by D. Greg Ebit
 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
The annual cost of people running red lights in the United States is $7 billion. The average amount of time saved by running a red light is only 50 seconds. How much might a minute saved cost you?
Yes, this morning we are going to focus on patience. I’ve often heard people say, “Don’t pray for patience because it’s too painful!” Or others who have prayed, “Lord please give me patience . . . and I want it NOW!” Whether you are reluctant to pray for patience or if you want patience in a hurry, you are not likely to develop much fruit until you have a change of heart. What you need is a better understanding of what patience really is and how it works in our lives.
What is patience?
How many of you know when we talk about patience there are a lot of different ideas that come to mind? Patience can be:
o Endurance or staying power, an inner strength
o Tolerance or lack of complaint, a still calmness
o Persistence or personal fortitude, a willingness to wait
But what is patience . . . what is the fruit of the Spirit known as patience? Is it all of these things, or is it something else altogether?
For starters let’s remember, we’re talking about the FRUIT of the Spirit not fruits! Paul lists nine different expressions of the Spirit, but they are all one fruit. The fruit is all connected to each other.
Love is the blossom; love is where the fruit of the Spirit begins. Without love there is no fruit. In the same way you will not have cherries without cherry blossoms, or apples without apple blossoms, you cannot have the fruit of the Spirit without love.
The first thing the Spirit does within our lives is to put the love of God within us. Remember also that we are talking about the fruit of the Spirit and not the fruit of the saints. Apart from the Spirit of God these characteristics cannot be fully developed in our lives.
We have said joy is love rejoicing; peace is love resting—love trusting. Patience is love enduring; it’s love that is durable and lasting. Patience is love that is not easily broken.
How many of us would like to receive that kind of love from the people in our lives? Guess what . . . you will most often receive the love you give! When we think of patience as love enduring—a love that is not easily broken, then we are all more likely to want it!
Does this fit with what the Bible says? Paul wrote to the Galatians, “The fruit of the Spirit is . . . patience.” What did he mean by patience? Well for starters let’s remember Paul didn’t write the Bible in English! It was written in Greek. The fruit of the Spirit we are calling patience has also been translated into English as longsuffering, forbearance, and serenity.
What is this fruit of the Spirit? Is it really love enduring, a love not easily broken?
The Bible uses four different Greek words that are translated in various ways as patience. Each of these words emphasizes one aspect in one way or another of what we think of as patience. Because it’s “Greek to me” and you too we’re not going to look at all four of these words; we are only going to look the word Paul used as the fruit of the Spirit.
Paul said the fruit of the Spirit is “makrothymia.” This is a compound Greek word made up of the words “makro” meaning long, and “thymia” meaning anger. So literally it means LONG TO ANGER as opposed to “oxythymia” which means sudden anger.
We all know people who “have a short fuse.” They are quick tempered and easily angered. Let’s be honest; I have found “oxythymia” sudden anger looking back at me in the mirror sometimes; my fuse has sometimes been cut short. Am I the only one?
That’s why we need the fruit of the Spirit; we need “makrothymia;” we need a long fuse, to be slow to anger. Patience is the prolonged control of anger or restrained wrath.
Do you see now why patience or longsuffering, forbearance or serenity, whatever you may want to call it is really LOVE ENDUREING? Patience is a love that lasts; it is durable and will not be easily broken.
The Picture of Patience
• Matthew 18:21-35 (MsgB)
At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”
 Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.
 “The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants.  As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars.  He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
 “The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ’Give me a chance [be patient with me] and I’ll pay it all back.’  Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
 “The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ’Pay up. Now!’
 “The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ’Give me a chance [be patient with me] and I’ll pay it all back.’  But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid.  When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.
 “The king summoned the man and said, ’You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy.  Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’
 The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt.  And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”
The responsibility of the servant to forgive is not dependant upon ordinary human emotion and feelings. The servant is not expected to show mercy because he is relieved and overjoyed that his debt has been canceled. Instead the responsibility to be merciful is directly linked to attitude shown to him by his master. Because the king was patient with his servant, the servant should follow the example and lifestyle of the king. In other words the servant should be patient with his fellow servants whether he feels like it or not simply because the master has been patient with him.
God has been patient with us. His anger and wrath have been restrained. He has not treated us as we deserve to be treated for our sin. Because God is patient with us, He expects us to be patient with each other. This is why Jesus has given us His Spirit to live within us. The Spirit empowers us to live like Jesus; the fruit of the Spirit is “makrothymia” long to anger—patience.
The Purpose of Patience
The obvious question is: WHY IS GOD PATIENT WITH US, and in turn why does God want us to be patient with others?
