The Fruit of the Spirit
We live in a world where we want everything now! We have fast food, fast cash, and we want fast action from God. God knows that we need time to learn and grow. In John 16:12-13, Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” In the Old Testament, God blessed Israel little by little so they could learn to handle their blessings. We read in Exodus 23:29-30, “I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land.” “The Lord your God will clear away these nations before you little by little. You may not make an end of them at once, lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you” (Deuteronomy 7:22). And in Isaiah 40:30-31, the Bible says, “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
The waiting is the hardest part. Is it possible that we struggle with patience? The truth is, we are often impatient. We want results now. Phillips Brooks once said, “The trouble is that I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t.” Margaret Thatcher said, “I am extraordinarily patient provided I get my way in the end.” In Romans 5:2-3, Paul wrote, “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance…” Some versions translate “endurance” as “patience.” Suffering produces patience. Paul understood that as we face challenges in life our patience will be tested. As we continue to endure those difficulties, our patience becomes stronger in resolve. The challenge for us is to wait on the Lord. We must learn to wait on God. But the reality is we struggle with patience in many ways.
We struggle with patience in God’s answers to our prayers. Think about Job. He thought God wasn’t listening. “I cry to you for help and you do not answer me...” (Job 30:20). God was hearing Job, but God was on a different timetable. Job 42:12 says, “And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.” Moses heard the cry of the Israelites in Egypt, but it was 40 years later when he stood in Pharaoh’s court.
We struggle with patience in gaining wisdom and maturity. James 1:5 has no timetable. James wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Wisdom grows like a plant. It’s been said that “Maturity is the ability to do a job whether or not you are supervised, to carry money without spending it, and hearing an injustice without wanting to get even.”
We also struggle with patience in gaining wealth and financial security. The proverbs warn about a “fast buck”. “An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end” (Proverbs 20:21). “A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished” (Proverbs 28:20). “A stingy man hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him” (Proverbs 28:22). Financial security is best gained little by little.
Finally, we struggle with patience in gaining honor and prestige. We have a difficult time separating our heroes from our celebrities. Honoring celebrity is a dangerous thing. Proverbs 26:1 says, “Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool.” True honor comes out of humility, and it comes at the proper time. In 1 Peter 5:6, Peter wrote, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…”
Patience is a virtue, and we must strive for patience in our spiritual journey. Committing ourselves to living according to the Spirit, allowing God to transform the way we think and live, will help us display patience, even in the most difficult times in life. There are four simple things we can do to strengthen our resolve and increase our patience.