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The Fruit of Patience!

Galatians 5:22-23: The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Remember that the New Testament was mainly written in Greek. We'll thus take a look at the Greek words as well as the Hebrew words for the applicable fruit of the week.

Greek Word: μακροθυμία (Transliterated: makrothymia)

Hebrew Word: ארך (Transliterated: arak)

The Greek word makrothymia (μακροθυμία) means longanimity, forbearance, fortitude, longsuffering, patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance, slow to avenge wrongs.

The Hebrew word arak (ארך) means bearing injuries or provocation for a long time; patient; not easily provoked; long patience of offense. Longsuffering, slow to anger; to bear; to suffer something unpleasant or painful; without increasing the suffering. To arrange; to put or lay in order; to prepare, order, ordain, handle or set in place.

The first time the word "arak" is used in the Bible was in Gen 6:15. When I first looked up the English version of the Scripture I thought I must have the Scripture wrong because it did not make sense to me. In this Scripture Abba gave the instructions to Noah on how the ark must be built. I thought maybe “ark” and “arak” got mixed up. But that was before I checked the full definition of “arak.” Remember the definition includes “to arrange / to lay in order.” Noah’s act of obedience was to lay things in order for the (long)suffering that was to come. And then it clicked / linked with makrothymia’s definition. Our fleshly understanding of the word “patience” makes us miss so much depth!

I think we can all easily agree that "patience" is not something we see much of in today's day and age. And part of the reason for that might be due to the pace we are living at. This fast paced life we have gotten accustomed to, being used to our want-it-now, instant gratification culture - definitely all plays a role in it. However, we need to constantly remind ourselves that we are in this world but not of it. Since we have the Holy Spirit within us, we already have everything we need inside us to be patient. Patience / longsuffering is part of His character and we need to follow His example.

Patient people are people who have the character to "put up with" / endure circumstances and people, even when they are severely tried and tested. Patient people display endurance, longsuffering and perseverance when faced with hardships. In 2 Pet 3:9 we read "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” This shows us, that cultivating patience is part of sharing the Gospel. In short we could say that patience is the restraint of anger. God doesn't get worked up and upset about everything we do. And therefore we should cultivate the fruit of Patience in our lives - so that we can get to the same point. Where we also don 't get upset about everything.

In Col 3:1-15 we read “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

In the same manner that we are forgiven by Yeshua. So should we forgive others. There is NOTHING that ANYONE can do that you cannot forgive. Ouch! It' s a tough pill to swallow hey?

Yeshua DIED on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. I'd say a life time's sins is bit more to forgive than something that someone once did to us. This does NOT mean that we have to keep people in our lives who have hurt us. Forgiveness does NOT mean that you become a door mat for others to trample on. It does however mean that we must forgive them and move on from the incident(s). (Yes, even when there are more than one incident.) The question isn't whether we feel that the person deserves our forgiveness. God has an expectation of us. He requires a certain standard from those who choose to follow Yeshua. The more we cultivate the fruit of Patience, the easier it becomes to forgive those who have hurt us. Not because we take them off the hook. God will still deal with them. But we take ourselves off the hook so that God can heal our hurt.

A patient person is slow to anger, as we wait on God to provide comfort and punish wrongdoing. Psalms 106:1 says “Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” God's not asking us to be thankful, He is telling us to be. Everything we have and every breath we take is because of Him! It doesn't mean that we have to be thankful for bad circumstances, but it means that we are thankful regardless of our circumstances! Many times in life we don't see the changes we'd like to see in our lives and sometimes it's a direct result of not appreciating what we already have. We are not thankful for what we currently have (which is a gift from God), yet we ask Him for more and expect Him to give it to us.

Being patient is a choice that only we can make. We have to purposefully make the choice to do it. It does not come naturally. I once heard someone comparing it to our clothing cupboards / a closet. We walk to our cupboard and purposefully put on our clothes. They don't just jump onto your body as you walk past your closet. The same thing applies to the fruit of Patience (and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit) - you have to make a deliberate choice to walk in it & to cultivate it. It will not happen on it's own.

1 Thess 5:14 says “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” In other words, we need to serve others for our patience to be cultivated. It's not a request from God saying "if you want to, it would be nice of you to..." No! It's an instruction / assignment - which we can either choose to obey or to ignore. As born-again believers, we cannot afford to be lazy physically nor spiritually. We have an obligation! People who are easily angered are not walking in the Fruit of the Spirit, but are walking in the fruits of the flesh. We need to be longsuffering with our children, our spouses, our friends, the stranger on the street. If we're not, we'll always find fault with everyone, including ourselves. But if we focus on cultivating patience we'll be able to eliminate numerous " glitches " we experience in our daily lives.

We need to deliberately choose to be more patient. Choose to not get angry so quickly. Choose to be more gracious. I don't know about you, but I can do with some changes in all of the above. In Ex 34 Moses asked to see God. And in verse 6 we read that God passed him by. God didn't reveal Himself in all His glory and power and majesty to Moses. Instead He revealed Himself to Moses as longsuffering. He revealed to Moses His character. And we need to intentionally practice growing into His Character!

