important part of our diet. They are important mainly for the vitamins and minerals they contain. The acids they contain also help the digestive process. Fruits can be eaten in many ways. We eat some fruits fresh, others canned, some dried and still others frozen. The juice from fruits can be bought frozen or canned.
My grandfather and grandmother have several fruit trees in their yard. He tells of the blooming peach tree he bought, but to his surprise it bore peaches. Then there is the apple tree that bears up to five different kinds of apples.
Fruit is very important to the Christian life. In fact, it is proof positive that we belong to God. If we belong to God, our lives should be bearing the fruit that Paul enumerates in these verses. We have already considered the fruit of love, joy and peace. Now we want to continue looking at things that should characterize God’s people.
I. WE SHOULD PRODUCE PATIENCE
Patience carries the idea of being tolerant and longsuffering when we are wronged by others. It is a calm willingness to accept situations in our life that are painful and irritating. It comes from a Greek word that speaks of a person’s steadfastness under provocation. It is when we can endure ill-treatment from others without wanting to retaliate or take revenge because of what they have done. It is when we deal with others in a kind and compassionate manner. It is when we judge the faults of others with understanding instead of criticism.
Since God is slow to anger, we as his children should be also. We are told to emulate the patience of our Lord. The Bible says; “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)
Patience includes perseverance where the Lord’s work is concerned. Doing God’s work is fulfilling and rewarding, but we cannot take away the reality that many times we grow weary and disgusted in this work. The work itself is not the problem. It is the way many respond to our efforts to do God’s work. Many times others are not willing to accept our testimony. Though we want them to respond to the salvation message, they will not. The frustration can also be felt when trying to re-motivate cold and indifferent church members. We hear a million excuses as to why they cannot come to that particular church anymore, yet they do not bother to go anywhere else either. Patience is the ability to withstand all of this while at the same time maintaining a sense of optimism. We must remember that God is in control, not us.
Like the other gifts, God is the source. Paul said; “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 15:5) God proclaimed himself to be patient. He made this statement to Moses. When Moses saw the disobedience of the people while he was on the mountain receiving the commandments of God, Moses threw the tablets down and broke them. God instructed Moses to come up the mountain again and receive new tablets. As the Lord passed before Moses, he proclaimed these words; “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.” (Exodus 34:6)
We see the patience of God as he dealt with the children of Israel. There was a pattern in their life that is much like ours. They were committed to God, but the times would come when they would turn away from him. God would send punishment for their disobedience, and they would repent and stay faithful for a while. It would not be long before the pattern would begin again. God would patiently deal with them through their many failures even as he does us.
We see the virtue of patience in the life of Christ. The majority of people doubted his identity. He was ridiculed and tested on many occasions by those who doubted his authenticity. He was falsely accused and put to death on a cross. He showed patience through the testing, suffering, pain and agony. Isaiah said of the coming Messiah; “He was oppressed and He was afflicted. Yet he opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)
Patience is a result of testing and trials. The Bible says; “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2) We should welcome the troubling times because we know that they will result in patience. We think of the patience of Job. He lost his property, children and health. He was ridiculed and rebuked by his so-called friends. In all of this, he was patient, and God rewarded him greatly for his patience. The Bible also says; “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance.” (Romans 5:3)