Sunday, July 31, 2011

Juicy Fruit, Patience - Galatians 5:22

10 second dead air.
That was about 10 seconds of dead air and it was torture wasn't it?  It's so hard to be patient.  After 3 seconds you're already coming up with scenarios:  ok the pastor had a stroke, call 911.  Maybe he's expecting somebody else to do something.  Maybe he's just an idiot.  Somebody say something!  Just 10 seconds. 

We are in Galatians 5:22 this morning and today's fruit of the Spirit is patience.  Let's read that verse.  Galatians 5:22.   

We are going through the fruit of the Spirit and obviously we have made it to "patience".  The first 3, love, joy and peace, are all so wonderful to have in our lives.  Everybody wants more love in their life.  We crave to have joy.  We pray that God will bring peace.  But patience, not so much.   

The thing that is different about patience as opposed to the first three is that there is nothing pleasant about patience in and of itself.  It's not pleasurable to attain it and there is no pleasure in exercising it.  We get love by showing other people love.  We get joy by showing others how to be joyful.  You don't have to do much of anything to get peace except be still and know that he is God.  But patience...You know how you get patience?  The hard way! 

Nobody is born patient.  Babies are never patient.  They want something and they want it now.  They don't care how little sleep you had.  They want it now.  Some of us haven't changed much.  I saw a funny video the other day.  This guy brought 4 year old kids one at a time into a room with a hidden camera and had the child sit at a table with a marshmallow on it.  The child was instructed that if they didn't eat the marshmallow for 15 minutes, they would be given another marshmallow and then they could eat both.  Just wait 15 minutes and you could have 2 marshmallows. 

How do you think that went?  2 out 3 ate the marshmallow before the 15 minutes was up.  Some lasted a couple of seconds.  Some lasted longer.  One of them last for 14 minutes and 30 seconds and then scarfed up the marshmellow.  They would sniff of it, poke it, eat the middle out of it.  Some of them didn't even try.  The guy wasn't out of the room good and they would eat it. 

How patient are you?  Would you say that you would qualify as being called "patient"?  Some of you just want me to give you a marshmallow now and be quiet.  When is it most difficult for you to be patient?  What are your pet peeves?  My pet peeve is somebody talking when I am trying to talk.  It's hard for me to be patient when that happens and as I lose my patience, it's interesting to note that my love, joy and peace fly out the window about the same time.   

We all talk about patience but what is it really?  The original Greek word used here by Paul is "makrothumia", macro meaning long and thumos means temper.  It takes a long time to get mad, basically.  But again, like the other fruit we have seen so far, a definition doesn't do it justice so I want to show you what it looks like and also what it doesn't look like. 

Who better to start with in showing what patience looks like than the author of Galatians himself, Paul?  Before Paul wrote Galatians we see him in the book of Acts in prison for driving a demon out of a slave girl.  If you have your Bibles turn to Acts 19-25.  Read.  Paul and Silas never responded to the crowd.   They had every right and every reason to be complaining and protesting their treatment but instead they were praying and singing "Amazing Grace".  Don't those two guys just make you sick?  They do me.  They make me look so pathetic with my wimpy little problems that I want to complain about all the time.  Praying and singing, nanny, nanny, nanny!  He was talking while I was talking, nanny, nanny, nanny! 

So not only do we see they had patience but we also looked at this situation as an example of peace and joy.  And this wasn't a fake patience either.  We've all been in that situation.  Maybe you are getting in trouble at work or school.  Your spouse is nagging.  Your neighbor is wasting your time.  And you just sit there and grin and bear it on the outside but on the inside you are fuming.  When difficulties come, we can plaster on a smile and play the brave Christian, even if inside we are just building up our resentment.  But a mature and growing faith will be learning the perspective of the farmer.  Let me read to you a passage from James 5.  7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
The farmer knows he is working for a reason; the harvest is coming. When others let us down, we can grit our teeth and suppress our irritation, even if inside we are seething. But a mature and growing faith is learning to see the faults of others in the light of the future. God will make all things right, both judging evil and rescuing us from it. If He can save an evil person like me, He can certainly be counted on to deal with everyone else as well.  So true patience comes from having that perspective.
We've seen a good example of what true patience looks like and what fake patience looks like.  Now let's look at an example of not having any patience.  Turn to I Samuel 13.  We will look at verses 8-13 and as you turn there I will tell you what is going on here.  Saul is the king of Israel and he is about to go to battle with the Philistines but he is seriously outnumbered.  Samuel the prophet told him to wait for him.  He would be there in 7 days and would offer up the sacrifice.  Saul waited and waited, all the while the Philistines got closer and closer.  Time was running out and Saul's troops were running off.  Everybody was scared.  So Saul takes matters into his own hands and let's see what happens.  Read 8-13.
Saul missed out on a huge blessing.  He just knew that he had to do something and now he had to pay the price and was replaced as king by (my friend) David.  Now I want you to catch all this...David knew about God's blessings.  He writes in Psalm 86:15, "But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness."  Did you catch that?  God 's blessings include being slow to anger.  God Himself is patient!  He is patient and wants to bless us and He will bless us when we, like Him, are patient.
We have talked in our Sunday School about Jeremiah the prophet being patient and longsuffering.  He prophesied for years and never had a convert.  James also talks about prophets in James chapter 5.  As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. (James 5:7-11)
Every week we see that these fruit of the Spirit, when they are mature in a believer, make that person more attractive to non-believers.  And the reason they make you look more attractive is because it makes you more like Jesus.  Jesus could have won the kingdoms of this world at the Temptation, but He waited.  He could have established His kingdom when He rode into Jerusalem, but He waited.  He could have condemned those who crucified Him, but He waited.  He could have called legions of angels to defend Him, but He waited.  He could have returned yesterday, but He waited.
Why is He so excruciatingly patient?  Because the greater the investment in His people-in both time and spiritual maturity-the greater the benefit in the eternal scheme.
This is a mean and nasty world in which we live.  It's hard to be patient with people sometimes.  A big joke in almost any kind of business that involves people (retail, sales, health care, churches) is that this job would be great if it weren't for the people.  It's because people are hard to get along with.  We've all experienced that.  And it's not going to end.  There will always be people who try to use you for their own agenda.  They will take advantage of you.  They will say mean things.  They will overreact when you do something not quite right.  They will take you for granted.  They will kick you when you're down.
God can't surely expect us to be patient with those kinds of people, can He?
I want you to think back to Paul and Silas in prison.  Praying and singing, it says.  That's the same Paul that just a few chapters earlier it says was breathing out murderous threats against members of "The Way", dragging them out of their homes, putting them in prison or even having them killed.  And now we see him, after being beaten himself, praying and singing, full of joy, peace and patience.  What's the difference?
I'll tell you what the difference is not.  This is not someone who just turned over a new leaf in his life.  It's not someone who is trying real hard to be a good person, whose good deeds outweigh his bad deeds.  It's not someone who has started going to church or was baptised or whose mother always went to church.
This is someone who has had a life-changing relationship with the Creator of the universe.  Someone who has agreed with God that he is a sinner and understands that the wages of sin is death and that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay that price.  He understands that Jesus died but rose again after 3 days and that it is only by grace and through faith that he is saved.  And now after asking God to be Lord of his life, the fruit of the Spirit starts to ripen and mature, making this man attractively patient.
The exact same thing can happen in your life today if you just accept it.

No comments:

Post a Comment