“The Fruit of the Spirit is . . .

Patience” (Galatians 5:22)

I. Introduction. A. Orientation. 1. We’ve been considering some of the more important spiritual virtues that will make us more useful to the Lord. a. Not everyone is as useful as they have the potential to be in this world. b. In the same way, we are not as useful as we could be in God’s kingdom. c. There are certain virtues we need to put on and develop. d. That has been the purpose of this study. 2. Consider last week’s topic: zeal. a. Zeal is holy heat, the fruit of love, something that activates all the affections. The opposite of zeal is indifference. b. Which will make us more useful? Zeal or indifference? Zeal, obviously. c. If we want to be more useful to the Lord, we need to grow in these virtues. B. Preview. 1. Tonight, let’s consider one more virtue that will make us more useful to the Lord: patience. a. Patience is something the Lord obviously commends to us. “As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful” (James 5:10-11). b. Certainly, He commands it, “Be patient with everyone” (1 Thes. 5:14). c. Patience is also a fruit of the Spirit, as our text reminds us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience” (Gal. 5:22). d. And it is the fruit of love, “Love is patient” (1 Cor. 13:4). e. For all these reasons, growing in patience will help us become more useful. 2. Let’s look at four things: a. First, what it means to be patient – and what it doesn’t. b. Second, two reasons we need patience. c. Third, several considerations that will help us be patient. c. Fourth, how we can strengthen our patience. II. Sermon. A. What does it mean to be patient and what doesn’t it mean? 1. It means to be willing to wait on the Lord. a. When we seek the Lord for something, but don’t receive it right away, it means to wait until He gives it, without complaint. “I wait for the Lord, my soul does

2 wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning” (Ps. 130:5-6). (i) It’s a willingness to believe that God will bring His mercy at the right time. (ii) It may not be when we want it, but it will be when God knows it to be best. b. It means waiting on the Lord, even when waiting is difficult. (i) Because we must endure difficulty at the hands of others. (ii) Even because we must endure difficulty from the hand of God (Micah 7:9). 2. To better understand what it is, let’s consider what it isn’t. a. Patience is not apathy – becoming insensitive to what God brings. We are not to be sensitive to His work. b. Patience is not bearing something because there’s nothing else we can do: Erasmus said that bearing something because we can’t do otherwise is necessity rather than patience. c. Patience is submitting to God’s will humbly and cheerfully – knowing that what God does is not only good, but best for us, as Jesus understood when He prayed in the Garden, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done” (Matt. 26:42). d. Patience is free from certain sinful elements: (i) From anxiety: when we are worried and fearful, it makes it impossible cheerfully to submit to God’s will. (ii) From discontent: when we are angry at our situation, rather than content, it makes submission more difficult. (iii) From defection: turning away from the Lord because we don’t like His plan is the opposite of submission. (iv) From self-justification: when we blame God for our troubles, this is the opposite of humility. e. We must learn to be patient if we are to be useful to the Lord: “The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit” (Ecc. 7:8). f. Though we won’t need patience in heaven, when all our difficulties will become pure joy, we need it now because our world is full of difficulty. B. Second, we need patience for two reasons: 1. When God takes away our comforts. 2. When He inflicts us with trouble. 1. There will be times when the Lord will take things away from us that will be difficult to bear. a. This would, of course, apply to any blessing the Lord gives us. b. If He takes it away, we must learn to bear with it patiently. 2. The greatest loss anyone can endure is that of a friend or loved one. a. Nothing could be more painful than this. b. Yet, it’s something we will all have to endure someday – many of us already have – unless the Lord takes us out of the world first.

3 c. Let’s consider for a moment, how it’s possible to endure even this with patience. One or more of these will apply, according to our particular situation. (i) First, the Lord never takes something away without giving us something better. (a) When He took Job’s possessions and family, what He gave him in return made his latter years more blessed than the first (Job 42:12). (b) When Jesus left His disciples and ascended into heaven, He sent His Holy Spirit, which was to their advantage (John 16:7). (c) Maybe the Lord will take something precious from us, but He will give us something more precious in return. (ii) Second, if the one He takes from us is a believer, they’re in a far better situation than they’ve ever been before. (a) To depart and be with Christ is very much better. (b) Those in heaven are far happier than we are. (c) Why should we be grieved when they are happier? (iii) Third, though we lose a close friend or a family member, or everyone close to us, we have a friend we can’t lose: (a) We have a heavenly Father who loves us and will care for us. (b) We have a Lord who died for us and prays for us. (c) We have the Comforter in our hearts. (d) We will eventually lose all our friends while we’re on earth; but there is one friend we will never lose: God. David wrote, “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me up” (Psalm 27:10). (iv) Fourth, sometimes God removes a friend or loved one because we love them too much. (a) If we love someone or something more than God, the Lord may very well take that one away – not necessarily through death – so that our love might flow in the right direction – towards Him again. (b) Watson writes, “A gracious woman had been deprived, first of her children, then of her husband. She said, "Lord, you intend to have all my love." God does not like to have any creature set upon the throne of our affections; he will take away that comfort, and then he shall lie nearest our heart.” (v) Fifth, any friend we lose here in Christ, we haven’t really lost. (a) Remember, they’re alive and well, if they are Christ’s, in a much happier place than here. (b) And when we finally leave this world, we will see them again and will love and be loved by them much more than we ever did here. (vi) Sixth, we need to remember that we don’t deserve any blessing, especially that of relatives and friends.

