************ Sermon on Galatians 5:22d ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on August 8, 2004
"The Fruit of the Spirit is ... Patience"
Topic: PatienceWe continue our study this morning of the fruit of the Spirit. Spirit-filled Christians and churches – and don't forget, there are no other kinds of Christians or churches – produce the fruit called patience.
Subtopic: Examples of
A few years ago a woman bought a red flowering crabapple tree and carefully planted it in her yard. But it didn't exactly thrive -- in fact, one by one the leaves started dropping off! Her husband Jim failed to see the urgency of the situation. "Give it a little time," he murmured.
The next Spring it did a little better -- it had swelled buds and leaves, but no flowers. "That does it! I'm getting rid of this flowering crabapple!" she sputtered.
Her husband surveyed the scraggly branches. "Maybe this isn't the flowering kind. Some of 'em never blossom, you know."
"But that tag says: Flowering Crabapple, Red!"
The third Spring came. Still no red flowers. But this time her husband took her outside and showed her some tiny clusters of red balls nestled in among the leaves. "Blossoms?" she asked, incredulous.
"Blossoms!" he said.
Now, as she watches the little red tree become brilliant with color, it reminds her of how important it is to be patient with other things in her life.
I The Weed to be Rooted Out
A "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... patience." To produce fruit, to reap a harvest, the farmer or gardener needs to root out the weeds that take away from the crops. To produce fruit, to reap a harvest, the Christian needs to root out the weeds that take away from the crops our Divine Gardener looks for. When it comes to patience the great weed to be rooted out is impatience.
A Texas minister was scheduled to speak at an all-day conference. He was running late because he forgot to set his alarm. In his haste to make up for lost time he cut himself while shaving. Then he got some of the blood on his white shirt and had to change shirts. To make matters worse, running to his car he noticed his tire was flat. He changed the tire. He got some dirt on his shirt and changed it again.
Disgusted and distraught the minister finally got underway with a burst of speed. He pushed the speed limit and came to a "rolling stop" at a stop sign. Of course, a policeman was following and stopped him.
Jumping out of the car, the agitated minister said sharply, "Well, go ahead and give me a ticket. Everything else has gone wrong today." The policeman walked up and said quietly, "Sir, I used to have days like that before I became a Christian."
Needless to say, the minister was shamed by the stranger's rebuke and realized again he had a problem with impatience.
Why is it that tires go flat when we are in a hurry to keep an appointment? Why does the vacuum cleaner stop working the day when company is coming? Why do you discover at 2 o'clock you are out of a vital ingredient for a pie or cake you have to have ready by 3 o'clock? Why is the plane delayed as you wait at the airport for 2 or 3 or even 5 extra hours causing broken engagements or changes in plan? Why does something on the dairy break down on Sunday morning when you are rushing to finish your chores and make it to worship? But more important, why are we so unhappy and frustrated when these things occur?
In essence our resentment is against the timetable which the sovereign God has assigned to us, a schedule based upon a plan He has for our lives. To us the delay, loss, or failure seems senseless or useless or wasteful and leaves us frustrated or angry. But God – Who is sovereign, Who remains in control – has a purpose for all the things He allows in our lives. Impatience, when we think about it, leaves God out of our thinking. It is a kind of practical atheism.
King Saul is an example of someone who was impatient with God's timetable. The Philistines has assembled to fight Israel. Their army was bigger and better equipped than Israel's. Samuel had told Saul to wait for seven days. At that time Samuel would offer a burnt offering before the battle. Saul waited and waited for Samuel to appear. He watched his army dwindle in size and his men become more and more scared while the Philistines became bolder and stronger. Saul became impatient and offered the sacrifice himself. Of course, just as Saul finished Samuel appeared on the scene and rebuked him for his impatience. Saul's impatience showed a distrust of God and a spirit of self-assertion in the face of God's commands. Samuel had to declare that Saul was no longer fit to be king (1 Sam 13:8ff).
This impatience with God's timetable needs to be rooted out.
B "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... patience." Some people also show impatience under trial. James writes about some rich people who mistreated and oppressed their employees. Some of the workmen became very impatient with the treatment they received and appeared ready to rebel. "Be patient," said James. "Be patient under trial" (James 5:7).
We also tend to become impatient under trial. When we or a loved one are struggling with a disease and there is set-back after set-back, it is so easy to become impatient. When we feel overwhelmed by one trial after another – money problems and marital problems and business problems and problems with the children – it is so easy to become impatient. When we go from one controversy to another – and become the subject of accusations, doubts, questions, and gossip – we tend to become impatient.
James' advice: "Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming" (James 5:7). The time of judgment will come. And at that time the Great Judge will make all wrongs right, will punish the wicked, and will reward the righteous. To be impatient, to take matters into our own hands, either denies God's right to judge or denies His ability to judge.
This impatience under trial needs to be rooted out.
C "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... patience." There are also those who show impatience with another's weakness or faults or viewpoints. James writes about Christians who murmur and complain and grumble against each other so he urges patience among the saints (James 5:9).
There are those within the church who expect new Christians to live at the same level of spiritual maturity as those who have been born into the faith. There are those within the church who require adult conduct from children. This is nothing but impatience with the spiritual growth of others.
There are also members within the church who are very impatient with those whose opinions or viewpoints are different from theirs. There may be a right or a wrong but the matter is not that important to the faith. In such instances, says Paul in Romans 14, it is more important to have peace and harmony, to show love and patience, than to insist on your own way. To insist on your own way in such instances is to show impatience.
This weed of impatience also needs to be rooted out.
