Galatians 5:22-25 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, 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 sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is patience.
How patient are you? Are you grumpy when things don’t happen on your timetable? Are you irritable when people are slow to make decisions, to learn new things or to accomplish routine tasks? Do you devalue processes and stepping stones by merely labeling them as “hoops to jump through?” How can developing the fruit of the Spirit called patience transform our relationships?
People who are doers and achievers, who like to have their five-year plan and mark things off their accomplishments, how does that translate into their relationships? God not only wants us to be patient with processes and His timetable, but He wants us to be patient with people which means we are constantly needing to be patient about the processes others are going through as well. There are times friendships and marital relationships can move forward and there are times when one person in the relationship needs to wait on the other person because of where they are or because of something they are personally going through. Because there needs to be a lot of “give and take” in a relationship there has to be a lot of patience.
One of the most important lessons I have learned in my 45 years and eleven months is that waiting on the right person to marry is critical. I got married on my 29th birthday and don’t regret waiting on God’s match for me. How different my relationship would be, and potentially how different all of my relationships would be if I hadn’t been patient to wait on God’s person for me. Remember, this preaching series is on finding contentment. The only thing worse than being single and wanting to be married is to be married to the wrong person. Your contentment level can really suffer if you don’t patiently wait for God’s direction in your closest relationships.
Exercising patience as a person will lead to your personal maturity. Being willing to wait for something, even though you want it and could obtain it, will help you learn restraint in other ways. It’s almost as if patience leads to self-control, the last of the nine Fruits of the Spirit. Remember how these nine begin as well. The Fruit of the Spirit is LOVE. We are told in I Corinthians 13 that “Love is patient.” There is no real love without patience.
When we aren’t patient, we can become anxious. When we are anxious we can worry. When we worry we can focus on the negative side of life. When we focus on the negative side of life we can lose our joy, one of the other Fruit of the Spirit. Each one of these Fruits of the Spirit has the capacity to impact other parts of our lives and threaten the health of our relationships.
This whole fruit of patience may be the one that develops us and matures us more than any of the others which will make us a better spouse, parent, friend, and co-worker. Let me explain. Patience has the capacity to develop so many wonderful characteristics in us that make our core strong. It’s like the fruit of patience has many other awesome fruits tucked inside of it. Patience is a fruit-producing fruit, but when you look inside of it, you don’t just find more patience, but you find all kinds of other good fruit as well. What I am suggesting is that you need to let God work patience in you because it is going to produce extra fruit in your life that will make you a better friend, a better daughter, a better uncle, a better co-worker, a better grandparent and a better spouse. Trust me, the people you are in relationships with want you to have the fruit of patience growing in your life because it will produce qualities in you that you can’t get any other way, and it will produce qualities in you that you can invest in your relationships which will make you a better person to be in relationship with.
(the next few paragraphs were inspired by Dr. Charles Stanley’s article at : http://www.intouch.org/magazine/content/topic/Willing_to_Wait#.VC2GNsJ0wid)
The first thing I would suggest is that patience enables us to develop faith in our core self. When we exercise patience we are willing to trust God. We are willing to trust His timing. We are willing to seek His will above our impulses and desires. Rather than work to make things happen, we are willing to wait and let things happen. I don’t mean that we become lazy and have no vision, but we work with the understanding that the results are up to God. Surely a person of faith is a person you want to be in a relationship with. Don’t you want to have friendships with people who believe Christ in you can enable you to accomplish anything? That all things are possible with God?
I also think exercising patience helps work sensitivity and discernment into our core self. Impatient people will jump at a good thing rather than pray to understand if a better thing is just ahead. Isn’t that wise? Patient people are able to prayerfully discern if the opportunity in front of them is their want or God’s will. Ladies, don’t we want husbands who are sensitive? Men, don’t you want wives who are discerning?
Patience also works perseverance into our core self. It’s that perseverance that leads us to victory. Too many impatient people give up and quit when there was a break through just ahead, when there was a blessing just ahead. Perseverance is a wonderful quality to possess because life can be hard. Relationships can get messy. Without perseverance it is easy to walk out. It is easy to threaten divorce. It is easy to de-friend someone on FB or to block them from parts of your life. Perseverance will help us hold on to our friends, family, and spouses when the going gets tough.
This fruit of patience is absolutely essential to quality relationships. It will help us get past the past with people. It will enable us to interact appropriately and maturely.
