Today's fruit is patience. I cringe at the mere thought of patience. In general, I admit that I am not a very patient person. This served me well while in the workplace, because the lack of patience in the workplace is nicely referred to as a "sense of urgency." Which really means that everything that needs to be done needs to be done yesterday. And that carried over quite easily to my personal life. I'm pretty sure I've always been an impatient person. Once I decide I want to do something, I like to get it rolling and get done with it. Moving is a great example of that. Every time we decide we're moving, I get impatient, because it's such a long process, I want it to be done and over with as fast as possible. And that sense of impatience leads to me being short with those I love and being a bit of a crabby person.
So you can see why patience would be a fruit of the spirit. Here are some verses and what they say about patience.
"Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,
and a gentle tongue can break a bone." Proverbs 25:15
"The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride." Ecclesiastes 7:8
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." 1 Corinthians13:4
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2
Patience is clearly more than just a trifle. Patience can persuade rulers, it is better than pride, it is love, and it is a vehicle for that love. Being patient can open doors where a window was previously shut. There's a joke that runs along among Christians that of all things, you really don't want to ask God to give you patience, because that is the one thing he will most definitely oblige. And you will learn patience good and hard. Ask my parents, who felt God leading them to sell their house so they can move on... and in return, asked for patience for the process. Oh, is God granting them patience as their house is not selling in their time and on their terms. But it will sell... in God's timing.
Patience is something that I am constantly asking God to help me with. And sometimes I feel patient, and sometimes I don't. Right now I am very patient about our living situation. A few months ago, I was not patient. I had a strong sense of wanting to buy a house and getting ready to move, and I really had to pray about that one. And now, I don't feel that urgency. God wants us here yet, and when the time does come to get that house and move, it will be exactly where God wants us to be, and when he wants us to be there. In the meantime, I have been granted a wonderful gift of patience, and in that patience, I have found contentment with where we are.
Patience is also necessary when dealing with other people. Especially in a church that is growing in Christ. Everyone grows and learns in a different manner, and sometimes it can be easy to forget that some things are not second nature to everyone. Where I grew up in a Bible-believing church, and know much of what the Bible has to say, many people do not know those things. Many people in our church today came to know the Lord in their adult life, and it is good for me to remember that and be patient with them in many of our conversations. And when one scripture in particular may be speaking to me, that doesn't mean the same verse is speaking to everyone. It may be meant just for me. Being patient with other believers is a symbol of Christ's love for each other. I pray quite often that God would grant me patience when dealing with issues that involve God's House.
Patience is also very necessary when dealing with the unbeliever. It can be a long drawn out process to lead someone to the Lord, and it's through the Holy Spirit that we can find the patience to share with someone over and over. You never know when that person is going to make the most important decision of their lives, and the last thing you want to do is be impatient and try and force the issue. It can have the opposite effect, and in my mind, patience speaks volumes. That we would care enough about that person to speak with them over and over about Christ and his love, without becoming frustrated or impatient. Patience truly is a virtue, and it can be a tool that we can put to good use.