Well, greetings once again friends. This is Episode 38 of the podcast. The focus of this month’s episode is the spiritual fruit of “Patience.”
May God bless you as we take a look into this important character quality. I pray that you may enjoy the “patience of the saints” in your life today!
There’s a good chance you probably have heard the somewhat comical prayer, “Lord, give me patience—and I need it right now!”
I think that resonates with most of us from time to time!
Several months ago I had a conversation with an acquaintance who expressed some quite irritated impatience about a current situation.
This individual knew the Bible well and was a long-time professed Christian.
At what seemed to be an appropriate time I asked, “What is the fourth fruit of the Spirit?”
Without hesitation he began reciting the list from Galatians 5:22-23, “Love, joy, peace, patience . . . .”
His voice trailed off, and without ever finishing the list he blurted, “But, I don’t want to be patient!”
I’m sure we can all identify with my friend! There are times we simply want to express our frustration about some issue and just get on with the program! So today, before I share some thoughts specifically about patience, I’d like to reflect back on the “why” of these spiritual gifts from God. Why do we need them, and what purpose do they fill in our walk with God?
In my personal spiritual journey the last few years I have sensed a constant deepening heart-wonder amazement at God’s profound grace “that saved a wretch like me.”
Not long back, I was struck by an expression used by the Apostle Paul in one of his early letters found in the New Testament. That’s why I chose to schedule the first nine months in this year’s podcast/blog for digging a little deeper into each of the fruits.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.Galatians 5:22-23
In truth, I have preached on this text dozens of times. I have written about it and quoted it more times than I can remember. I have taught lessons from it in Bible studies and SS classes.
But, then–somehow–this awareness dawned on my understanding:
That is to say, the gift of these fruits is not just to make us better people and get us ready for heaven! The gift is not just about the transformation of our character.
Instead, the fruits are to equip us for truthful, faithful witness about God’s love and grace, enabling us to be loving and gracious as we discourse with others.
“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen.”Isaiah 43:10
To be a “witness” is to be an ambassador for God’s eternal kingdom of love and grace. Our every word and action, our every relationship and communication represents what the Kingdom of God is all about!
Do our daily lives reveal the truth about the God we serve? Definitely a thought worth some serious contemplation!
So now, with that in mind, let’s get back to some thoughts specifically about patience. There are many texts in the New Testament where “patience” is found—actually 34 times! This was a core teaching of Jesus himself, as well as the other NT writers.
The very last occurrence is Revelation 14:12, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”
This text is particularly important to us in our time, because it applies directly to every believer’s spiritual journey. None of us knows what tomorrow may bring, so it is TODAY when we need this essential gift of the Holy Spirit to live “self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12 NIV).
Revelation 14:12 is the summary of all three angel’s messages in this passage, verses 6-12. These messages are given for the people living in the end times just before the literal Second Coming of Christ. Verse 12 links directly to Jesus’ strongest end-time prophecy in Matthew 24, where He promised, “The one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13).
The words translated in Revelation as “patience,” and as “endures” in Matthew, both stem from a single root word in the Greek New Testament: hupomeno. The original base meaning of hupomeno is “to carry on courageously” (my paraphrase), or “to persevere.” A more colloquial expression might be to “Keep on keeping on!”
In Matthew 24, verse 13 is sandwiched between two other very significant verses:
“Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”Matthew 24:12-14
These verses bear a powerful message of hope and promise for believers living in the end-times, and reveal an even deeper meaning for the third angel’s words in Revelation.
Let’s unpack this passage in Matthew 24.
Love is the abiding theme.
In verse 12, Jesus says “the love of many will grow cold.” Agápe love is unconditional, unending, godly love. It is a “fruit” of the Holy Spirit’s presence in a person’s life, as listed in Galatians 5:22. Some who have enjoyed the Spirit’s love previously have lost the flame of faith.
Lawlessness creates increasing chaos.
“Lawlessness” is translated in other places as “iniquity,” or “sinfulness.” The context of this entire chapter prophesies increasing chaos in nature, human suffering, rampant unrest, and fear.
A message for all the world.
Immediately following His statement about enduring to the end, Jesus adds this prophetic conclusion: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14).
Patient, enduring love defines the “saints” of God.
The “gospel” Jesus speaks of in verse 14 is the incredible “good news” in verse 13 that the person who “keeps on keeping on” living God’s love will be—in fact—the person who is saved in the end!
Any individual who is thus filled with God’s agápe love, and keeps on living that love even in times of total conflict and chaos, will truly be identified as one of His end-time “saints.” They know the joy of God’s salvation. They will live out the “everlasting gospel” forever in the Earth Made New.
There is no better counsel for us than the writer of Hebrews shares in chapter 12, verse 1:
“Let us run with perseverance (“patience”) the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”Hebrews 12:1 NIV
Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.
I hope you can join me for next month’s episode. I’ll be sharing some thoughts on the spiritual gift of “Kindness.” Watch for it on May 30!
Mark your calendar! Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you!
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