Sermon Presented on 06-15-13


           This is the fifth in a series of sermons I am doing on the fruit of the Spirit.  Bearing fruit demonstrates our being disciples of Christ and by bearing fruit we also glorify the Father as Jesus said in John 15:8.  The fruit we bear is defined by how we conduct ourselves before God and man.  The ability to bear fruit is related to allowing the Spirit of God to be manifest in our behavior.  In 2nd Timothy 1:7 we read that that God’s Spirit is a Spirit of power, love and self discipline as the NIV translates it. 

       It is instructive that while the Greek word translated “power” in this passage can mean inherent power such as is true with God, this word also means strength, ability, and the putting forth of effort.  Expressing the Spirit of God in our behavior is to show strength, ability and effort.  The Greek translated love in this passage is agape which we covered in detail in sermon two of this series.

      It is apparent from the Scriptures that agape is a very active and outgoing form of love that is heavy on deeds.  It is a love that shows itself to always be concerned for the welfare of others regardless of who they are, how they behave or what circumstances they may find themselves in.  It is a sacrificial kind of love that is not at all self centered but is outward centered in its preoccupation with the welfare of others even at the expense of ones own comfort and safety.   Love is the most dominant and all encompassing fruit of the Spirit.       

       In the third sermon in this series we looked at what dynamics of behavior must be present to experience joy.  Last time we looked at the third fruit of Paul’s list which is peace. Today we will address the fourth fruit of the Spirit on Paul’s list which is patience.


     Galatians 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

       We all know people who are easily irritated. Some of us may fall into that category.  Some who are easily irritated have no qualms about letting others know it.  They will often express a steady stream of grumbling, carping and griping about just about everything.  Some will frequently display an attitude of disgust at the real or imagined limitations of others or the failure of others to meet certain standards of conduct.   Some blow up in red-faced fury at the slightest inconvenience.  Some will emit a torrent of invective when things don’t go as intended. Others will not express a great deal of outward impatience but will experience a great deal of internal agitation when things don’t go as planned.  Under the breath expression of invective over displeasure's of life is quite common.

       If I were to produce a scale of one to ten, with ten representing extreme impatience and one representing great patience, it would be interesting were we each one of us would place ourselves on such a scale. 

       Patience is a fruit of the Spirit and as such is an attribute of behavior that is exhibited when we choose to express the Spirit of God as opposed to just allowing our human spirit to rule our behavior.  Our human spirit is often conditioned by the unrighteousness extant all around us.  Consequently we learn behavior that is contrary to righteousness and often display that behavior instead of choosing to be led by the Spirit of God which is a Spirit of righteousness

       Romans 8:5-9:  Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.  Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.  You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.

       Paul made it clear that we must pursue behavior engendered by the Spirit of God and not behavior generated by a human nature that is often quite corrupted due to the sinful world we are constantly exposed to.  Paul made it clear that we must choose to activate the Spirit of God if we are to live by the Spirit of God.

       2 Timothy 1:6-7:  For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline.  

        1 Thessalonians 5:19:  Quench not the Spirit.

       Activating the Spirit of patience is probably the most difficult behavioral challenge we face on a daily basis.  We live in a world that seems to make many demands on our time and we interact with people on a daily basis who may have different agendas and lifestyles that clash with our agenda and life style and this often leads to impatience with people and impatience with things in general.   

      The Greek word Paul uses in Galatians 5:22 and rendered “patience” in the NIV is makrotumia.  It has the general meaning of perseverance, patience and being steadfast.  It can also mean slow to avenge a wrong.  Some translations render this word as “long suffering” as is true in the KJV.   This word is found 14 times in the NT.   

        Writers of the NT also use the Greek word hupomonee.  This word has pretty much the same meaning as makrotumia and is found 32 times in the NT.  It is generally rendered as the English word patience in the KJV but is often rendered as perseverance or endurance in the NIV and some other translations.

       In general, these Greek words show to be patience is to be of a long spirit and not lose heart.  It is to persevere bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles.  To be patient is to bear the offenses and injuries of others and be mild and slow to avenge.  To be patient is to be long-suffering, slow to anger and slow to punish.

