Patience – The Fruit of the Spirit (part 5)

The fourth fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 is patience.

In his book, The Curious Christian, Barnabas Piper writes:

What if there is hope? What if the sun will rise again tomorrow on a new day with new mercies? What if God’s promises are really worth trusting in and holding to? These are the questions we must ask while living patiently. (pg. 56)

When we think of patience, we often think of waiting without complaining. But from the Biblical view, as Piper’s questions point to, patience is more about waiting with hope. Romans 12:12 tells us to “be patient in affliction.” But how can we wait with hope when things seem to be going bad?

We look forward to the return of Jesus.

This is why James wrote in his letter: “Therefore, brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:7-8)

James uses a practical illustration to make his point: The harvest is the good thing longed for by the farmer, but he can’t force it. He has to work the ground, plant the seed, wait for rain, and wait for it to grow. But he waits with hope and expectation, knowing that the crop will come.

In the same way, life has its ups and downs. We experiences gains and losses, joys and sorrows, pleasures and pains–in the good, we wait for the even better to come with Jesus, and in the bad, we wait for the perfect joys to come with Jesus.

But patience isn’t simply directed at our longing for Jesus’ return. We’re also to be patient with others, just as God is patient with us (1 Corinthians 13:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:14, 2 Peter 3:9). Patience realizes that we are all works in progress in this life and that God isn’t finished shaping us until we breathe our last breath.

So, we strive to be patient with ourselves as God works in us, and we strive to be patient with others as God works in them. And it is the Spirit that helps shape patience in our lives. The Spirit reminds us of the hope we have in Christ and keeps it as a light in our heart during times of struggle. The Spirit also changes our perception of others, helping us to see them through Jesus as either our brothers and sisters or potential brothers and sisters. This, also, helps us to grow patient hearts.

So let us pray for greater patience–waiting in hope as God works his plan in the world and in the lives of others.

Next time, we’ll consider the fruit of kindness.

All scripture references from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB).

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Good Reads 06.07.18 (on: life satisfaction, identity, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On being a father: When Your Son Needs Fatherly Approval by David McLemore

I know too few men who feel the approval of their fathers. They grow up wondering if they’re pleasing to him. For some, that uncertainty results in rebellion. For others, it results in man-pleasing. In either case, it’s a tragedy. Some sons do disappoint their fathers. But, by and large, I would guess that most sons by the fact that they’re sons have their father’s approval. They just don’t know it because their fathers never say it. They navigate childhood hoping the home-run will bring praise, the A-filled report card will elicit pride, or the diploma will ensure proof of pleasure. They go into adulthood wondering if their job is enough not only to provide for their future family but enough to please their father’s expectations. Are they man enough? Are they good enough? Are they a disappointment? (click here to read more)

On finding satisfaction in life: The When, Thens of Life by Molly Ann Hilbert

I believe I have value because of what I do, because of my productivity level, because of the amount of output my life produces.

I forget that I have value simply because I am His.

I come back to J. Campbell White’s quote: “Nothing can wholly satisfy the life of Christ within His followers except the adoption of Christ’s purpose toward the world He came to redeem… The men who are putting everything into Christ’s undertaking are getting out of life its sweetest and most priceless rewards.”

But what, exactly, is Christ’s undertaking? (click here to read more)

On identity: You Are Who God Says You Are by Greg Morse

If you have been reborn, if you are repenting of your sin and believing the gospel, you are a child of God. And this status comes with authority: “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave authority to become children of God, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12–13).

You may not feel particularly childlike, you may not be enjoying his word every morning, but do not let the Liar convince you that you are not a child of the King. The question can never be, “Who are you to go to God in prayer?” The question now is, “Who are you to stay away when the King has invited you?” (click here to read more)

On waiting on God: What To Do While You Wait on the Lord by Mike Leake

The second point that I’m making is that when the Lord places us in a season of waiting that doesn’t mean it is a season of passivity. Waiting on the Lord means doubling down on gathering with believers, prayer, and obeying the Scriptures. Being told by the Lord to “wait” doesn’t mean to be frozen. It means to faithfully dig in to the things that you do know. Be obedient in the disciplines and diligently dig into the Scriptures and apply them. That’s what you do while you wait. (click here to read more)

The Reward of Patience

“And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its livestock you shall take as plunder for yourselves…” ~ Joshua 8:2

When Israel went up against the city of Jericho, God commanded the army to make a complete desolation of the city. Silver, gold, and vessels of bronze and iron would go into the treasury, but the people were to keep no livestock or take any spoils for themselves. Achan disobeyed this command, resulting in his own death after the armies were defeated at the next city, Ai.

But when the nation dealt with Achan’s sin and the army was ready to defeat Ai, God issued a command different than he had with Jericho: You may take the spoils and livestock for yourselves.

Because Achan had coveted and disobeyed God (7:20-21). It cost him everything. If he had waited in patience, he would have had gained things similar to what he took in disobedience.

Part of what this teaches us is our need for patience. God commanded against covetousness, or a strong desire to obtain what others have, in the Ten Commandments. Then, Paul warned against the same in Ephesians 5:5, comparing coveting to idolatry. When we covet and desire to have what others have, we are saying to God: I can’t trust you, what you have given me isn’t enough!

God, however, promises to take care of us. Jesus taught us to avoid anxiety, seek God’s kingdom, and trust. After all, look at the flowers of the field or the birds of the air and see how the Father takes care of them. And we are far more valuable than birds and flowers (Matthew 6:25-33). Also, in Luke 18:28-30, Jesus promises far more and eternal gain for those who give up much to follow him.

But, this requires patience. In eternity, through Jesus, God promises us the world. Today, though, hardships may still come. Tomorrow we might lose everything but in eternity we will have riches untold. Are we willing to wait? Are we willing to be patient and let God provide for us in his time and his plan? Or will we try to force the issue and take for ourselves today what God intends to give us tomorrow?

Be patient. Be obedient. Set your heart on God’s promises in God’s time.

New posts in this devotional series will appear most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.