Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Spiritual Fruit We're Scared to Grow

By Rebekah Montgomery

But the fruit of the Spirit is … patience … (Galatians 5:22)

The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap
eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper
time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6: 8b, 9)

Patience: 1. enduring pain, trouble, etc., without complaining. 2.
calmly tolerating delay, confusion, etc. 3. diligent; persevering

—Webster's New World Dictionary

Patience, which is a virtue, should not be confused with apathy, which
is a vice.

One winter, to scratch my gardening itch, I bought peat pots and
started plants in the house. In the discount basket at the hardware
store I found seed packets proclaiming, "Hardy perennials seeds —
anybody can grow them!" so and thought, "I guess I'm 'anybody:' these
should grow." I put them to bed in the little peat cups where they
sprouted beautifully. Despite my tending, they remained
unpromising-looking. When I planted them in the garden, they promptly
disappeared and remained incommunicado for the rest of the summer.

By the next spring, I decided the poor things had expired, so I
planted annuals on top of them. However, I discovered my perennials
were not dead at all — only on an extended vacation. Everything came
up all at once in a mad confusion.

I should have been more patient.

How many times I have planted eternal seeds in some area of my life,
waited and waited and waited, finally gave up on God, took matters
into my own hands, and made a big mess — when I should have been
patient a little longer.

How many times I have prayed and prayed for someone or about a certain
situation, then decided to do things my own way instead of waiting on
God to show me what to do?

There are times to step forward in faith at the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Then there are times when the Holy Spirit says, "Wait. Be patient. At
the right moment, I'll show you the next step. I'm doing something
that takes time."

To better understand the sweet fruit of patience, here are small
slices of definition that help explain God's variety of patience.

"Patience," hupomone or makrothumia, which is often translated as
patience in the New Testament, implies suffering, enduring, or waiting
by a determination of the will and not simply because of necessity. We
are told to develop this essential Christian virtue.

To "wait patiently" for God is to uncomplainingly endure the various
sufferings, wrongs, and evils with which we meet, to bear with
strength, dignity, and faith the injustices that we cannot remedy and
the provocations we cannot remove.

"But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good
heart, who hear the Word, retain it, and by persevering (hupomone)
produce a good crop." (Words of Jesus: Luke 8:15)

Here, patience or persevering carries with it ideas of productive
endurance and gutsyness when others might be tempted to despair
because the patience will produce something wonderful and important.

Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,
temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle (hupomeno) … (1
Timothy 3:2,3)

"Gentle" describes an important attribute of the patient person. In
our typical usage, this connotation of patience is often overlooked.

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering
produces perseverance (makrothumia); perseverance, character; and
character, hope. (Romans 5:3, 4-NIV)

The concept of patience or perseverance describes a process that does
us more good than the troubles or pain can harm us. It is the picture
of steel being tempered by fire, or raw silver being purified to

I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. (Psalm 40:1)

As the translation of qawah, or "to wait," or "to expect, " this word
is used frequently in the Old Testament and typically expresses the
type of patient, trusting faith in God.

Like moss covers scorched earth after a forest fire, patience is a
harbinger of greening growth after one of life's devastating
calamities. The thought of learning patience should not make us fear,
but give us hope that via the life-giving Spirit, the pain we
experience will produce in us this rare and nourishing fruit that
reclaims the minutes, hours, days, and years stricken by Satan's

Patience is the sentinel of faith, the guardian of peace, the
protector of love, and the drillmaster of humility

Patience governs the flesh, commands the spirit, overrules the temper,
guards anger, and subdues pride.

Patience bridles the tongue, harnesses energy, tramples temptations,
endures persecutions, and gives victory in martyrdom.

Patience sounds the tone of unity in the church and harmony in
families and communities.

Patience softens the edges of poverty and diminishes the illusionary
shine of wealth.

Patience forces us to our knees in prosperity, elevates us in
adversity, and is cushions the blows of reproach. It teaches us to
forgive our enemies and to be the first to seek forgiveness of those
whom we have injured.

Patience makes us more like Christ.

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