In this age and time, a universal culture of instant gratification exists which seemingly yields not at all to the very concept of patience. Not only do people flit from here to there seeking the next “thing” to satisfy their narcissistic pursuits of self-indulgence, but the momentary pleasure they achieve in these pursuits is so short term they impatiently enjoy the achievement, never satisfied, never satiated, never at peace. My belief is that nothing in scripture is by accident, or haphazardly written. So when I look at the list Paul gave the church in Galatia regarding what it means to be a true Christ-follower, and having the Holy Spirit living in us, producing in us the “fruit” of our faith in Christ… well, I contend there is order to what is written. He wrote:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
People today, yes-even Christ-followers today, struggle with the idea of patience because somewhere along their walk of faith, one or all three of the initial items Paul talks about is off track. It is truly difficult to be patient about anything in life, if there is no peace in your walk of faith with Christ. If you are not at peace – with yourself, others around you, your spouse, your family, your co-workers, then something about joy is off track. And if your joy is nowhere to be found, then something about your love is out of focus. Do you follow what I’m saying here?
Now, here’s the thing.
I believe each of these 9 attributes are “supposed” to be found in every true Christ-follower, every day, all the time… but how many people do you know who really look like the image here, in real time, in real life? I can’t look in the mirror on any given day without realizing something about one of these attributes is either missing, or dormant in my daily routines. When I realize this, I have to ask the question, “how did I get here?”
Now this is really simple. If I’m right, and these attributes are linear, while I may think I have great self-control, if I don’t have patience, how could I be in control of my emotions, or actions? That seems disingenuous to me. At the least it is hypocritical, but worse, it opens the door for Satan to defeat me spiritually, by causing me to believe I’m more in tune with Christ than I really am.
If in fact these attributes are linear, all predicated on the attribute that comes before, then all these attributes stem from the original… love. I will never know all of what God wants me to know; nor will I experience all that God has planned for me… until I yield fully to the love of God, by surrendering my heart fully to Jesus. In that moment, I experience His love as He intends it. Which opens the floodgates of joy into my life. Yielding to the Spirit in joy, opens the path to peace. And the progression continues until I am completely yielded to the Holy Spirit’s direction for my life, and find in the end… self-control, by the Spirit’s power.
No patience today? Go back … turn back to Christ in faith and ask the Spirit to reveal which part of these attributes is off track in your life. And for goodness sake, be open to what the Spirit wants to do in you… and be patient while the Spirit answers your prayer… well, at least try to be…