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)
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
According to The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, makrothumia 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."
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?
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.
"When your words came, I ate them;