THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
- THE FOURTH GRAPE OF THE CLUSTER
Patience - Long Suffering - Forbearance
This is a time of the year, when farmers and gardeners learn how to wait and being patient for the ground soil to be warm enough for tilling and planting. Children must learn how to wait patiently for the end of the school year, even though with all the warm weather, summer can't be far away at all.
Sometimes people struggle with patience in other ways. They are looking forward to a job change, a break from work, a promotion, a change in a relationship or relief from difficult circumstances. Someone once prayed, “Lord, give me patience and I want it RIGHT NOW.”
The next grape/characteristic, we are going to look at in the cluster of God's fruit in our lives, is patience. Remember the fruit of God's Spirit “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,” in Galatians 5:22, is like a cluster of grapes. You cannot have one without having the whole cluster. Now one characteristic or grape may be more developed than the other, but you cannot have one without the others. How developed is the characteristic of patience in your life and mine?
The following are some interesting thoughts and illustrations about patience. Think about them for few moments.
- Henry Comstock laid claim to a silver deposit in Virginia City, Nevada, in 1859. Before long he was offered $11,000 for his claim and sold it. But he sold out too soon. For the Comstock lode proved to be the greatest silver deposit in history. It brought its later owner some $340,000,000 during the following thirty years.
- “You can accomplish anything if you have patience.”
- “You can even carry water in a sieve if you wait until its freezes.”
What is patience? If you were to study the original Greek word, which is translated into patience or long-suffering, you would find it to be defined as forbearance or an even, long, enduring temper. The last definition is extremely insightful. The writers in the Bible might have had a picture of a yoke of oxen steadily plowing, a donkey carrying a load mile after mile or an animal on a treadmill.
W. Phillip Keller describes patience in his book entitled A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit, this way. “Patience is the powerful capacity of selfless love to suffer long under adversity. It is that noble ability to bear with either difficult people or adverse circumstance without breaking down. This implies that one has certain degree of tolerance for the intolerable. It is a generous willingness to try to understand the awkward people or disturbing events that our heavenly Father allows to enter our lives.”
“Patience is that powerful attribute that enables a man or woman to remain steadfast under strain, not just standing still but pressing on. Patience is that potent perseverance that produces positive results even under opposition and suffering. It is love, gracious, self-giving, pressing on, enduring hardship, because of the benefit it may bring to others. It is a quiet willingness to wait, alert and watchful for the right moment to make the appropriate move.”
The effects, the benefits and the learning experiences of patience are amazing, enormous and significant. But the challenge is submitting to the control of the Master Gardener to produce the fruit of patience in our lives.
If we pray for the development of this fruit, the Heavenly Father will allow people, situations and circumstances to come into our lives, so that we may learn how to trust in His strength, fortitude and gracious loving kindness. When we do so, our character and demeanor will reflect the Godly loving, patience; He desires to create in us.
A certain woman prayed often for patience. She complained to another Christian that while she prayed for patience, all she seemed to get was trouble. “The Lord is sending trouble in order to pro-duce patience in you,” was the reply.
How many times have you and I prayed for patience, and we have had to cope with a misbehaving child, a difficult employee, a demanding boss or a spouse, whose habits or behaviors are exasperating to live with? It may have been an answer to our prayers for patience so that we have the oppor-tunity to exercise and model it, being transformed into the likeness of Christ
May we all know the blessedness of Psalm 37:5, “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him.”
Pastor Perry DeGroot