September 14, 2015

Who is the Holy Spirit and What Does He Have to Do with Fruit? (Part 4)

As Christians, we're supposed to be filled with the Spirit of God. But what, exactly, does that look like? Well, for one thing, it looks like patience.
What in the Word: Galatians 5:22-25

Hang-Onto-It Verse: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23a)

The Backstory: 
Alright, precious girl, let's get right to it. Reread the Hang-Onto-It Verse, above. Which of the "varieties" of the fruit of the Spirit would you say is your biggest area of challenge? 

I hope I'm not alone when I say that patience is IT for me. 

I want to act now. I want to do something now. I want to figure this out now. I want resolution now. I want an answer now. I want "it" to happen now.

And while this is clearly MY issue before God, the split-second speed of our modern society doesn't support patience. If a webpage takes two seconds to load, we get irritated. We (okay, I) get annoyed if we (okay, I) have to wait a beat before the car ahead of us moves when the light turns green. We've got drive-thru dining and call-ahead seating and same-day delivery and instant-everything.

I also feel like patience carries with it a stereotype of passivity. Picture a patient person in your mind. What mental image are you painting? 

I've got a vision of someone who's sitting still, not doing much of anything, and not wanting to do much of anything. I'm thinking of someone who is not bothered by waiting. I'm picturing disinterest and dispassion...an "oh, well, whatever" approach.

Of course (you knew this was coming, didn't you?), this is not what patience is about at all.

Make your way to these verses and soak up the details surrounding the presentation of patience you find in each one.
  • Ephesians 4:2
  • Colossians 3:12
  • 1 Timothy 1:16
  • 2 Peter 3:15 
The Greek word for patience as it is used in these verses and in connection with the fruit of the spirit is makrothumia (mack-roth-oo-MEE-ah). Try saying it out loud a couple times. (Bonus points if you work it into conversation at the dinner table some night. Work it in and tell me about it, and I'll send you cookies!)

According to The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testamentmakrothumia means "forbearance...self-restraint before proceeding to action." And here's my favorite part: "the quality of a person who is able to avenge [herself] yet refrains from doing so." 
photo credit: http://www.prayers-for-special-help.com/

Forbearance means "to put up with." "Self-restraint" very often involves choosing not to say one thing and saying something else...or nothing at all. And being able to avenge yourself but refraining from doing it means that you have the way--and often the understandable why--to get back at someone, but you choose not to do it.

My family shows patience to me all the time by putting up with me. They show patience by (and if your mom taught you never to say "shut up," you might want to skip this part) shutting up and not yelling at me, even when I deserve it. They show patience to me by giving up their right to treat me like I treat them and by treating me with God's love instead. And they do all this because they have mercy on me: they do not give me what I deserve.

Patience puts up, shuts up, and gives up.

Patience puts up with others.
Patience shuts up what it could say and says something else...or nothing.
Patience gives up its right to do what it "deserves" to do and shows mercy instead.

I cannot write this post on patience without at some point going back to my own best
schooling on the subject to date: Beth Moore's Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit Bible study. My personal workbook from this journey is underlined, starred, exclamation-pointed, and bracketed! In the video session on patience, Beth says, "Patience is not only about what we do but about what we don't...patience waits when it wants to wack."

The Take-Away:
We absolutely know what patiently waiting instead of justifiably wacking looks like: it looks like mercy. And we know what mercy looks like: it looks like God. The Creator of the universe--the Great I AM, the High King of Heaven--sees people declare that He does not exists every day. He sees governments and courts make laws that directly oppose His good and right ways. He sees evil and wrongdoing and sin and wickedness thrown in His face. Why does He not take the action that will cause every knee to bow and every tongue to confess that He is Lord? (Philppians 2:10,11)

2 Peter 3:9 puts the answer to that question so powerfully. Look up this verse and fill in these blanks: "The Lord is not slow in keeping His ___________________, as some understand slowness. He is _______________ with you, not wanting anyone to ________, but everyone to ___________ to ________________."

This is why God puts up with us! This is why He does not avenge Himself--yet--even though He has every right to do it. This is why He does not speak judgement--yet. 

Because of His love. Because of His mercy. Because of His patience. 

The Truth in Action:
What person or situation in your life do you need to apply some patience to? And what will that look like when you do it? 
  • What will you say--or not say? 
  • What will you do--or not do? 
Usually, for me, patience looks like closing my mouth. Also, not slamming doors. I'm not saying this is what I do--or don't do. I'm just saying this is what it would look like if I "did" patience better and more often.

Patience, like every other spiritual discipline, takes practice. And you know what they say: practice makes perfect." Well, actually, no. There is always somewhere further we can go with God. We are always striving to model the perfection of Christ, but we are not there. But, practice does make possible. I can get better at patience. I can practice it so that the next time I need it, it's possible for me to show it.

And remember, the most important part of The Truth in Action for every part of this Fruit of the Spirit (FOTS) series is going to be the same: ask the Holy Spirit (H.S.) to give you His fruit! Listen up, precious girl, you cannot come up with the FOTS on your own. You can't will yourself to be patient, especially when you feel like you have every right to take some action and you have every right to take it now! You can't just grit your teeth and make this FOTS thing happen. You have to ask the H.S. to fill you up with His power every day. 

The great news here is that God will always say "yes" when we ask for something He wants to give (on His own perfect schedule, of course). And we KNOW He wants to give us patience and all the rest of the parts of the FOTS. You can ask for a fresh fill-up of patience to get you through your day and feel confident God is going to be all over that request. So ask! 