       The English word “patience” is generally defined as bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune or pain without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.  Another English definition is to express the ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.  It is this last definition that presents the greatest challenge to most of us. 

       Suppressing restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay is something we face on almost a daily basis.  This time of the year we are challenged daily to exercise patience by just driving down the street.  As we all know we only have two seasons in Wisconsin.  We have the winter season and we have road construction season.  Right know we are in road construction season.  Just driving down the street and dodging orange barrels can be a real challenge to exercising patience.  This brings up an important point about the virtue of patience.  The exercise of patience is a virtue only when discomfort is involved.  For example:

       Say you are waiting for a friend to arrive for dinner.  Your friend said he would be at your house by 5 P.M.  It is now 6 P.M. and he still hasn’t arrived.  In the mean time dinner is getting cold.  Now if you spent the time waiting for you friend happily reading a book or watching television you would not be exercising patient as the fact your friend hasn’t arrived has not caused you to complain, be annoyed, irritated or provoked. 

       If, however, you felt irritation and annoyance over the fact your friend was late for dinner, how you handle that irritation and annoyance will determine whether you are exercising patience.  If you start to fume and fuss, think bad thoughts about your friend, and in general develop a bad attitude over your friend being late, this would demonstrate a lack of patience.  Patience involves enduring discomfort without complaint.

        We often suffer discomfort because of the actions of other people.  We may be disrespected, lied to, discriminated against and suffer the hurt feelings and anger that such behavior toward us often generates.  We have the choice of retaliating or exercising patience in dealing with a trying situation.  Sometimes we do our best to accommodate the negative behavior of others and we still end up being persecuted.  What should our response be?

       1 Peter 2:19-21: For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.  To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.  

       Here we see patience to be directly connected to our calling!  Patience is viewed as we following in the footsteps of Jesus who demonstrated great patience when confronted with the persecution he was regularity confronted with by the religious leaders of His day. 

       Therefore, one way the dynamic of patience is to be understood is in relationship to how we respond to persecution.  Jesus was persecuted for doing good.  Jesus endured suffering for doing good.  We are to patiently suffer persecution for doing good.   We, too, are called to suffer for righteousness sake.

       Hebrews 12:2-3: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured (Greek: hupomeno) the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

       2 Timothy 3:10-12: You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings--what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

       The essence of persecution lies in subjecting the Christian to injury or disadvantage because of his beliefs.  Persecution may take many forms, but it is usually more than someone merely presenting counter-arguments to ones Christian convictions.  Just because someone disagrees with you on a particular doctrinal issue is not persecution.  Persecution involves inflicting some type of injury, either physical or psychological.  It is to put someone at a disadvantage or place someone in an unfavorable position.

       Persecution can take on many forms. There can be injury to the Christian's feelings or to his or his family’s reputation.  There can be injury to property, liberty or influence. Persecution may be in the form of depriving one of an office or position one is qualified for.  Persecution may be in the form of discrimination.  Persecution can lead to a fine, imprisonment, banishment, torture or even death.

       Both Peter and Paul warn us that we who make a profession of Christianity must be prepared for persecution. It goes with the territory.  We are not to shrink from it, but bear it patiently as Christ did.  

       So one way we are expected to express patience in our behavior is to endure persecution for the sake of Christ and the Christian lifestyle that proceeds from following the way of righteousness. 

        2 Timothy 2:8-10: Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's word is not chained. Therefore I endure (hupomonee) everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

       Like Jesus, Paul had to endure and be patient with a great deal of offenses.  We know from the Scriptural record that Paul was beaten, imprisoned, and constantly maligned for preaching the Gospel.  I am sure these offenses upset and angered him.  Yet, like Christ, Paul expressed wisdom and restraint in not retaliating.

       Proverbs 19:11: A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.     

       Patience can actually be a very powerful positive dynamic in cooling a adversarial relationship or situation.  We humans are often quick to retaliate in word or deed to a real or perceived offense.  Yet a patient approach can lead to a positive solution and even persuade an authority to see things our way.