The more we practice the fruit of patience, the more we will realise just how much we need Yeshua to stand in the gap for our shortcomings. “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom 2:4) It will bring us to a place of complete and continual surrender and repentance.

The counterfeit of patience is not impatience. But rather pride! When we focus on living our lives more "perfectly" - we can easily get to a point where we start pointing fingers. "Look at what she's doing. At least I don't do this & that!" Unintentionally, you're putting yourself on a pedestal. Without realising that your mouth is in fact probably worse than their actions. When we walk a different road as believers, we claim (we are suppose to) to know better. In other words, we need to act better as well! We can't run from the truth. We need to keep one another accountable on this journey, walking the narrow road. But we need to do it with patience and love. God has patience with you. Yet we are so quick to decide that others don't deserve our patience. Or only a limited amount of patience. Not sure about you but I've said "how much longer does that person really need to do this or that..." wayyyy to many times to recall. And in all of those moments my flesh won. My spirit lost the battle because I haven't cultivated enough patience to act differently. How others act has nothing to do with me. But how I react on their actions is entirely my responsibility.

We need to ask God to strip us of our pride. And it will hurt, that we can be sure of. But we need to humble ourselves before Him and allow Him to change us. We need to seek His face and ask Him each and every day to show us how WE can change. We need to be honest with ourselves. How do you think about life in general - we need to assess our thoughts. Are you always identifying and speaking about the negative things in life? Or are you able to focus on the blessings you get to experience even amidst the tough circumstances and challenges you have to face? God can turn ANYTHING around when we submit to Him. Do you believe that He can?

A thankful heart is the breeding ground for blessings. When we submit ourselves to God, He will open up doors for us that we didn't even know existed. He will give us outcome in situations we thought were doomed! God carries the power to punish us when we are in the wrong. But He has patience and mercy with us. He gives us another opportunity.

We are to follow His example. When people have wronged us, we have to have patience and mercy with them as well. God doesn't stay mad at us when we mess up. He gives us the opportunity to repent, clean up the mess and start walking in a different way. However, the choice is ours. We can either choose life or we can choose death. The choice is entirely up to us. We need to change our fruit so that we can change our lives and do more of what God expects from us. We cannot expect situations to change if we are not willing to change.

Back to the cupboard & clothing example we used earlier. We don 't walk around in the same clothes every single day. We put in some thought to take it off, put on other clothes, wash the dirty ones, etc. Each step of the process requires action and a choice from our side. If we start cultivating the fruit of Patience, we will get to a point where we will one day be able to look back and realise - I'm not how I was before. I don't act the way I did in the past. I don't get angry so easily anymore, etc. Because your nature & your characteristics have changed and grown more into the Image of God! Day-to-day we might not realise the change we are going through, but we have to make the choice to change and cultivate patience every single day. Remember that the fruit of your labour is not immediate! The more we cultivate the fruit of Patience, the less we will become frustrated, the less we will be critical - with others as well as ourselves.

In closing: long-suffering / patience is the ability to endure to the end with a good attitude. We are ALL a work in progress. There ' s always something we can work on. When someone does something that frustrates us - we need to remind ourselves that that person is also a work in progress, just like we are. Patience actually comes from a position of power. It's getting to a point where you realise that you might have the ability/opportunity to take revenge, cause trouble or react in a certain manner - but the fruit of Patience brings self-restraint and reconsideration (re-assessing our thoughts).

We should be patient with ourselves as well as with others. Having patience is a sign of hope... Hope for the possibility of breakthrough and deliverance. It's cultivating the ability/capacity to love someone who have wronged us and still want the best for them - regardless of what they have done to you. Take a moment to think about the immense patience God had with the people who lived in Noah's time. It took Noah 120 years to build the ark. God had patience for 120 years (plus many more before Noah started building the ark) with the people of the earth to turn back to Him and repent of their ways. He delayed His judgement as long as possible. In 2 Peter 3:20 we read "Bear in mind that our Lord’ s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him."

In the book of James we read how James urged the believers to be patient and not complain while we wait for Yeshua's return. As believers in Chirst, we cannot afford to become agitated, discouraged and desire to take revenge on those who have hurt/wronged us. In John 14:27 we read "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." God doesn 't want us to live agitated, but in peace. He wants to free us from discouragement and replace it with hope and praise (Ps 42:5). We should not take revenge, as we are called to love one another. Loving others leaves no room for revenge.

God IS patient, and if we allow Him, His Spirit will produce the fruit of Patience within us. When we cultivate patience, we welcome God into our lives and our hearts so that He can work in our hearts, heal the hurt and bring restoration. We need to surrender our ideas and our thoughts and realise that His ways truly are best! When we abide in Him and His principles, we will receive blessing!

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." ~ Ephesians 4:2 ~
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