Fruit Picking: Fighting for Patience
This week, if you’ve lost your temper, complained about the weather or traffic, or found yourself grumbling about someone else, then the chances are you need to fight for the fruit of patience. Actually, we are all in this fight because my guess is that we’ve all fallen short here…in the past few hours!
When I used to play soccer for a living, my usual route to work took me through the center of London city. As you can imagine, traffic would often snarl up and come to a halt. I would be fined if I was late for work, and so one time because of the combination of bad drivers and bad traffic I took off down the sides streets to try and find a quicker way rather than sitting in the slow crawl. I was growing increasingly impatient as I couldn’t find a way through. Eventually I quickly and thoughtlessly turned the wrong way down a one-way street. I was brought to my senses as a saw a car coming towards me and the police waving me over to the roadside. My impatience literally didn’t get me anywhere, except a hefty traffic fine… and a fine for being late to practice!
What tends to make us impatient is when we don’t get things our way in our time. Circumstances and people seem to conspire against us. We feel as if we deserve better. We feel sorry for ourselves . Then we either give up or direct anger at the person or circumstance that is hindering our progress. Or perhaps we think too highly of our own wisdom and rush into presumptuous words or actions to solve the problem.
However, impatient people are ultimately angry with God. So impatience is fundamentally a form of pride and unbelief. It comes from a posture of entitlement and a lack of faith in and gratitude for all we have received in the gospel of Christ and all God’s promises therein.
God fueled, faith funneled patience
So where do we get the ability to fight for patience? Paul tells us, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.” (Col. 1:11).
He wants the Colossians to have power for patience in the face of difficulties. The power comes from God – “his glorious might” - but it comes through faith.
John Piper comments on this text: “Patience is indeed a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22), but the Holy Spirit empowers (with all his fruit) through “hearing with faith” (Gal. 3:5). Therefore, Paul is praying that God would connect us with the “glorious might” that empowers patience. And that connection is faith.”
We could say: God is the fuel. Faith is the funnel to receive the fuel.
The psalmist puts it another way, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope” (Ps. 130:5). Waiting for the Lord means trusting him, which also means believing his promises - ‘in his word I hope.”
So how do you fight for patience? By trusting God according to his Word: all that he is for you, all that he’s done for you and all that he will do for you. Then you will have a disposition to humbly submit to his providences, and a readiness to go at God’s pace through each day. Wouldn’t it be a great thing if we measured the success of this next week not by how smoothly it went but by how patient we grew!