       Proverbs 25:15: Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.  

       Another way we are to express patience is to give some space and time to those who are trying to turn things around in their lives.  We have an example of this in the Scriptures.  In this example we not only see the expression of patience but patience leading to forgiveness.

        Matthew 18:24: "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.  Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. "The servant fell on his knees before him. `Be patient with me,' he begged, `and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

       Here we see the delinquent servant begging for patience on the part of his master and not only does the master show patience with his servant but he has pity on him and forgives him the debt.  Now this parable is meant to demonstrate God’s patience with us and God’s desire and willingness to forgive and erase the penalty of eternal death we have all incurred because of sin.    

       2 Peter 3:9: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

        It is apparent from the parable Jesus gave that God puts a premium on patience directed toward others who may be struggling with issues in their lives or simple haven’t yet come to understand how to live their life in harmony with righteousness and the overall will of God.  Apostle Paul speaks of how God was patient with him while he was going about persecuting the Church.

       1 Timothy 1:12-16: I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

       It is evident that Jesus, in his glorified state at the right hand of the Father, expressed a great deal of patience with Paul who was going about trying to destroy the very Church Jesus had established.  It is clear that we are to express this kind of patience with those who may behave contrary to righteousness and if we don’t we will be judged accordingly.  We see this demonstrated in the second part of the parable dealing with the forgiven servant. 

       Matthew 18:28-35:  "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii.  He grabbed him and began to choke him. `Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.  "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, `Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.  When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. "Then the master called the servant in. `You wicked servant,' he said, `I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

       While this parable is mainly revealing God’s desire that we be forgiving to our fellow man when they are clearly willing to change, it is evident that patience is a dynamic closely connected to such forgiveness.  We often get upset over the behavior of others who violate accepted standards of behavior or simply behave contrary to conventional wisdom.  We get impatient with people who make boneheaded mistakes.  In expressing impatience over such matters, we often fail to realize that we too make boneheaded mistakes and we too at times fail to measure up to accepted standards and conventional wisdom. 

       Therefore, a key to developing patience is to be honest with ourselves and admit to our own failures.  In so doing we can hopefully develop greater tolerance for the mistakes and indiscretions of others.   This calls for having patience with ourselves.  It has been demonstrated that having a lack of patience with others is often an outcropping of lack of patience with oneself.   We get frustrated with our own failures and end up directing that frustration at others who we perceive as not measuring up to standards we ourselves fail to measure up to.  

       In 1 Corinthians 13, often called the love chapter, Paul instructs that love is patient.  He uses the same Greek word as in Galatians 5 where he speaks of patience being a fruit of the Spirit.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructed us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Since a dynamic of love is patience, and since we are to love both our neighbor and ourselves, it followers that we are to express patience with both ourselves and our neighbor.  Learning to be patient with ourselves can go a long way toward being able to be patient with others. 

       We are to be patient when corrected.  This is probably the most difficult area of all to express patience.  We humans don’t like to be corrected.  We don’t like to admit being wrong.  We tend to bristle when admonished for wrong behavior even when we know deep down that we are wrong.  Pride gets in the way of patiently accepting discipline or correction.  It is a matter of pride over patience rather than patience over pride.  The Scriptures show that patience is better than pride.

       Ecclesiastes 7:8: The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.

       It is instructive that Solomon sees pride as being virtually contrary to patience.  Pride gets in the way of patience.  Pride makes it difficult to be patient because pride limits our options as to how to best respond to a person or situation. Swallowing pride in any given situation can go a long way to facilitating patience. 

        Colossians 3:12: Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

       Patience is routinely mentioned in Scripture as part of those qualities of character that reflect what it means to be a Christian.  Being a Christian involves expressing the attributes of God in our behavior. To express the attributes of God is to express the attributes of the Spirit of God.  Patience is one of those attributes of the Spirit which we should be striving to express as we walk the Christian walk. 

        Next week we will address kindness as a fruit of the Spirit.