That reminds me of a story about a man who was walking through a supermarket with a screaming baby in the shopping cart. A woman nearby noticed that time and again the man would calmly say: “Keep calm, Albert. Keep calm, Albert. Finally, in admiration for the man’s patience as the child continued to wail, the woman walked up to him and said: “Sir, I must commend you for your patience with baby Albert.” To which the man replied, “Madam, I am Albert!” (Encyclopedia of Illustrations – #9054).
Ok, while the man in the illustration was talking himself into being patient, his focus on it did enable him to keep it together in the grocery store! Patience will enable us to treat people like Christ as we allow Christ to work in them and bring them along in Him. Just as some of us are raising young children who need lots of patience, most of us have Christian friends who are young in the faith. They also need our patience.
Colossians 3:12-14 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Exercising patience is a command of Scripture and it will enhance all of our relationships, and if you are in a relationship with someone you love, but someone whose choices, attitudes, or behaviors are causing you some challenges, pray, pray and pray and wait a minute so God has some room to work. We want to pray and then rush to try to make the answer to our prayers appear in our own strength. People can and do change, and sometimes we need to give them the time needed to do so.
Susanna Wesley’s husband said, “I marvel at your patience! You have told that child the same thing twenty times!” She replied, “Had I spoken the matter only nineteen times, I would have lost all my labor.” (Choice Gleanings)
God has acted patiently toward us II Peter 3:9. He wants us to act patiently toward one another. How are you doing in the patience department? Do the people you love have your support as you wait on them to grow and develop or do you always express frustration and disappointment in what they contribute or accomplish? Are you allowing God to work deep on your core to develop your faith, your discernment and your perseverance? How patient are you?
Second, the Fruit of the Spirit is kindness. Let me define kindness this way: Kindness is building positive experiences into the lives of other people. The little things, the thoughtful things, the extra mile, all of those things enhance every relationship we have as well.
God has acted kindly toward us (Romans 2:4) and has demonstrated how we are to act toward one another. God’s kindness led us to repent. Do you understand the enormity of that reality? God’s kindness led us to repent. That means in response to God’s kindness we changed our ways. You need your friends to change? You need your spouse to change? Apparently there is life-altering power when kindness flows.
You know, every time we have an opportunity to speak we have a choice between kind words or cutting words, selfish words or words that serve to build other people up. Being kind is adopting the attitude that you live to bless others.
When the fruit of kindness grows in our lives we will be tuned in to the needs of others because we will be looking for ways to meet them in order to be a blessing. Who doesn’t want to be married to someone who is looking for ways to meet their needs? Hello! J Letting kindness grow into our lives will help us see the person sitting alone in the cafeteria. It will make us mindful of someone who lives alone and needs a visit. It will help us notice the person who is struggling to carry their groceries or the person who drops something in the parking lot because they are wrangling a two-year old and a gallon of milk. You see, possessing the fruit of kindness will give us opportunities to be a blessing to other people.
Living with kindness in mind will cause us to look more intentionally at our relationships. We will be more inclined to notice what our spouse likes or what would make a great gift for our friend’s birthday. It will give us extra energy or incentive, even when we are tired, to make someone a snack, to pack their lunch, to make sure the outfit they want clean for the next day is ready.
When kindness takes root in us it enables us to bless people beyond those we are in relationship with. When we just get into the habit of being kind we will be open to see ways to build positive moments into the lives of complete strangers and acquaintances that will serve as blessings from God to them.
Kindness isn’t only something we plan for. It’s great to be baking and think of someone who could use a “pick me up” pan of brownies, and brownies always pick me up. J It’s great to anticipate someone’s birthday, and search ahead of time for the special or thoughtful gift. Those are kind things to do. But kindness is not always something we have time to plan for. It isn’t always a pre-planned action, but it is the attitude we possess by the Spirit so when someone does something to us that hurts us or ticks us off in some way, rather than respond back out of our hurt and anger, we choose to respond from a reservoir of kindness instead. Kindness is the character trait we allow the Holy Spirit to build into our lives so that even when the circumstance would lend itself to retaliation or ranting or telling someone off, we bless them instead. The person who cuts you off in traffic, the person who takes the parking space you were waiting on and obviously had your signal on to take, the person who cuts in front of you in line, the person who talks poorly about you or poorly to you, all of those moments can catch us off guard and push our buttons. But when we have kindness on board, we don’t have to let a pushed button mean we push back.
Listen to: Luke 6:27-35 (NIV) 27 “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is KIND to the ungrateful and wicked.
