When the Apostle Paul listed the "fruit of the spirit" in the 5th chapter of Galatians, he placed it right after a nasty list, recounting 15 "deeds of the flesh." This fruit list was positioned as a remedy for any Christian who might struggle with any of those earthly issues. In Part I and II of this series, we examined the depths of sin in that “earthly deeds” list. In Part III we opened up the remedy of the fruit of the spirit and began with love, joy and peace. While these three things seem basic to any Christian, they have deep roots in the teaching and example of Jesus himself. As we continue with Part IV of our series, we address the next three fruits on the list: patience, kindness and goodness. Don’t let the simplicity of these things fool you, as they each have the ability to profoundly change your life!
There's patience and then there's PATIENCE!
When we think of patience, we typically think of someone who is willing to wait, as in, “The lines were long, but we waited patiently for our turn.” In the New Testament, the primary words for "patience" add important details to the idea of simply waiting. They describe patience as having fortitude and perseverance. Now, here’s the surprising thing. The patience listed as the fourth fruit of the spirit is an entirely different word! Its meaning focuses on being willing to be restrained and appropriate. So, why is this kind of patience described as the fruitage of God’s spirit and not the other?
Perhaps it is because this kind of patience is not only more difficult to develop but is also more difficult to realize its need. I can readily recognize the need to bear up under the weight of trial. However, I am much more likely to miss my need for godly restraint because I feel like my human restraint is good enough. I need God’s spirit to help me see such a need.
One important thing to remember is that this fruit, this depth of character that we are developing is of God. It is NOT the fruit of any individual Christian, it is the result, of God’s spirit dwelling within individual Christians. Each of these fruits come from God as they reflect His character, wisdom and strength. Letting this thought sink in changes everything. The God of all creation gives us His spirit so we can have His own power and influence guide our lives and change our characters!
Check out our November 28, 2022 podcast, “Do I Walk in the Spirit or the Lusts of My Human Nature? (Part IV)” for more. We closely examine this restraining brand of patience. Then we investigate what kindness and goodness really mean. As you might guess, their meanings are far more profound than what plainly meets the eye. There are nine fruits of the spirit, and this episode captures the middle three. Join us and watch how God arranges for the depth of His character to unfold in us!