Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fruitful Living - PATIENCE

Review fruit of the Spirit
Tonight.. we are going to investigate another characteristic of the fruit -  Patience.

What would it be like if you didn’t allow the behavior of others to ruin your day?  Patience is inspired by mercy, absent of condemnation and evidence of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. When we are bearing the fruit of patience, people and circumstances do not have the power to ruin our day or rob us of our peace.

There are 2 forms of patience.  One is driven by mercy (makrothumia). Because God has mercy on us, He shows us incredible patience. Because we are becoming more like Him, we reflect His patience to others. Makrothumia is the Greek word used in Galatians 5:22 but we cannot separate this from the other form of patience which is hupomone which possesses the meaning we most often associate with the word patience. This word means ‘to persevere, remain under, bearing up under and refers to that quality of character that does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or give in under trial’. For example: in Heb 10:35-36 we see the use of this definition  “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
A main ingredient to perseverance/to patience is hope! The Greek word for hope means ‘the desire of some good with expectation of obtaining it”. It is definitely more than just a ‘positive thought’ or wish toward something.. the Biblical hope we have is a positive outlook toward an expected end. It is not focused on what ‘might’ happen but what ‘must’ happen – love it! We can keep in mind that hope inspires perseverance – inspires patience – endurance.

Let’s consider a Biblical example of the kind of patience we are talking about here.  How about Job? What were a few of the ‘situations or circumstances’ through which Job persevered? 
(sickness, betrayal of friends, judgment, death, financial ruin)
How could he be patient and persevere? Hope!  Ro 8:28 is true and the refining process that happens through the ‘things’ in life that are rarely comfortable creates a hope for our future and part of that hope can be found in Ro 8:29 “29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

How are we being transformed into the likeness of Christ?  2 Cor 3:188 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Job drew from 2 hopes… hope in the face of pain and tragedy that God was at work - that God had not misplaced or forgotten about him and… Job trusted that God would transform him. What was the second hope?  Job 19:25-27  25 I know that my redeemer[a] lives,
   and that in the end he will stand on the earth.[b]
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
   yet[c] in[d] my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him
   with my own eyes—I, and not another.
   How my heart yearns within me!

In what was Job placing his hope?  Seeing God’s glory.. being in His presence. Job’s heart yearned for that day.

Let’s look at a few other examples and find what appears to be the ‘hope’ inspiring the perseverance/ patience:
Heb 10:35-36 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Heb 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

2 Tim 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

“Without hope, no patience, without patience, no maturity, without maturity, no reflection, and without reflection, no glory.”   Col 1:27 – tells us – Christ in us, the hope of glory.

We have been talking mostly about the Greek word hupomone/ patience.. now let’s discuss makrothumia which means long suffering; self-restraint before proceeding to action. It is the quality of a person who is able to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so. It is patience in respect to persons and hupomone is endurance – putting up with things or circumstances.  That is the difference. Both are crucial to living God’s way but both describe different qualities. Let’s look at 2 Peter 3:9…The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.    here we find God’s mercy… in fact, everywhere we see this word used in Scripture, we find God’s mercy.
So… hupomone is inspired by hope. Makrothumia the fruit mentioned in Galatians is inspired by mercy.

The Greek word for mercy means compassion, active pity, with the sense of goodness in general, especially piety – Scripture uses this word to describe God. So… even though the first form of patience is good… wouldn’t you agree that having patience in circumstances is not nearly as important as having patience with people? And.. unfortunately, it is also harder.. therefore, we need the Holy Spirit to accomplish this kind of patience. No wonder it is listed as a fruit of the Spirit. We cannot practice this kind of patience apart from God.

What are some Biblical examples of God practicing patience toward people?  Could be a people group or a particular person..  ideas?

Let’s consider together.. the story of the flood.. What was going on in Genesis 6?
5 The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—        and yet.. He showed mercy toward Noah.. the word says Noah was a righteous man. How could this be amidst all the depravity around him? Noah’s life teaches us that there is no excuse for our unrighteous behavior.. just because everyone else is doing it.. that cannot be an excuse for our failure to do things right.
The interesting thing about this is God gave the people 120 years to repent.  The word says that Noah preached and lived out righteousness in an attempt to get people to repent as he built the ark.
So.. God is patient toward us  and we are saved because mercy prompted God’s patience. God’s patience means salvation.. to us and to everyone who every believes. 
2 peter 3:9  9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
And.. God calls us to be patient toward others through His empowerment. Ro 14:13
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
The opposite of patience toward others then would be ‘judgment’.   The Greek word in the above passage is defined as ‘to condemn, take vengeance on, it means to try someone as if they stand accused before you in a court of law..  so.. the word for patience here is the delaying of judgment.
We will get into more detail in a couple of weeks about judgment  - what it really is in detail and a list of reasons why we should not judge.
Let’s end our time talking more about the mercy needed to practice God’s kind of patience.
Col 3:12-13 says Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Patience is void of judgment and it is full of mercy and forgiveness. So.. to practice God’s kind of patience that comes from the Holy Spirit allows us to be people who forgive. We have discussed forgiveness many times in LifeCare. Do any of you remember what forgiveness is NOT?  What is it?

To wrap up – what do we see in our lives when we are bearing the fruit of patience?
-        Perseverance
-        Mercy
-        Non-judgmental
-        Forgiving
-        Self-restraint
-        Hope


1.    After hearing tonight’s lesson – do you consider yourself a patient person?  Do you find the first type easier than the second as discussed? Share a time you had to practice the first form.  Then.. the second.
2.    How do you see God’s patience being practiced toward you? – in the past or present
3.    As we consider the evidence of a life full of patience, what attributes do you need to ask God to help you with and why?