D "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... patience." Finally, there is the impatience, the abruptness, that we show to our loved ones. For instance, I can be very patient with people in the church – so much so that often I surprise myself – and yet have no patience at home.
This is usually the case, isn't it?! We can be patient and polite with customers, with milk inspectors, with the mailman, with neighbors, with the boss, but we fail to show patience to those closest to us – our own families.
This sin of impatience needs to be rooted out as well.
II The Fruit to be Cultivated
A "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... patience." In contrast to impatience, the fruit of the Spirit is patience. The seed of new life which the Spirit has planted within us should lead to a harvest of patience.
What can we say about patience?
We've been looking at the fruit of the Spirit for 5 sermons now. It is becoming obvious to me that the fruit are inter-related. None of the fruit stand alone. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control support and are supported by each other. When we think of patience we can't help but think of love, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. In fact, without these other fruit one cannot be patient.
B "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... patience." The Bible tells us that patience can have no limit. I think of Peter, who wanted to put a limit on human patience. Remember his question: "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" (Mt 18:21). Jesus' answer: "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." In other words, we are to show limitless forgiveness and patience to each other, just as God shows to us.
There is an Old Testament phrase that is used more than once to describe God. He is "slow to anger" (Ex 34:6; Num 14:18; Neh 9:17; Ps 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Nah 1:3). He is patient. And, we are to be like Him.
Subtopic: Promises of Divine
Title: Strike Me Dead!
When the infidel Robert G. Ingersoll was delivering his lectures against Christ and the Bible, his oratorical ability usually assured him of a large crowd. One night after an inflammatory speech in which he severely attacked man's faith in the Savior, he dramatically took out his watch and said, "I'll give God a chance to prove that He exists and is almighty. I challenge Him to strike me dead within 5 minutes!" First there was silence, then people became uneasy. Some left the hall, unable to take the nervous strain of the occasion, and one woman fainted. At the end of the allocated time, the atheist exclaimed derisively, "See! There is no God. I am still very much alive!"
After the lecture a young fellow said to a Christian lady, "Well, Ingersoll certainly proved something tonight!" Her reply was memorable. "Yes, he did," she said. "He demonstrated that even the most defiant sinner cannot exhaust the patience of the Lord in just 5 minutes!" (Romans 9:22)
C "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... patience." When the Bible talks about patience it often mentions the second coming of Christ (Lk 21:19ff; Rom 8:25; 1 Thess 1:3; 2 Thess 3:5; Heb 10:36; James 5:7). In our Scripture reading the Apostle James makes our understanding of patience more concrete by giving us three examples of patience as we await the second coming when everything will be set right.
In verse 7 James holds before us the picture of a farmer as the first example of patience:
(James 5:7-8) Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. (8) You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.Every farmer knows that the time for harvest cannot be hastened. There are physical laws that govern the growing and ripening of crops and all that the farmer can do is wait patiently (HOLD UP JAR). When it comes to life, we have to have the patience of the farmer. What is true for the physical realm is true for the spiritual realm too: when it comes to spiritual fruit we have to be patient like the farmer.
Think of David. He had been anointed as king in Saul's place. Saul was pursuing him and trying to kill him. David had more than one opportunity to kill Saul but David understood he would get the throne in God's time, not his. David was patient.
In verse 10 James holds before us the picture of a martyr as the second example of patience:
(James 5:10) Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. To suffer for Jesus, to suffer for doing good, to suffer because you seek God rather than men, requires patience, great patience. James urges us to have that kind of patience and endurance and perseverance.
In verse 11 James holds before us the picture of Job as the third example of patience:
(James 5:11) As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.We all know about Job's patience. In a test from Satan Job lost his wealth, his servants, his crops and camels, his home, his precious children. Job did not know, he did not understand, what was happening to him. Those around him urged him to curse God and die. But Job refused their counsel. He was patient before God.
This is a reminder that God does not always tells us the why of our circumstances. We don't know why Johanna Jacobsma died the way she did. We don't know why Marietta is disabled. We don't know why a number of ladies in our church have suffered breast cancer. We don't know why some members have recurring health problems. We can ask "Why? Why God? Why?" But often we aren't told. God often doesn't reveal to us His secret things. But He does expect us to have great patience when circumstances appear to be against us. Says James, "we consider blessed those who have persevered" (James 5:11).
D "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... patience." Patience, like the other fruit of the Spirit, is something to be cultivated. Like a farmer with his crops, we need cultivate the fruit of patience (HOLD UP JAR).
How do we cultivate patience? The same way we cultivate the other fruit: Bible reading, prayer, worship, the fellowship of other Christians who encourage us in our walk with God.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is ... patience."
Subtopic: Examples of
In his book "The Uttermost Star", F.W. Boreham told about attending a farewell service for a minister who was leaving a church he had pastored for 20 years. Several preachers attended, and each eloquently extolled the pastor's virtues. Boreham commented that he had forgotten everything said that day except for a simple statement made by a man who was not even scheduled to speak. The man had asked permission to say a word, and in a single sentence had paid his pastor this compliment, "I have seen him nearly every day of my life for 20 years, and I've never seen him in a hurry!" After the service, the minister said he considered that tribute to be the most gratifying. He took it as an indication that over the years he had truly learned to wait patiently upon the Lord.
Contrast this minister to most of us today. We are always in a hurry. We never have the time to smell the roses or to enjoy the children. Many people today even rush through their vacations.
The Spirit of God has spoken to us today. It tells us that Spirit-filled Christians and churches – and again I remind you this is the only kind of Christian and church – are patient. For the fruit of the Spirit is patience.
Do you have this fruit?
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