“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Friday, September 28, 2007

Patience

In my last post I addressed the lessons on humility that I learned through my recent illness. Today I would like to look at another fruit of the Spirit that I was schooled in -- that is, the fruit of Patience.

Now, anyone who knows me well, knows that I am not the most patient person in the world. I have (had) a tendency to run at a fairly fast rate, being a bi-vocational pastor, a motorcycle enthusiast, and an avid reader, plus many other things, I ran at my own pace and anyone who didn't, needed to get out of the way.

I had actually stopped praying for patience, because I had found that I would be put into situations that required this fruit to be displayed, and I really did not want to have to go through that! Yet, as I stood before the congregation on July 22nd, 2007, and spoke of God's answering prayer in His own way; little did I know that two days later, and for the next 60 days, I would be given a lesson in patience that I would never forget!

Patience sounds like such a wonderful fruit of the Spirit -- "Yes, I want that!" is what we exclaim; yet like humility, this is something that we rarely grasp in its fullness. Patience does not simply mean that we 'put up with' others without complaining. No, patience is much deeper, it is a heart thing -- we actually place OUR desires on the back burner and put others BEFORE us!

Sadly, the church today lacks patience, and it is displayed in the constant squabbling that is going on. Now, I am not talking about disagreeing on a position of doctrine -- I am talking about the squabbling that goes on as we put ourselves and our wants/needs BEFORE those around us.

Paul tells us in Philippians 2:1-4: So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

This is something hat I learned the hard way! When I was powerless to do anything on my own, I had to wait on other people to do for me. I was forced to exercise patience, and what I found was that I began to sense their love and concern for me in a fresh, new way. Maybe they did things in a different way, or at a different pace than I did, but in the end, it all worked out fine.

When we chafe against the fruit of patience, what we are in effect saying, is Look, I don't have time for you and your foolishness, let me SHOW you how this is to be done correctly! An impatient person (such as myself), can be a real boor to be around, and does not reflect the instructions found in many of the Epistles. HAVING to be right, or in charge, or setting the pace can leave many quieter, slower, more introspective people in the dust. These are the very people we need in our churches! No wonder Paul said "On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together..." [1st Corinthians 12:22-26]

How impatience short-changes the church -- the loud, charismatic, strong and controlling often overshadow the others. Now, I will say that being charismatic, or being louder than others is not wrong, but when we combine that with impatience, we find that it makes for a church that is unbalanced. We need each other, the loud fellow and the quiet one, the charismatic personality and the more introverted, the strong, and the weak. Just like the human body needs to have all parts working, so too the church does as well.

The lungs are a very delicate organ, whereas the skin is tougher, yet without both working a human being really cannot sustain life; so it goes in out fellowships! Let those of us who are impatient stop for a minute and look around us -- who are we stepping on, or over in our run to 'do things' for the Church? Let our churches become a place where ALL have a home, where all can be involved in ministry and where all feel like they are part of growing the Kingdom!

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