Ask the H.S. to give you His supernatural power, because people can't literally see God's Spirit in you, but they can see patience. And remember, you're not doing this hard thing on your own. I'm not doing it on my own. That's why it's not called the Fruit of Elizabeth or the Fruit of (your name goes here). It's the Fruit of the Spirit

His Spirit.
His fruit. 
In you. 
Sweet.
"When your words came, I ate them; 
they were my joy and my heart's delight." (Jeremiah 15:16)


What does practicing patience look like for you? 
Share it in a comment, on Facebook, or in an email!

(Looking for Part 3 of this series? Find it here.)


20 comments:

  1. Patience really is a tough one! I always knew it was something I need to work on, but you really challenged me in my definition of patience. I usually do have that idea of a person who is sitting there not minding the wait, but patience is a choice. I also loved how you showed what the patience of God looks like. It is always so mind blowing to be reminded of His mercy. Thanks for your wise words!

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    1. Meredith, thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comments! I know I needed to study patience and write about it for myself, so if what God is showing me resonates with anyone else, that is icing on the cake! :) Thank you for taking time to stop by!

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  2. Love this! Thanks for linking up with Reflect.

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    1. Thank you, Jann! And thanks for HOSTING Reflect! :)

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    1. Thanks, Denise...blessings (and patience!) to you today. :)

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  4. I've always wondered about this: it clearly states FRUIT of the Spirit, not fruits of the Spirit - so, is the true fruit of the Spirit, love? And, all the others are just side shoots? Interesting! Visiting from TWW, I'm your neighbor at #5.

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    1. Great thoughts, Susan! So, yes: it is "fruit," not fruits. I've heard various explanations on this. One is that fruit as it is used here IS plural (like "deer," for instance) and that we are to strive for all the "characteristics" of this fruit on the list, from love to self-control and everything in between. My understanding is that love is not more important, but I do think it's significant that it comes first: we really aren't going to care about being gentle or patient or self-controlled if we don't first have love. I talk a little about this in my first post on the series, which is here if you're interested: http://sweetforyoursoul.blogspot.com/2015/05/who-is-holy-spirit-and-what-does-he.html. I look at it this way for my own understanding: an apple is a fruit. But there are different varieties: Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, etc. Each variety is as much an apple as another. Also, an apple can be described as red or shiny or crunchy...but you're still describing an apple. So, too, I view love, etc., as "varieties" of ONE fruit of the Spirit...the "patience" variety, the "kindness" variety, etc. And I see these as characteristics of a life filled with one Spirit Who produces this fruit: if I am filled, I should be able to be described as loving, patient, etc. SO, that was probably WAY more than you wanted to know, but there it is! :) Thanks so much for stopping by...I'm off to check out your site now!

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  5. You hit the nail on the head for me when you talked about your family. Mine are SO much more patient with me than I am with them. But, I'm a work in progress and I strive to do better! Thank you so much for sharing at Waiting on...Wednesday! Hope to see you back next week!

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    1. Thank you, Holly! I hear you...so thankful for grace in which to grow. I love Waiting on Wednesday...thanks for hosting!

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  6. I love that I just found you from the Intentional Home link up. I will be coming back for this series for sure! Patience for me looks like... When my husband comes home late and is frustrated from a long day at work and spends the whole night complaining, all I want to do is yell at him to get over himself. Instead, I listen and offer my humble opinions if asked. I do what I can to make him feel comfortable at home and hold my tongue.

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    1. Well, Charlene, I'm so glad you made your way here so I could meet YOU! I LOVE your word picture of what patience looks like for you. What a blessing you are to your husband, as he is, no doubt, to you. I'm just looking around your blog now! :) Thanks so much for stopping by. I'd love to have you come back for "kindness" when I get it up, but in the meantime, "5 Verses to Claim Today When You're Worried About Tomorrow" is just up! ;)

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  7. Patience is a hard one, but so much more comes from patience than when we rush and get frustrated waiting for the something next to happen. Great encouragement!

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    1. Thank you, Kathryn...I like your perspective on the "gains" of patience. So often, I think I skew it in terms of what I lose. Thanks for helping me see this a better way!

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  8. What a great study! It reads as if it is coming from the heart of a teacher who loves the Word!

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    1. Aw, thank you, Michele! God has helped me to grow in love for His Word over 10 years of facilitating women's Bible study. It's been an unexpected joy and has become an unexpected passion. Thank you so much for taking time to drop by!

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  9. There is much to be said for not saying anything, a quality I find I am increasingly demanded to make as my kids grow into adulthood. Listening. Questioning. Encouraging. Listening more. Loving.

    It's amazing how much good can be accomplished by "not doing anything"!

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    1. Heehee, Carolyn...I will TRY to remember your wise advice as my daughters go through their tween/teen years and approach adulthood. Love your listening-loving list! Thank you for leaving it for me!

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  10. I used to think I was a patient person... then I had children! :) Thanks for sharing this encouraging message,

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    1. Well, Victoria, you're at least one step ahead of me: I never DID think I was a patient person...and then I had children! :) Thank you for so graciously hosting Intentional @ Home!

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I'd love to hear from you. What do you think? What's on your mind? Did you learn anything from this study that you didn't know to begin with? Did it make any sense? Tell me...I really want to know.