You don’t have to know someone in order to be kind. You don’t even have to like someone to be kind. You just have to have the Fruit of the Spirit of kindness stored up in your heart and mind so that your spirit has what it takes to respond differently from the way your flesh would want to naturally respond when someone hurts you. And look at that last phrase of this passage. God is KIND to the ungrateful and wicked. Wow! What an example for us to follow. Why is kindness so important? Because it changes people. God’s kindness towards us has changed us, right? It has led us to repentance. Don’t we want mean, nasty, crusty, manipulative, controlling, selfish, sarcastic, rude people to change? Don’t we NOT want to be mean, nasty, crusty, manipulative, controlling, selfish, sarcastic and rude ourselves? Then we must exercise kindness.
How about a question for our young people this morning? Are you kind to your brothers and sisters? To your parents? To all the kids at school? To your teacher, bus driver, and coach?
But the Fruit of the Spirit is goodness.
Just what do we mean by the word “goodness?” What is good? What makes actions or people good? There are different measures.
In Basketball, for example, the University of Kentucky Wildcats being the winningest program in basketball history makes them good. Just sayin’. J
In football, a quarterback who throws touchdowns without interceptions is good!
Let’s look at my favorite sport for a minute: Eating. What makes food good? In New York, if your restaurant receives rave reviews your food is good. In time of Nehemiah in the Bible, if your cupbearer didn’t die, the food was good! In Germany, if you belch during the meal, it’s good! In my house if the kids will eat it, it’s good! http://www.thatchristianwebsite.com/outlines2/goodness.html
How does God define what is good? If we look at the opening chapters of the Bible and review that when God created the heavens and earth and plants and animals and land and sea and people, He patted Himself on the back (so to speak) and said that everything He had made was “good.” In other words, God was pleased with what took place. Perhaps that could lead us to the conclusion that living with the Spirit of Goodness means we live in such a way that God is pleased.
I like the definition for goodness that a minister named Melvin Newland has come up with. He says that “Goodness is doing the right thing for the right reason.” He argues, I suppose we could do the right thing for the wrong reason. I suppose that we could even do the wrong thing for the right reason. But “goodness is doing the right thing for the right reason.”
I like that definition. If we agree with it we can see there is both an internal and external component to goodness. A person who is right-hearted or possessing the right internal motivation will naturally do the right things.
If goodness is worked into our lives it is definitely supernatural because like the Apostle Paul says in Romans 7:18, “Nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” Goodness is a transformation deep down, several layers inside our soul, where God’s Spirit rules and reigns to the point that we don’t just want to enjoy life, and enjoy relationships with people, and enjoy our work and leisure, but we want to live good lives. We want to have integrity. We want to make the right choices every time there is a choice to make. We want to please God by being stewards of all life brings to us. Goodness is about our intentions and the purity of our hearts. It is about living honestly and always seeking to do the right thing.
It is this two-fold fruit of goodness that works in us in order that it can work through us. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
We are saved to become good in order to do good works so that we can point people to the goodness of God. One NT character in particular that was praised for his goodness was Barnabas. Look at what Acts 11:24 says about Barnabas: “He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.”He was a good man because he was full of the Holy Spirit who produces goodness in us. He was generous with his possession (Acts 4:32-37). He was glad to see other people progress, and wasn’t jealous of them (Acts 11:23). He was an encourager of other people which is how he acquired his name! Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement.” His goodness translated into souls for the Kingdom! It doesn’t get more productive than that. That’s what fruit does. It produces. And the fruit of goodness produces spiritual, kingdom results in the lives of people around us.
Is your spouse closer to Christ because of the goodness in your life? Are your kids growing in grace because of the goodness on display in your life? While kindness might open the door for the world to see the face of Christ, goodness is the way to encourage them to come close enough to embrace Christ.
Developing the Fruit of the Spirit called patience, kindness, and goodness will build your faith, perseverance, sensitivity and discernment which will make you a better friend, spouse, parent, and sibling. Developing the Fruit of the Spirit called kindness will strengthen your relationships as you build positive experiences into the lives of people you love. They won’t forget those acts of kindness. Developing the Fruit of the Spirit called goodness will translate into spiritual growth in your closest relationships and will cultivate a spiritual reputation which will open the door for Kingdom Conversations that bear much fruit. Will you join me in praying for Holy Spirit domination and fruit in your lives in order to transform your closest relationships and the world around you?