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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Jesus

Galatians 5.22-24  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  56:34
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 Gal 5.22-24 Patience Take your Bible and make your way to Heb 10.12, 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, 13 waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. While Jesus’ forgiveness is amazing, doesn’t this seem to be about the greatest waste of time we ever heard of! Correct? How long has it been since Jesus offered “one sacrifice for sins for all time”? If chronology is correct, Jesus died Apr 3, 33 A.D. This year is 2017! So, Jesus has been waiting for 1,984 years?!? We have difficulty with a RED traffic light! Have you noticed what I call the “oochers”? The “creepers”? They stop, then they creep forward a tiny amount, then another tiny amount! WHAT? The light’s still RED and there are often cars ahead! But — sit there and WAIT, you’ve got to be joking! — — Or, maybe the joke is on us and Jesus knows something about life we don’t? Something about, well — take that Bible and turn to Gal 5.22, and look with me at what the Holy Spirit nurtures and bears in our lives! We’re peaking into this Garden, using Paul’s image of “Fruit,” and it’s filled with a New Kind of Life, a life we’ve been set free from sin to live! The Fruit of the Spirit is —PATIENCE! So, we’ve finally hit one of those words we’ve all been dreading! Let’s explore PATIENCE, maybe from some angles we haven’t considered. Why is God so patient? Because it’s his nature! So, what does that tell us? He’s patient because he sees a greater good, a greater potential, a greater portion, a greater glory than the situation, or the life, or the circumstances confronting convey, even sin! Praise God for his patience. Listen to Rom 9.22-24, 22 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? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. Praise God for his patience. So, back to Gal 5.22, let’s consider this aspect of love in our lives called PATIENCE! Older translations of Scripture used the phrase “long-suffering” to explain this word. This is an excellent rendering of what the Spirit seeks to produce. We speak of people having a “short temper” but we have no English corollary for the opposite. A good word would be “long tempter” for such is very close to the meaning of this word the apostle Paul uses. Our English word, patient, particularly used around hospitals, often speaks of someone who suffers and is under medical care. It’s my understanding this concept developed in the Middle Ages when anyone suffering and under care was long-suffering, as a “patient.” 1 Here we are gaining in our understanding of this fruit of the Spirit. Anyone “being patient” and “being a patient” have a common characteristic, both are someone who has come to terms with yielding control to another in the place they find themselves. They are allowing someone to “act upon” them, under the care of another, for a goal beyond the moment! Instead of being the “actor,” they have come to grips with being “acted upon.” Our Greek term — μακροθυμία — Compound term: one part meaning “long,” the other the place of temper, passion, anger. It’s a character trait of remaining tranquil while awaiting an outcome, even while things are pressing on us and bearing on us! Patience! How does patience relate to love? When we are “long-angered,” and that’s not angered for a long time, although many possess that trait, it’s recognizing we’ve yielded control to another, we’re acted upon, in a sense “choosing for the highest good of another,” we are allowing another to act — looking beyond the moment, the frustration, the hurt, even the sin! Patience! Patience has its root, like all the fruit of the Spirit, in the character of God. Our First Testament speaks often of God being “slow to anger” as he loves. Listen to one truth among many, The great encounter when the Lord opened to Moses his nature, Ex 34.6. 6 Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in { Loyal-Love } lovingkindness and truth; The Scripture does not portray our Lord as having a “hair-trigger”! He often takes a path which is far from the most direct! So what are we learning? Creation itself tells us that the Creator is willing to yield control within his creation, there is “space” for people and things to move in their own way. There is another aspect which is even closer to home. The Lord’s patience says he’s not in a hurry. He doesn’t coerce us, doesn’t force our hand, instead He waits patiently, for us to respond to His initiatives of care. Paul put it this way in the parallel passage in 1Cor 13.4-5. 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, This lifestyle is seen most clearly in Jesus who clearly did not live His life with an iron fist. In fact, Jesus reigns most powerfully from His yielding control to the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit and being placed on the Cross! There is probably no better picture of patience than the Savior of all hanging on the Cross! This patience is for purpose! If you’ve ever considered patience as passivity, don’t! It’s the power of God, his very character! Peter understood this and writes in 2Peter 3.8-9 8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. { We may need a thought or two about time itself! } 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 The Spirit’s patience is always with purpose. God is patient with us because He loves us! He puts up with, waits on, yields control to, restrains Himself, not by stuffing things, but by loving — choosing for our highest good, even at cost to self! It is suggested that “patience” includes a powerful view of “hope”! When God is “patient” toward us it is with the “hope” of what can be ahead! Likewise, when we are “patient” with others it is with “hope” of what lies ahead, e.g., restoration, regeneration, relationship! Paul knew this truth most personally (as all of us who stop and think of our lives will). 1Tim 1.16. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus { Messiah } Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Patience is fundamental to relationship! Have you ever tried to have a relationship with someone who’s impatient? Patience is this beautiful facet of love! It’s the character of God and the powerful Fruit of the Holy Spirit in us as we walk in step with him! In fact, it can be suggested that lack of patience is a lack of spiritual strength! Paul writes, Rom 15.1-2. 1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. 2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. Here we see some connection between peace and patience. Patience is necessary for establishing peace. Our willingness to be wronged, to absorb evil without retaliation, helps break the cycle of vengeance and opens the possibility for healing. Patience is often the soil of Forgiveness, which is key to bringing peace! Forgiveness is unimaginable without patience. Indeed, the key to understanding forgiveness is the truth of substitutionary atonement, taking the wrong of another to self, accepting the pain, brokenness, hurt, and not stuffing it but absorbing it. And, we’re back to the Cross of Jesus for our lesson! And, the absorption material for patience is love! Along the line of showing tolerant-patience, think how this shows in our concept of something like “time.” We press time, measure it, use it, redeem it (although I’m not sure how much biblical redemption is often here), and hold it oh so dearly. We get out of sorts with long traffic lights, slow people, slow responses. We protect jealously “our time.” We have been deceived that we master time! File in our heads and our lives that in no way are we the master of time! We are always “acted upon” by others, often deflected, derailed, or delayed if you will. We are not in control! We are not regimented by the clock, we are regimented by love! It is THE MARK of a follower of Jesus! NOT time management! We learned this from our heavenly Father who not only loved us, he has been patient with us! He poured this love into us when, through our faith in Jesus, He transformed us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His marvelous Son. 3 He did this so we would be his children, in the likeness of his Son! And, Christlikeness is loving. And, Christlikeness is patience. One of our dominant culture’s obstacles is our understanding of time. Most of history has related time to the cycles of the created order, e.g., the rising and setting of the sun, the phases of the moon, the seasons of the year. In sixteenth-century rural France time was regularly measured by Aves — the amount of time it takes to recite one Hail Mary. Time was connected with something meaningful, vital, and concrete in life, such as prayer or planting. Along comes the mechanical invention of the clock, a device developed in the West by Benedictine monks as an aid to their rigorous schedule of prayer and work. Amazingly, this invention opened the door to considering time as something other than a meaningful, vital, seamless flow of life. Now time took on its own life! It was segmented, scheduled, and managed. We are so accustomed to thinking of time as segmented, scheduled, and managed it is absolutely “normal.” Consider how this affects your Christlikeness! We glance at our watches regularly since we have to make the most of time, all the time. It is foreign to us that the concept of the hour was unknown to most in the Middle Ages and that the almighty “second” did not appear until the 1700s. There’s no question that understanding time can make for better connections and cooperation — BUT — time has become our master and not our servant! Time is not seen as a gift of God for the flow of life, but it’s a commodity we manage for profit, and mostly personal profit. We “horde” time, increasingly conscious of the resource and our possession of it. It’s “my time” and I need to use it wisely(?), or maybe better, selfishly. It’s a commodity, something I must control. We virtually never see time except in isolation, i.e., self-time. We virtually never see time in the concept of community, so, the concept of “taking time” for others is virtually gone. We’ve already filled ALL THE TIME! Why? I have so many things “I” have to do! Don’t miss the pronouns! Can we ever hope to be patient with people when we believe our time is our own? Can we ever be patient when we live on the assumption that time is something we must preplan and optimize? Can we ever hope to be patient with God when we believe our time is so important to us? We can’t handle it when God say, “WAIT”! By precisely segmenting time and transforming time into a scarce commodity, we have created the conditions for a new commodity, productivity. We “exalt” productivity. 4 Productivity is simply this: a quantifiable amount of work achieved during a specific length of time. The more work per unit of time, the greater the productivity. Once productivity is regarded as the benchmark we have now established the concept of worth. So, we ask the question, “What do you have to show for your time?” The answer is often seen in a paycheck, a product, or a playtime! What happens when demands are placed on our time and we have little to show for it? How do we feel? Isn’t it directed toward our sense of worth? Are you aware that most stay-at-home parents experience great frustration and intense loss of esteem because they have, by our dominant culture’s standards, very little to show for their time! An illustration from my own life may help make this clearer. When Diane and I immigrated to Canada we were interviewed by the Canadian consulate located in Dallas, TX. During the interview Diane was asked “what she did.” She had put on the application for immigration that she was a “homemaker.” The consulate questioned this point directly saying, “Can’t you do something?” In one man’s opinion Diane was “unproductive” to stay at home. We are insanely results oriented, productivity driven, measurable, and tangible in every way. Economists and social scientists agree that the value of time rises as we perceive there’s increased opportunity. I want to give you an assignment — look at what you think are “opportunities” and ask, “Opportunities for what”? “Opportunities for whom”? And, pull out the ruler of Christlikeness and “check” it! Our culture says, the more options for ways to “spend” my time, the more valuable that time becomes. Our constant constraint of time as a way of life bears on the fruit of patience. With such a mind-set so firmly implanted, being patient, being willing to be acted upon — can we even stomach “waiting” — looks so much to us like passivity we’re hard pressed to practice patience. Being patient appears to be weakness, they may be little to show. What could be worse than “waiting” or “taking no action,” really “doing nothing,” which is what being patient often looks like? The hard truth in much of life is we do not have time for one another. People are highly unproductive! They drain your energy and sap your resources, not the least of which is time. We can get “bogged down” with people and they hold back being productive. Maybe we should ask, “Productive in what”!?! Perhaps this is why situations which require waiting invariably bring out the worst in us. Our culture and technology is committed to speed and seeks to encourage impatience. We are often committed to quick fixes, not the long haul! We love pat, pragmatic, solutions, not patient love with a person! 5 The Spirit is far more concerned with the process than the event. We have come to believe that arriving at the destination is all that matters, thus we’re always out to speed up the process. So what might we do to cultivate PATIENCE? Let me say, this will be no easy matter in a culture obsessed with productivity and speed, which are intimately tied to our self-worth. Yet, here are three suggestions to cultivate patience. First — Remembering God’s story. When we get together it is important to remember that at the heart of the Christian story, my story, is our Lord who is patient. He is one who works patiently, even over generations, to not only reach the objective but to build people in the process, all the while unfolding his character, his nature, his life which he has given to those who’ve received his Son as our Savior. He drops “forty years” in a blink. Jesus dropped His first thirty years without hardly a word noted about his life. God is not in a hurry. It’s not because He does not understand time, He created it. It’s because He loves and is unfolding his glory in life. Time is set by the speed of love for the Lord and the Lord’s people. Even being “nailed down” is not a problem to Jesus! Remember God’s Story and our Bible tells us well the patience of God! Second — Reckoning time differently. As God’s children, believers in Jesus, we’re living in the present, part of God’s work today, built on the past, and looking to the future. Yet, we are the future, right here, right now. The Lord is working here, today, now in bearing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives! While we have a future, built upon a past, all belonging to the sovereign work of God, time is here, in our lives at this moment, with this family, with this job, with this body of believers, with the person next to you, with this disease, with this condition, with these circumstances! With this different view of time we have a different capacity to live in the Spirit and love others! We do not see time as a commodity, the shortage hanging over our heads. We see time as a grace gift in which the Lord has liberated us from the necessity of finding worth in anything save love. The Lord has created a “time-ful” people who redeem the time, not for tomorrow but to love someone now. We don’t spend time, we use God’s gift, not to contribute to our own status only but to care for others in the love of Jesus — when — NOW! We INVEST time! Remembering God’s story. Reckoning time differently. And — be — Third — Rocking to a different rhythm. Central to our lives between Christ’s first advent and His second advent is waiting. We are a waiting people. So was our Savior! 1Pet 2.23, 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in 6 return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; Rock to a different rhythm. Please DO NOT attempt to have patience by being a strong person! It won’t work! You can’t do it! You can’t grit your teeth hard enough! The best you can offer is to stuff all your frustration, typically to become very “impatient” (this is the mild form of the volcanic activity) in the future. Somewhere down this road you’ll share a piece of your mind you should have never been without! And, in your unloving actions, you’ll damage relationship, turn away from the Spirit, and dishonor the God who loves you! Patience is the work of the Spirit of God in our lives! We need a different rhythm for life! That rhythm is FAITH in our Great God! And that faith is in the face of all the things in which our enemy would have us mar the image of Jesus in us through impatience! Where is your faith? Where? Jerry Bridges writes, “The person who is patient under mistreatment by others is the person who has developed such a confidence in the wisdom, power, and faithfulness of God that he willingly entrusts his circumstances into His hands.” We exalt to wait, for our New Life is testified, God Himself is “slow to anger” (Ex 34.6-7) toward us, and Jesus is glorified! We rock to a different rhythm. If you like the music analogy, it’s because we’re dancing in step with the Holy Spirit! And, a great deal of the bickering ceases when we’re dancing in this garden of the Spirit! Again, Jerry Bridges writes, ‘Impatience with the shortcomings of others often has its roots in pride. John Sanderson observes, “Hardly a day passes but one hears sneering remarks about the stupidity, the awkwardness, the ineptitude of others.” Such remarks stem from a feeling that we are smarter or more capable than those with whom we are impatient. Even if that is actually true . . . the Word of God (1Cor 4.7) says everything we have and are we received from God . . . so we have no reason to feel that we are any better than anyone else. How are your dance steps of patience with those around you going? Maybe it’s the day to take some “dance lesson”? The FIRST STEP might well be confession to God far all your demandingness! The SECOND STEP may well be hearing what God has to say about the Spirit’s garden where he has set you free to live a New Life, not some veneer over the old ways? The THIRD STEP might be to ask someone’s forgiveness! The FORTH STEP might be in looking for someone to dance with — in love — BEING PATIENT! 7 Now, you’re dancing with the Spirit! Take the hand of the Holy Spirit today, because keeping in step with Him the new rhythm begins! It begins with FAITH which meets our FORGIVENESS in the Grace of God through Jesus the Messiah. That FORGIVENESS brings us into a new FAMILY — we’re adopted as God’s children so we live like God’s Son — blessed with every spiritual blessing, with a NEW FUTURE, and the growing FRUIT of the very character of our God and Savior — love — Where: Here! When: Now! — which unfolds in the new rhythm of life — patience! Let’s dance! 8
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