• Romans 2:4 (NIV)
Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
What is God’s purpose for being patient with us? God’s patience leads us to repentance. As the wrath of God is restrained we are given the opportunity to become friends of God. Look how the Message Bible puts this verse:
• Romans 2:4 (MsgB)
Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.
As a father I have taken my children firmly in hand from time to time. Sometimes I take hold of them when they have disobeyed to teach them obedience, but at other times I have taken hold of them to lead them to safety. I still take Mikey by the hand when we walk through a parking-lot or go across the street. Because I’m bigger than he is I can see things that he won’t see. While I may have to walk a little slower with Mikey at my side, together we arrive safely across the street.
God is patient with us; He has taken us by the hand, not to pour out His wrath. God takes us by the hand to lead us into a radical life-change, a life of repentance whereby we can have a relationship with God.
• 2 Peter 3:9 (MsgB)
God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself [He is patient] on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.
God has a single goal for each of us, for all 6 billion plus of us living today on planet earth. God does not want us to be separated from Him for all eternity; He loves us so much He wants to spend all eternity together with us. Therefore He is patient; He withholds His wrath giving everyone time to repent. Notice what Peter then says:
• 2 Peter 3:15 (MsgB)
Interpret our Master’s patient restraint for what it is: salvation.
The goal and purpose of God’s patience is salvation! God wants’ us to have an intimate and loving relationship with Him!
That’s also why God wants us to have patience! As we live a lifestyle of patience God will use us to reconcile men to God as well as our own personal relationships with family and friends.
The Practical Practice of Patience
EVERY FRUIT I KNOW OF HAS A PROTECTIVE OUTER LAYER. We peel a banana or orange to eat the fruit inside. Others fruit like an apple or grape we will eat skin and all. The outer layer serves an important purpose; it helps keep the moisture inside the fruit . . . even in dry seasons. The outer peel will also protect the fruit and allow it to grow. If the outer peel or skin is broken or removed, then the fruit will rot and spoil.
Patience is like that for the soul of man. Patience protects our hearts from becoming rancid—bitter and rotten to the core. God wants our lives to be sweet and appealing to others; that’s the purpose of the fruit of the Spirit to give our lives the aroma and taste of Jesus!
The practical practice of patience restores and protects relationships. Godly patience enables us to show mercy instead of hate, to forgive instead of seek revenge.
“Patience is the ability to put up with people you’d like to put down.” Ulrike Ruffert
I have often said, “We must learn to trust the heart and when necessary forgive the hands.” Pinch your neighbor and guess what, you will probably feel good about it and they will say “Ouch!” Why? We are all human!
Hurting others comes naturally to us! The longer you are in relationship with other people eventually you will be hurt. That’s when you need to trust their heart and forgive the hands—to be patient, slow to anger.
And guess what, it is not an option! Remember the servant who begged his master to be patient with him. Because the king was slow to anger and forgave the debt the servant should follow the example of his master and do likewise.
• Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Patience is love enduring; it’s love that lasts and won’t be broken by anger. We are to be patient; with a long fuse we give allowances for each other’s faults and shortcomings.
• Colossians 3:12-13 (NIV)
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Patience is not idleness; it doesn’t mean you do nothing. Patience is active. The patient man is always ready to meet his neighbor halfway; instead of building fences, patience builds bridges to maintain relationships.
Further, patience is not simply a character trait or quality an individual may possess. PATIENCE IS A LIFESTYLE! It is a way of life that affects all our relationships. Patience is an expression of love because love is patient.
Patience, being slow to anger enables us to live a good life. Patience will keep us from embarrassing ourselves by what we say or do.
• Proverbs 14:29 (NIV)
A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.
- Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding; a quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity. Proverbs 14:29 (MsgB)
Some of the stupidest things I have done were at times when my fuse was short and I lost my temper! Am I the only one? We have all done some things we would rather not talk about.
God wants to lengthen our fuse; He wants to enable us by His Spirit to be slow to anger, to restrain our wrath. Why?
God is patient to lead us to repentance; His patience offers us salvation a relationship with God that will last for all eternity. Likewise our patience with others is to restore and renew our relationships with one another. Further our patience can be used by God to bring others to salvation as well.
• 2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV)
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
You may not be a preacher, but your testimony can be wrecked through impatience, by cutting your fuse short and blowing up in anger. God does not want our lives to be a stumbling block to others. He wants to use our lives to bring others to repentance. That’s an ETERNAL practical practice of patience.
How can we have patience?
 We must be connected to Jesus.
• John 15:5 (MsgB)
I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.
 Remain ever thankful for God’s patience in your life. Being mindful of how God’s patience will remind us of our responsibility to do likewise.
 Ask God for help! Yes, pray for patience. God will equip you to live a lifestyle of patience, or you can face conflict and hurtful relationships on your own.
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