4 (a) If the Lord does take someone close to us, we need to remember that we didn’t deserve to have them in the first place. (b) We deserve hell. So how can we complain if He takes anything away? (c) Especially when He has promised to give us heaven. (vii) Seventh, becoming discontent or impatient won’t change anything. So why should we bother to become so? (viii) Eighth, we need to remember the example of the saints. (a) When the Lord took Job’s children, he not only didn’t complain, he blessed the Lord, “He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord’” (Job. 1:21). (b) When Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son, the son he had waited so many years to obtain, he didn’t murmur or rebel against God, but simply prepared to offer him (Gen. 22:2). (c) We should remember these things when the Lord takes any comfort from us, especially those we love the most. 3. Second, we must also be patient when the Lord allows us to go through difficult times. a. Paul tells us we should be patient in tribulation, “Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer” (Rom. 12:12). b. The Lord does sometimes afflict His people. David writes, “O Lord, rebuke me not in Your wrath, and chasten me not in Your burning anger. For Your arrows have sunk deep into me, and Your hand has pressed down on me. There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin” (Ps. 38:1-3). c. Sometimes He afflicts us in many ways at the same time, “For He bruises me with a tempest and multiplies my wounds without cause. He will not allow me to get my breath, but saturates me with bitterness” (Job 9:17-18). d. Sometimes He has us go through long times of affliction, “We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, nor is there any among us who knows how long. How long, O God, will the adversary revile, and the enemy spurn Your name forever?” (Ps. 74:9-10). e. During times like these, we need to be careful to maintain a straight course, and not become impatient. C. Third, here are several considerations that will help us be patient. 1. First, the Lord always brings difficulties for our good, “For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness” (Heb. 12:10). a. He uses difficulties to sober us up and teach us (Job 36:8-10). b. Sometimes He uses them to prepare us to receive His grace: Beza said that God laid the foundation of his conversion when he was terribly sick in Paris. c. He uses them to strengthen our grace: when we go through difficult times, it causes us to seek the Lord more and so receive more grace.

5 d. He also uses them to make us long more for heaven: if everything were always wonderful and perfect here, we’d never want to leave. Trials make us want more to be with the Lord in the perfection above. 2. Let’s not forget that the Lord always mixes His mercy with affliction. He never gives us more than we can bear and we can always find the evidences of His grace to see us through. 3. The more we are able to bear these afflictions patiently, the more the Lord shows us that we are His. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit – the more we see that fruit, the more it convinces us that we are His children. 4. We need to remember we are servants, not masters. As the servants of God, we don’t tell our Lord when to do something, but wait for His time. 5. This is the way the Lord has made this world. We must wait for everything. a. It takes time to accumulate wealth. b. It takes time to build a family. c. When we plant seeds or trees, we need to wait for them to grow. d. If we’re to become educated, it takes time. e. In our society of instant gratification, we may not like it, but this is the way it is. f. Why shouldn’t we also need to wait for the Lord? 6. The Lord waited patiently for us – for our repentance, for us to mature and bear fruit – why should we get upset or impatient with Him if He doesn’t answer us right away? 7. Let’s also not forget the end of patience: it ends with endless glory: a. Paul writes, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:1718; cf. Acts 14:22). b. Knowing this is the case makes it easier to go through it. D. Finally, how can we strengthen our patience? 1. We need more faith. a. All impatience grows out of unbelief. It’s because we really don’t believe all that the Lord has shown us in His Word. b. The more we believe that God will work these things together for good, the more we’ll be able to be patient. 2. To gain more faith, we need to pray and ask the Lord for His Spirit. a. Both faith and patience are His fruits. The more we have of the Spirit, the more patience we will have. b. And so go to the Lord often in prayer, and use all the means the Lord has supplied, and by His grace you will grow in patience. Amen. http://www.graceopcmodesto.org

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