Fresh Fruit

Part 4: Patience

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Patience is a challenge for us because of the world we live in today. Our society is based on speed. We want it all, and we want it now! Yet, God has a bigger plan for our lives, and His best requires patience. Patience is trusting in God’s timing and not our own. Patience is seeing the bigger picture of God’s holy work in our lives and in the world. God’s desire for us, as followers of Christ Jesus, is to be conformed to the image of His Son – and this takes time. May we demonstrate fresh fruit in our lives as we respond to those closest to us as well as to the world. May we live with our eyes fixed on Jesus and with patience in our hearts knowing that God has a good and perfect plan for us.

A World of Hurry

We live in a world of hurry. Can you think of anything that hasn’t gotten faster in the last ten years? For the vast majority of human history, instant messaging was impossible for even the wealthiest kings. But today, it’s in the pocket of almost every American and countless around the world. How about shopping? If you want it, Amazon has it, and you can get it tomorrow. For some products, you can get two-hour delivery! Do you miss someone far away? If it’s within your means, just hop on a plane and cover thousands of miles in a few hours. 

And yet, are our relationships any better than the relationships our ancestors had? Are we any more satisfied with what we have (and don’t have) than the people before us? Probably not. In fact, the case could be made that all these modern luxuries have made us even more anxious, isolated, and unsatisfied. 

It’s even in our language: time is money, we say. No wonder we struggle with patience. We want everything, and we want it now! That’s something that everyone in this fallen world has to struggle with at least a little bit, but our particular culture makes us especially susceptible to this impatient pattern of thinking. In America, we are among the world’s wealthiest people, living some of the fastest lives, and indulging the most lavishly in consumerism.

Did you know that in Africa, many cultures have a totally different concept of time than we do? To crystallize it simply, they measure their time by relationships; it’s a communal measurement, not a mathematical one. This isn’t to say that our culture’s way of experiencing time is better or worse than theirs — it’s just a reminder that even some of the fundamental ways of our life can be changed. 

Just because the hurry is normal doesn’t make it good. We can examine our lives and remove what the world around us says cannot be removed. With the Holy Spirit, we have hope for change right where we are. We are in the world, but not of it. We don’t have to conform to the ways of the world around us. The Spirit will bring us patience.

Do You Have Patience?

Impatience is the discomfort of wanting something now that is not yet here. It’s wishing for what I want to happen in my timing. At its core, it’s all about me. That’s the consequence of our sin nature — the focus on and preference of ourselves over God and others. 

Sometimes we’re impatient for things we’ve prayed about. We’re impatient for things that aren’t selfish: we want our friends and family to embrace Jesus, or we want to see healing in someone’s life. It’s not wrong to long for these things! The trouble comes when we forget that God is in control over all these circumstances, or when we insist on our own timeline above God’s. 

Sometimes God says “yes”, and other times he says “no.” But sometimes, he says, “wait.” I hear you, I have not forgotten you, and I will never forsake you. But I have something better for you, which you can’t yet see. If you remember God’s promises, you can wait for His timing knowing that He will be faithful. Time isn’t a problem for Him: He made it, He exists outside of it, He controls it, and He sustains its passing. 

That’s patience: a calm endurance based on the certain knowledge that God is in control. Patience means waiting for God’s best. Patience is an active waiting, not a passive one; it’s diligently working with what you have and preparing for the future, whatever it may hold. 

God was Patient First

We should show others patience because God showed a much bigger patience first. Are you familiar with the definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13? It begins in verse 4 with love is patient, love is kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. The very first word for this Biblical definition of love is patience! 

And Jesus is the clearest picture of that love we have. His death on the cross was the ultimate display of patience. His death was physically grueling and slow, and all the while He was mocked by the very people He was dying for. And yet He was not enraged, much less bitter, and He did not call the angels to take Him off the cross. He did this in love, so that we could spend eternity with Him in heaven.

God’s people have failed to live up to His standards time and time again, and in our own lives, we’ve all fallen into sin repeatedly. And yet, He offers forgiveness. He never cuts us off, and He never calls us too far gone. 

We all await the day Jesus will come and restore our world, putting an end to all its evil. It often seems to us that this time cannot come soon enough. What’s God waiting for? Well, as 2 Peter 3:9 reads: the Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Thank you, Lord, for your timing and your patience for our repentance. Eternity is coming quickly, and we still have work to do to spread the Gospel.


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The One // Part One: Dating and Marriage in Today's World // Jeff Simmons

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