“Fruit of the Spirit” – By Vanessa K. Stern
Have you wondered why God put patience and longsuffering in the fruits of the Spirit, instead of just choosing one? Some versions only mention one, but he includes self-control along with longsuffering/patience so it’s obvious he’s that serious about NOT rushing, not abusing our gifts, our power, our bodies and people.
How often do we, as believers, move on something too quickly because “it’s a good opportunity”, or fear of losing thus and thus, or we’ve operated impatiently and have not withheld our power? Or we made hasty decisions that dragged our families through messes that lasted years?
In Galatians 5: 22-26 Amplified version, Paul clearly defines the Fruit of the Spirit:
“But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, patience [n[inner] peace to the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness (meekness, power under control), self-control (self-restraint). Against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the [l]sinful nature together with its passions and appetites.”
I don’t believe a person gains perfect patience once they become a Christ-follower; however, they’ve gained access to the power than transforms the sinful nature. The results of his presence living in us, is a daily submission to his will, not our own.
God could’ve chosen patience, but instead he added the ability to endure suffering because he knew the world was broken. God could’ve chosen self-control, the ability to restrain one’s self in any given moment, aka school drop off zone, traffic jams or Starbucks drive-thru. But he knows the power of will and ego and selfish ambition. He’s given us passions and desires to be used accordingly, not to gain fame, but to be faithful in his Kingdom.
Lucifer being an incredible example of the lack thereof; his decision was rooted in pride, patience and pride cannot operate in tandem. Self-restraint is rooted in discipline and trust. Christ had all the power to call down angels, destroy the enemy in the desert, and to demand followers to bow at his knee, but instead he operated in such a way that people felt safe and secure around him. His ability to operate such power under control through grace, threatened the religious leaders. They did not understand the dichotomy.
NOTHING SUBSTANTIAL IS BUILT OVER NIGHT
Patience is important to God because nothing substantial has ever been built over night. Babies take 10 months in the womb, Jesus’ ministry awakened at age 30, there are 4 seasons in a year, and there is a cycle to life that requires the emotional intelligence and wherewithal to prevail through not so perfect circumstances. Watch celebrities who rise quickly, watch lottery winners who become millionaires overnight, there is something to be said about God wanting to build a strong foundation in someone’s life before giving them more responsibility. And unfortunately as it may seem in the moment, God allows events in our lives to break us, rebuild us, strengthen us, making us more like him.
THE POWER OF RESTRAINT
Paul found it to be a gift to not only know the power of Christ’s resurrection but to participate in his sufferings too, so he could be resurrected to be more like him. A child without restraint or discipline or given whatever he so desires, is not a child loved well.
God is a good father. And though we may not understand the path by which he takes us down, his will is good, perfecting our will, molding our image into Christ-centeredness, so that we can run this race with endurance, hope and integrity.
If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit]. 26 We must not become conceited, challenging or provoking one another, envying one another.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for not leaving us alone, but giving us a Comforter and a Teacher, especially during times of distress and suffering. Allow your Holy Spirit to mold me into a clearer image of your Son. If I lack patience, be my patience. If I lack self-control, help me restrain myself. Give me the grace to rest in your timing when I want to rush into so-called opportunities. Grant me the grace to submit to your spirit every day. In Jesus Name, Amen.
FOR FURTHER STUDY:
Philippians 3, Galatians 5, Romans 5