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Monday, June 23

A Fruity Kind of Patience

Spending time with the Fruit of Peace has been good. I’ve lingered there much longer than I probably should have. I knew what was coming. I can’t say that I didn’t consider changing the next Fruit on the list from patience to procrastination. I’m naturally much more comfortable with procrastination, but I realize that would be more fitting of the Fruit of the Flesh, than the Fruit of the Spirit. So here I am, having dragged my feet to this next stop on my fruity journey.

To be honest with you, I think I kind of forget about patience when I decided to do this study. I’ve always been more like the person who prays, “Lord give me patience, but do it NOW!” Of course, I don’t actually pray that prayer, because I realize that He may grant that prayer by increasing the amount of situations I’m in that require patience. Lord knows, I don’t want that!

Reflecting on my life, I see how I really have grown in the patience department. Maturity, marriage and motherhood have been good on me in that regard. However, I certainly have not gained enough of the Fruit of Patience. Not by a long-shot. In fact, nothing can make me lose my patience quicker than being in traffic. (I swear I don’t know why they let some people drive, but I digress.) Please understand, that as I write this, I truly am preaching to myself here.

There is a reason that patience is listed as a Fruit of the Spirit. One thing we know about God, is that He desires us to live beyond just us. It does us good to think about others and to consider them and not just ourselves. When you really think about it, impatience is controlling, narcissistic, prideful, selfish, and egoistic - all about self. It is about having things our way and now. Often times, we don’t consider, even for a moment that maybe our way isn’t best, or that there may be a good reason for a delay. Maybe sometimes, we even need to just chill out a little and let things go. It says in Proverbs 19:11, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience, and it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”

We live in a fast food, microwaveable, instant gratification society. Credit card companies encourage us to buy now, pay later. Advancing technology allows us to reach out and touch someone, at any time, in any place. Cosmetic surgery gives us the ability to see result in our physical appearance almost immediately. The internet and satellite media gives us world-wide information right now. Isn’t it funny though, that no matter how quickly we get things, or how quickly we travel, it’s never quick enough?

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to observe patience in action, from an unlikely source. Reagan is now nine months old and is learning and growing by leaps and bounds. It amazes me, at how often she shows patience through the learning process. Now it’s not always, I mean the child isn’t perfect, but it is incredibly often. She typically tries things over and over again, with a cheerful spirit. Particularly if the ‘thing’ she is trying is chasing our cat! Though they are still much quicker than her, it’s like she knows someday that will change, if she just keeps at it. I’m astonished at how much patience she shows when she is tired or hungry or getting a bath (especially the washing and drying of her hair). It’s like she instinctively understands, “The end of a matter is better than the beginning, and patience is better than pride.” Eccl. 7:8

There are times when a situation maybe justifies that we are indeed correct in our analysis of said situation. We may actually be right. If we witness or experience an interaction with a person who is driving dangerously, for instance, we know that that individual is driving/behaving badly. However, whatever is in our own hearts is what dictates how we respond to that. Do we let it go, or do we take it personally and let it actually affect us for a period of time? What about with our family? If we continually treat poorly and snap at our loved ones because of something they are doing or not doing, are we not then putting the importance of that activity above the importance of our loved one? Is it really necessary to be right all the time and at any cost? Some say they are most impatient with their loved ones because their relationship gives them that freedom, that they don’t have to mind what they say or do, but I think we should treat them with more patience because we love them.

In truth, growing our patience is growing our grace for others. Growing our patience is developing good character. And growing our patience teaches us that it’s not ‘all about me’. Of course there are times we do have to correct and train, but we know most people respond better with patience and understanding rather than impatience and contempt. There will always be things we want our way and in our time, but if we choose to grow our patience through these times, just think of how much better off we will be! The Bible says we can clothe ourselves with patience – that means we can make a conscious choice to put it on. It says in Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” If it’s still difficult to do, think about God and the patience He offers us daily. I know I’m grateful for that patience, and the best (but certainly not easiest) way to show Him that I am, is to extend that same type of patience to others.

“We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, ‘The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.’ Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15: 1-6

© 2008 Tracy Keck


LauraLee Shaw said...

Wowzer! That's some fresh fruit!!!! Thank you for continuing this series. It's ripe for my hungry spirit right now.

Josh said...

I too recently covered patience a bit in my Study of James. It amazes me how many Christians (myself included) cringe at the sound of that word. it is very easy to overlook this fruit while reading off the list. However, it is through patience that we truly learn to rely 100% on God. After all, if you don't have someone there to always hand you immediate results, then you are going to have turn elsewhere for help and answers.

Thankfully, I have found that the more I learn patience, the easier it becomes. At first it feels like God is cornering me into waiting on him, but the more I do it, the less I feel forced to be patient. It starts to become a natural reaction to my situations.

I am probably one of the most impatient people on the planet, but I am slowly learning to embrace patience.

Thank you for sharing your wonderful thoughts on this, Tracy. I am loving your series. So insightful and packed full of Heavenly wisdom.