Led by Gods’ Spirit: A Practical Study of Galatians 5:22–26.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT — “Patience”.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such there is no law.”
Patience is not something we gain easily. It is something that many of us must work on and strive for in our lives, as we try to become like God the Father, the Son and the Spirit. It is the “capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”
We joke about patience – as I was researching this idea of patience online, I asked this question, “What is patience?” One wrote – “a person with great patience is called a HUSBAND.” Others wrote that the person was called A WIFE, A PARENT, A BOSS OR EMPLOYER, an EMPLOYEE . . . In these definitions we find them all pertaining to people, and the relationships they have with others.
We think it is sometimes easier to be patient when we are dealing with things because we have more “control” over the things we use. Yet we try to get these tools or instruments to do something they were not intended to do. Further, we realize that cars break down; we must replace washing machines, dryers, microwaves, ovens, computers, phones . . . because they grow older and wear out due to constant use. We could also consider how our bodies are wearing out daily because of use and misuse.
Our patience is tried and tested because things and events are out of our control. We humans feel that we should be able to control our lives. We try to control our feelings, emotions, and circumstances, yet often it is to no avail. I cannot, by myself, make a change in politics that favors how I think or how I feel. I trust people to do the right thing, but in a culture where “the right thing to do” is constantly shifting because we are drifting (maybe even running) from the standard of right and wrong – GOD’S WORD – we have changed the definition of right and wrong so we are like the people of Isaiah’s day as recorded in Isaiah 5:18-23, “Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, who draw sin as with cart ropes, who say: “Let him be quick, let him speed his work that we may see it; let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near, and let it come, that we may know it!” (Their unbelief in God dared God to judge them – and He did). “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! They changed the meaning of words to justify sin (and we see the same in our country today)!
So, what is a Christian to do?
William Barclay wrote this about patience in his commentary on patience in Galatians 5:22, “Makrothumia; this is a great word. The writer of First Maccabees (8:4) says it was by makrothumia that the Romans became masters of the world, and by that he means the Roman’s persistence which would never make peace with an enemy even in defeat, a kind of conquering patience. Generally speaking, the word is not used of patience in regard to things or events, but in regard to people. Chrysostom said that it is the grace of the man who could revenge himself and does not, the man who is slow to wrath. The most illuminating thing about it is that it is commonly used in the New Testament of the attitude of God towards men (Romans 2:4; 9:22; 1 Timothy 1:16; I Peter 3:20). If God had been a man, he would have wiped out this world long ago; but he has that patience which bears with all our sinning and will not cast us off. In our dealings with our fellow men we must reproduce this loving, forbearing, forgiving, patient attitude of God toward ourselves.”
William Barclay, THE LETTERS TO THE GALATIANS AND EPHESIANS, Daily Bible Study Series, The Westminister Press, Philadelphia, PA. cd 1976 Pgs 50-51)
So, we see that we struggle with patience sometimes with things and events that are out of our control, and we are frustrated because these events did not go the way we wished and hoped. We need to be reminded that God is still in charge, that he has a plan that will bring all things to fruition that He has designed since the beginning of the world.
We must consider as well that the biggest struggle we have, sometimes, is with other people. As I write this, I think of a lady that has been patient with me for forty-two years of my life. She has had to be very patient with me, but she does so because she believes in commitment and love. I love my wife and her commitment – I am what I am due to her love and P A T I E N C E. She deserves the greatest reward of any woman on earth!
I think of another lady that asked me to write this article, and I sent her something totally different. They both must put up with . . . me.
Consider family problems that many times are out of our control. Someone we love makes decisions that are harming themselves and their family. We warn, we plead, we get angry, but they don’t change. Our family can and often does hurt us the most. Are we patient with them? How much will we put up with?
Think about the church family. Sometimes we have squabbles in church because we are family, and we don’t treat one another as if we are family (Or, sadly, maybe we do). Sometimes we treat people outside the church better than those inside the church. Satan loves this!
Then we come to God. What patience he has clearly shown to humanity! We know that Scripture tells us of nation after nation that rose and fell because of sin; even God’s own people, the Jews, had to be punished and taken into captivity. As we read through these events in Scripture, we stand amazed at how much God put up with them; how he warned them through the prophets; how he punished them to cause them to realize what they were doing to themselves. Did they get it? Perhaps during the trials and sufferings they had to face they realized what they did to God and to themselves. Yet God patiently waited on them to come back to him.
Did they get it? Has mankind truly sought God at any time in our history?
Our biggest struggle is with other people, and we must realize that I can and should control my attitude. God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have exemplified patience with all of us. We are still here! We still have opportunities to do better and to be like him.
So, forbear when someone gets on your last nerve. You may have to walk away for a bit and “let off some steam,” but as God has been patient with us, may we learn to be patient with others.
Be tolerant of someone that is testing you, because we don’t know what they have been through. Be tolerant of the person that is learning. We all are much more patient with babies as they begin to walk and talk. In the church we need to be patient with the “new babe in Christ,” and we must help them grow and encourage them to be what God knows they can be for him. We all have been reared in different homes, and taught that things should be a certain way. It is not necessarily wrong (though it is if it is against God’s word), but patient, steadfast love will help the new babe grow and be useful to God and His church if we help them to learn and know their responsibilities.
Exercise restraint before you speak in anger or frustration. Some have suggested counting to one hundred before you say anything, giving yourself a chance to cool off. As we consider God’s patience with the human race, we must try to be patient with those who test us and watch our words. We need to think about them and their growth in the Lord.
And when things do not go our way, when we can’t change what is going on in our lives, resign yourself to what you must deal with, BUT ALWAYS REMEMBER, as a Christian God will help us through it. Consider his patience with each of us, and try to help someone become a better, more useful servant to the Master.
For further study consider the following passages. Look at the context, and ask God to help you as have to deal with these things that test your spirit and heart.
Romans 12:12 2 Peter 3:9 Romans 8:25 Proverbs 15:18
Ephesians 4:2 Psalms 37:7-9 Colossians 3:12-13 1 Timothy 1:16
Galatians 6:9 1 Corinthians 13:4 Romans 2:4 Hebrews 10:36
Philippians 4:6 Isaiah 40:31 Proverbs 14:29 Exodus 34:6
Ecclesiastes 7:8-9 Psalms 40:1 Psalms 103:8 2 Peter 3:15
James 1:19 Proverbs 16:32
GALATIANS 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”