Police arrested Evelyn Mills Moore from Kings Mountain for beating another woman with a Bible. She was charged with inflicting serious injury. Police said she was a real Bible-thumper. Apparently Mrs. Moore did not possess the fruit of the Spirit of patience. But do we?
Chuck Swindoll wrote of this common scene: It’s dinner-out-with-the-family night. You’ve fasted most of the day so you can gorge tonight. You’re given a booth and a menu but the place is terribly busy and two waitresses short. You’ve drunk your water and everyone else’s in your party and still no order is taken yet. You’re delayed. How do you respond?
Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).
J. Hudson Taylor, famous missionary to China, used to gather new missionaries around him when they arrived in China, so that he could have a personal talk with them, giving them instructions on orientation. On one occasion he took a new worker with him into a Chinese eating-house. As they sat at the little table, Mr. Taylor filled a glass with water—right up to the brim. While they were talking, to the young recruit’s astonishment, the senior missionary struck the table with a sharp blow and the water spilled out onto the table.
“Now,” said Mr. Taylor, “You will get many a jolt and many a hard blow here in the work. Be prepared for that, for remember that when you get a jolt like that, there will spill out of you by that jolt, what is in you.”
1. God is Patient
Just about all the Fruit of Spirit are attributes of God. He can produce this fruit in us because these virtues are in Him. God is patient or longsuffering. Many times in the Old Testament, it is said that God “is slow to anger.” For example: Exodus 34:6-7; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15; 103:8; 145:8. In 2 Peter 3:9, God is said to be longsuffering with sinners “not willing that any should perish.”
Christ was patient with His enemies. Jesus was falsely accused in Matthew 26:57-63 by slanderous witnesses the night before His crucifixion. They drummed up lies against Him. How did the perfectly innocent Son of God respond? “Jesus held his peace.” Peter, who was standing at a guilty distance, perhaps had this scene in his mind when wrote to persecuted believers in 1 Peter 2:21-24. Peter wrote:
For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judges righteously: Who his own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes we are healed.” None of us is perfectly innocent when we are falsely accused and yet we unlike Christ revile our accusers.
God is patient with sinners so the converted sinner will be patient with other sinners. This was Paul’s testimony in 1 Timothy 1:12-16. God patiently endured Saul’s blasphemy so Paul could with great patience win blasphemers.
2. We Can be Patient if we are Forgiving
We are patient when we are forgiving. Jesus used the word “patience” twice in one of His parables on forgiveness. The parable is in Matthew 18. Peter wanted to limit how many times he forgave someone. But Jesus taught in the parable just as God doesn’t limit how many times He forgives us, we should not put boundaries on our forgiveness. Just as God is patient with us and forgives when we ask so ought we exercise patience with others and forgive them. In the parable the king forgave an exorbitant debt when asked by his debtor. But the newly forgiven debtor would not forgive a much less debt when asked by one of his subordinates. Jesus then pronounced this powerful lesson: “Should not you also have compassion on your fellow servant, even as I had compassion on you?”
Later Paul would write a similar principle but connect this patience of forgiveness to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 4:30 (See study “Stop Living Like Unbelievers”), Paul commanded, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Grieve is a hurt that comes from those we love who injure us.
J. Oswald Sanders wrote, “Grieve is a love word. One can anger an enemy, but not grieve him. The words are mutually exclusive. Only one who loves can be grieved, and the deeper the love the greater the grief” (The Holy Spirit and His Gifts, p. 92).
What are some of the sins that grieve or wound the Holy Spirit who dwells in us and infinitely loves us? Sins that result from not forgiving others: Bitterness, wrath, anger, quarrelling, and slander.
James A. Steward told of a woman who used to testify that she never got angry until she was provoked.
Paul’s remedy for impatience is the same as Jesus’. Paul ended his discussion on grieving not the Holy Spirit by giving us the key to victory: “Be kind one to another, compassionate, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”
Is your impatience the result of nursing an unforgiving spirit? Has your mate, or parent, or child or close friend or co-worker pained and offended you? Remember how much God has forgiven you and daily forgives you. Now let’s return this favor and forgive those who have upset us. Because patience is the fruit of the Spirit, we can’t be grieving Him with unforgiveness. We must yield to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to produce in us His love for others.
Someone wrote sarcastically. If we don’t become patient there is one consolation: The Lord can use us to help others become longsuffering.
In Kimberly, South Africa when diamonds are being treated and polished, they sometimes break. Instead of throwing away these smashed diamonds, the workmen use them to polish other diamonds.
Let’s be the diamonds being polished and more and more conformed to the image of Christ instead of the broken and useless diamonds whose only purpose is to polish others.