We Need God's Own Patience

by Wayne Barber

What a contrast it is when we compare living after the flesh-fulfilling it's desires, under the performance mentality of the law,  trying to do good in our own strength-and allowing Christ to live in and through us.

Our flesh can never satisfy us and only offers the counterfeits described in Galatians 5:19-21.

But oh, what is ours in Christ!  He is the Fountain out of which flows all that we are looking for! His Spirit lives in us to produce the characteristics of His life: "that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" (Phil. 3:10). The Greek word for "know" means to know experientially. By saying "yes" to Him we get to experience Him. We have seen in our study of Galatians 5:22,23 that in experiencing Him, we experience His love, His joy, His peace! Let's say that you are in the midst of a dilemma. You are forced to make a choice between obeying your flesh or obeying the Spirit. You choose to say "yes" to Christ. Immediately His love, joy, and peace flood your life. The circumstances haven't changed but you have changed in the midst of them. Paul laid the groundwork for understanding this in Galatians 5:20: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God ." When we are fulfilling the desires of the Spirit by saying "yes" to the Lord and His Word,  then there is a divine exchange. Christ now is living in and through us. He replaces us! We are experiencing Him. When He is living in us, His love is present-His love, not ours. Galatians 5:22 says that the fruit of His Spirit is love-His love. And when His love is present, His joy and His peace are present! No matter what our circumstances, we are experiencing Christ in our lives! Talk about miracles! The real miracle is to experience Christ as you bow before Him and His Word. Well, we have only eased into the list of characteristics of Christ's love. Next, when His love is present, His patience is also present: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience" (Gal. 5:22).The word for "patience" in the Greek is makrothuma. It is a relationship word. It comes from makro, "long," and thuma, which means "passionate suffering." The idea is "long, passionate caring for someone" who is nothing but an irritation. Now, remember, this is His patience. Let's think about that! It's one thing for you and me to consider this in light of those we have to put up with in our lives. But it's another to realize what God has had to deal with in us! We think we have it rough having to put up with people who are a constant irritation. But think of what God has put up with: "What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?" (Rom. 9:22). This is the "patience" of God. He is willing to demonstrate or prove His wrath, and to make His power known! But instead He chooses to endure with patience the rebelliousness of man! Imagine being God and having to put up with man, who chooses to do things his own way. It's important to understand the verb, "prepared for destruction." It is middle passive. If you look at a Greek parsing guide it will say "passive." But there is another word that would have been used if the passive was to be stressed. The vessel prepared himself by his own hardness of heart, therefore God finishes the process. The point is, God could have snapped His fingers and snuffed out rebellious mankind, but He exercises His patience! Paul in reprimanding the Jewish mindset of condemning Gentiles says to them in Romans 2:4: "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" God continually put up with Israel when they rebelled and rejected Him, and Paul reminds them of that. Paul speaks of the patience God showed toward him as the "chief of sinners" in 1 Timothy 1:15,16: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life." This is the same patience which God showed towards all of us. And He now lives in us to enable us to show it to others. Are you experiencing God in your daily walk? Is there anyone that you cannot endure any longer? Is there someone whom you cannot tolerate any more because of his or her attitude-especially toward God? If so, you are not experiencing the love of Christ in your heart. With Christ is His love, and with His love come His joy, His peace, and His patience.

Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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