16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[a]you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
After looking at the patience of God we come to the next way that patience is described in Scripture:
- Patience with People
If God is patient with us, then we should be patient with other people, but we can’t be patient in our own power. The answer to patience with people is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, where Paul says, “And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” Notice who Paul is talking to, He says, “brothers” these are fellow Christians. He is not calling pagans to be patient he is calling Christians. It’s here that we are reminded that without the power of Christ we are unable to be patient. I also want you to notice that Paul is calling us to be patient with people not just our situation. But which people are we called to be patient with, all people, everyone. This is where many of us want to object instead of obey as we say things like, “But you just don’t know what it’s like at my house or my work” or “But when someone drives like an idiot, I just get so mad” But it’s not about us it’s about our witness to a watching world. In 1 Timothy 1:15 – 16, Paul says, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life” When patience is produced by the Holy Spirit and put into practice in the life of the Christian it serves as an example for those who don’t yet know Jesus. But what happens to our witness when we “lose our patience”? Well, if we call ourselves Christians when we lose our patience we do damage to the Name of Jesus Christ. When a Christian gets mad and throws a golf club it does damage to the Name of Christ. Patience really is just a reflection of our relationship with Jesus. When we exhibit impatience, it reveals that we have just taken back control of our lives. So, if you are a Christian and you struggle with being patient then your REAL struggle is in allowing the Holy Spirit to be in control of your life. You may want to blame your patience problem on people, but it’s time to take personal responsibility and not only recognize what is wrong in your relationship with God but to repent and let Him be in charge. This brings us to the last way that patience is described in scripture:
- Patience with God
The Bible talks about God’s people being patient with God by waiting patiently for the Lord’s return and not getting angry with the Almighty. James 1:2-4;12-18 and James 5:7-9 says, “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!” We need to wait patiently on the Lord because He is coming back soon. But it’s hard for us to sit still because many of us want to be in charge and call the shots. The truth is impatience is a form of unbelief. It’s what happens when we start to doubt God’s wisdom, His timing and the goodness of his guidance. We feel like nothing is happening because we are walking by our feelings instead of by faith. So, we conclude that God doesn’t care and we get angry and go off not just on God but we spray shrapnel everywhere, ruining all our relationships. We have two decisions to make.
- We can choose to wait on God right where we are or giving up on God. What if instead of bailing, we view God waiting room as a place to build us up and mold us into the people He has called us to be. Second:
- We can determine to go at His pace or be reckless and try to run the show. We need to learn to give God His place and keep in step with His pace.
Phillips Brooks was a great preacher in New England during the 19th century. He was nationally known for his sermons against slavery and His sermon on the death of Abraham Lincoln moved an entire the nation. His Yale lectures on preaching are still widely read and taught today. But you probably know Him best for a simple Christmas song that he wrote, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Even though he was a very well-known and powerful preacher he still struggled to patiently trust. One day a friend saw him pacing back and forth in his study like a caged lion. His friend asked him what the trouble was. His reply was classic. This great man of God who seemed to have it all together said, “The trouble is, I am in a hurry. But God isn’t.” We need to learn to lean on the Lord otherwise we will get restless and run ahead of Him. So how are you handling the frustrations of life? Are you impatient with God? Do you complain to God and demand that He intervene and remove your trials? Patience is willingly to endure times of trials by waiting on God and not murmuring against God because you know that even in the chaos He is still in control. Are you being patient with others and recognizing that they too are growing in grace and are not perfect. Where do you need the Holy Spirit to prune your life so that the fruit of patience can blossom and bless those around you?