Fruit of the Spirit
Greetings precious people. In todayís article I would like for us to pick up where we left off a few weeks ago in looking at the subject of the Fruit of the Spirit as revealed in Godís Word, the Bible. In Galatians 5:22-23, we read, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." This fruit of the Spirit is in contrast with the fruit of the flesh which is found in the preceding verses of Galatians 5:19-21, "Now the works (fruits) of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
Last time we looked at the fruit of Peace. Now letís look at the next fruit mentioned which is Longsuffering. Longsuffering has the meaning of longanimity, forbearance, fortitude, and patience, it is the ability to bear with trials without complaining.
Patience is not a common character trait seen in our society today. Most people it seems are so tense and uptight like an overtightened watch spring that is ready to snap at any moment. Impatience seems to be the norm of our day rather than patience. I was at work the other day doing a full service car wash on a sheriff deputy car when a woman who had been waiting about three minutes sped off yelling at me saying that I was going to take all day on the car.
You can see the impatience everywhere, in the checkout line at the store, at the fast food establishments, and especially on our freeways. We see a great deal of impatience when it comes to relationships. Divorce rate is at an all time high. It is far easier to get a divorce than to work things out and change. There is an all time high drop out rate of our kids from school. It is easier to drop out than to stick with it. Easier has become the preferred choice of most in our society. What many fail to realize is that easier is not always better. We have been told that the new contraptions of our day like computers, cell phones and the like, will make our lives easier and be our servants. Ironically, the opposite has become true; we have become a slave to these things.
The greatest example of patience, longsuffering that can be cited is that of Jesus Christ. As we look at His life while here on earth, we see the epitome of patience. As He spent 3 years and some odd months with His disciples, He taught them, cared for them, met all their needs, and loved them with an unconditional love, yet they, like us just could not "get it". They could not understand the plan and purpose of God. As a result, they found themselves in conflict with His purpose and plan most of the time.
A few instances that stand out are found in the Gospels. In Matt 16:5-12, "Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no bread." But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, "O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?--but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
There were two sisters by the names of Martha and Mary. They had a brother by the name of Lazarus who was sick and near death. The sisters sent word to Jesus that He might come quickly and heal their brother that he not die. Upon receiving their urgent request, Jesus intentionally delayed coming to their house for four days in which time Lazarus died. When Jesus arrived, the sisters were upset with Him, they thought that if He would have come sooner their brother would not have had to die. Little did they know that Jesus knew all along the situation and had something greater for them than merely healing their brother. In John 11:19-44, "Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Then Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to Him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world." And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, "The Teacher has come and is calling for you." As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him. Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, "She is going to the tomb to weep there." Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to Him, "Lord, come and see." Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, "See how He loved him!" And some of them said, "Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?" Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me." Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go."
Had they only had patience and trusted the Lord, they could have foregone so much wasted time being worried and troubled. This often is our problem, because of our impatience we become anxious and full of worry when God would simply have us trust in Him and rest.
Listen to what Godís Word, the Bible has to say about patience. In James 1:2-4, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
God works in the life of every believer to build patience and He does this through the difficulties of life. The more we get to know the great love of God, that all His promises are true and right, the easier it is for us to have patience for we know that God is always faithful and true to His Word.
I would like to leave you with two promises. Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." And 1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."
Precious people, allow God to work in your lives. The Fruit of the Spirit is so much better than the fruit of the flesh. You will enjoy it more and so will those around you. Next time we will continue our study of the Fruit of the Spirit, until then may the Lord richly bless you my beloved.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine