An Age of Impatience
Galatians 5:22, 23
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness faith, 23Meekness temperance: against such there is no law.
One of the things that has been happening in my life, as I have been studying the Fruit of the Spirit, is that I have been realizing again how high the standard is and how far short my own life falls from meeting that standard. When the Lord gave to us the characteristics that we have been studying in the Book of Galatians and He said, “This is the fruit of the Spirit” and this is what spirit-filled Christians will be like: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, faithfulness, meekness and temperance, I paused to pray.
We live in an age of impatience. Let’s think for a moment about how we deal with interruption when we’re busy or how do we deal with irritation: long lines at the grocery store, traffic jams, flat tires, inconvenience. We all seem to be in a hurry.
We have fast food and fast lanes at the checkout counter. We have instant coffee, instant oatmeal and microwave ovens because we want it and we want it now. We are impatient people and if we’re at a red light and we don’t get going, the person behind us bears down on his horn. This is a picture of us as we go through life with our instant print cameras and our jets that can get us overseas in just a matter of hours.
We’re reminded that most everything can be done in a hurry and yet Jesus teaches us to wait. The Bible is filled with many illustrations of the quality we are called to emulate: long suffering – patience.
When we study God’s Word, we find out that God wants to develop in each of His children a wonderful quality called patience or long suffering. It seems like it’s the hardest of all of the qualities to learn.
Seemingly, the world has made a god out of speed. We want to do everything as fast as we can and in the midst of this God is telling us He wants us to be longsuffering and patient.
It does not have the adventure and excitement that’s wrapped up in some of the other qualities, but it is the virtue that is the closest to God’s heart, as we will learn today. God is a God of longsuffering and patience and forbearance. Patience and longsuffering know how to sit still and wait its turn. It’s slow to retaliate and does not seek to get even. All of us, I’m sure, have discovered that one of the hardest things in life to do, is to wait patiently and with joy.
We wait in bank lines and grocery store lines and in traffic lines. It’s a part of our culture, not one though that we enjoy. God is allowing irritations to grow patience in our lives. The fruit of the Spirit is longsuffering, that is, patience. These things that come into our lives, they are not obstacles, but opportunities to develop patience. We should resign ourselves to the fact that “whatever befall us, Jesus doeth all things well.”
Why is patience so important?
James 1:3, 4
3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Perfect means mature. There is no maturity without patience and no patience without trials. God is interested in growing us up and making us mature. Here is a little quotable I put in my book years ago and it’s so true:
I walked a mile with pleasure; she chatted all the way but left
me none the wiser, for all she had to say. I walked a mile
with sorrow and not a word said she, but of the things I
learned from her, when sorrow walked with me!
So many times when tribulation comes we ask God to take it away, but we should ask for wisdom.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
We then not only want to be mature, but we want to be blessed.
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
2 Corinthians 2:14
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
When trials come and we endure, then we mature in Christ and when the enemy comes with these things we are victors, instead of victims, because we’re strong; our spirit has been exercised.
He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
If we don’t mature in Christ by having patience, the enemy can make inroads into our lives.
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
A person who develops the quality of longsuffering and patience in his life, as man or woman, first of all, discovers what it means to be consistent in living an exemplary life. Patience and longsuffering are the key to an exemplary life. A day in and day out “walk with God” is an example to everyone we come in contact with and should be our goal, something for which we should strive.
I believe that was what Paul was talking about when he prayed for the Colossian believers.
Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
Paul was saying I want you to know that patience is not a grim, bleak acceptance of the situation, but it is that which radiates joy. Patience and endurance are not only the key to a consistent life, but result in a controlled life. The fruit of the Spirit is the outworking of the spirit-controlled life.
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
The Proverb says that there’s more power involved in keeping control of your own spirit than there is involved in going against a city and winning a war.
A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.
The Bible teaches us that when we are slow to anger there are many benefits that come to us in keeping the unity of those around us.
I Corinthians 13:4
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
It means charity has a long fuse.
Have you ever been around people that you never know when that short temper will explode or erupt? The beauty of forbearance and patience in the life of a Christian is that it enables that person to live a life under control. It means we can put up with the circumstances around us.
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Here is a quote that goes along with this verse.
When I’ve lost my temper, I’ve lost my reason, too.
I’m never proud of anything which angrily I do.
When I’ve talked in anger and my cheeks are flaming red,
I have always uttered something that I wish I hadn’t said.
In anger I have never done a kindly deed or anything wise
but many things for which I felt I should apologize.
In looking back across my life in all I’ve lost or made
I can’t recall a single time when fury ever paid,
So I struggle to be patient for I’ve reached a wiser age
And I do not want to do a thing or speak a word in rage.
I have learned by sad experience that when my temper flies,
I never do a worthy thing, a decent deed or anything wise.
One thing about it, we can’t recall one word spoken or one deed done, and though these words and deeds can be forgiven, they also cause a little scar tissue that develops in the heart of people. If a person demonstrates longsuffering and patience in his life, that doesn’t happen; he moves through life under control.
That’s what Christ wants for each of us: a life of patience and longsuffering as a quality of life as we commit ourselves to the Spirit of God and He lives His life through us.
God can teach us patience through our troubles and tribulations. Without patience we would never learn from life’s experiences and when these things come, we shouldn’t treat them as enemies but as God’s tools in our lives to teach us the value of longsuffering.
As God was giving the 10 Commandments, He stood with Moses in a cloud and proclaimed the Name of the LORD and described some of His own attributes.
And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.
Longsuffering wouldn’t you say! When we read the Book of Psalms we discover over and over again that there’s a verse that keeps popping up and it’s almost word for word and means that the God who created us, the God who pardoned us, redeemed us by the blood of His Son is a longsuffering, slow to anger God. The slow, long-suffering of God is the sinner’s rescue!
2 Peter 3:15
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
The only reason why we have a day of grace is because God is longsuffering. He’s patient and He extends to us the opportunity to repent.
I Timothy 1:12, 13
12And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 13Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
Paul wrote a letter stating that he, Paul, was an “example” of God’s longsuffering and patience, a living testimony of God’s abundant grace.
The longsuffering nature of God is the sinner’s reminder, a warning that the day of opportunity has been extended and it’s time to repent.
The longsuffering and patience are not only the sinner’s rescue and a reminder, but if he let it, it can be the sinner’s ruin. He may use the patience of God for his own destruction because God hasn’t judged, then, or maybe the problem hasn’t been exposed so they think, perhaps, that God has forgotten or that it’s okay, but there’s a line you dare not cross.
And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
If people take the nature of God which is His love for us and His longsuffering and patience and presume upon it, to sin away the gift of grace, people will be condemned.
Practice longsuffering exemplified by patience.
There’s a payday coming. There’s also a rewarding day available to the obedient child of God.
How do I become a child of God? You become a child of God by asking God to forgive you of your sins. It’s as simple as that. Won’t you ask right now?
We are not promised tomorrow so live today in the revealed truth of God’s Word.