As I have been preparing for this Sunday’s sermon on the Fruit of the Spirit, I am amazed, once again, at just how practical the Word of God is for every person, no matter the age of that person. Over the past 3 weeks during our children’s worship service called theROC, we have been examining the Fruit of the Spirit. Here is a quick review of what we have been learning.
We have seen that there are actually 2 kinds of fruit mentioned in Galatians 5. First, we see the fruit of our sin nature. This is who were really are, apart from Christ. These characteristics naturally manifest in us because of our sin nature. All we have to do is keep living and these characteristics will be manifested. That is the bad news. The good news is that because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we can be transformed from the inside out. When we understand and accept the Gospel, God causes us to be born again, placing His Holy Spirit in us. The manifestation of the Holy Spirit is love. Now, as we yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit, our sin nature is no longer manifested. Love is now manifested in us, moment by moment, day by day. What does love look like? It produces joy and peace in us no matter what is going on around us. As we give in to the power of the Gospel by studying the Word, praying, and serving, God’s joy and peace dominate our daily lives.
In this lesson, we are going to focus on God’s patience and kindness. What does it look like and how is it manifested in us and through us? Our main passage is found in Galatians 5:19-23.
I. Patience and Kindness begin with God
There are multiple passages that could be used to explain God’s patience and kindness but I want to limit this to just one, Romans 2:4. God extends His patience and kindness to us, while we are separated from Him and His enemies. What do these two words mean? They are in direct contrast to our sin nature. Our sin nature is easily provoked. We all have buttons, that if pushed, will set us off and boil us over in anger. God’s nature is the exact opposite. He is patient with us, even though we constantly try to push His buttons. It takes a long time to provoke God to anger. God shows that patience to us all of our lives. He could immediately punish us when we disobey, but, He chooses not to do so. He is patient with us leading us to the point of repentance. The second word used is kindness. The literal meaning of kindness here is “useful”. God is kind to us showing patience even though we do not deserve it. His kindness leads us to repentance. Now we become useful to God and to the people around us. Our sin nature does not want us to be useful to others. Our sin nature is selfish and actually looks at others with envy and jealousy. How is this manifested in our daily lives? I would like to take a look at the apostle Paul and see how patience and kindness were shown to him and then how he began to show patience and kindness to others.
II. Paul’s experience
Before encountering Christ and repenting, Paul was called Saul. He was a very religious person who was led by his flesh. He did not have a relationship with God, even though he claimed to be serving God and acting on God’s behalf. He was very selfish, envious, and jealous of the people who were accepting Christ and being born again. He also had no patience with them, seeking them out and even putting them to death, in the name of his beloved religion. God was patient with Saul. God extended His kindness by sending Christ to meet with Saul on the road to Damascus. Saul realized how wrong he had been and he repented, having a change of mind that led to a change of action. He received the Holy Spirit and began to manifest love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. As a result, Saul, who changed his name to Paul, became useful to the Lord and to the people around him. He spread the Gospel to most of the known world, giving others a chance to experience the love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness of God.
III. Paul’s example
As Paul began to minister to the people around him, his patience and kindness would be tested by many, many people who were still controlled by their sin nature. One of those tests would come in the form of one of the churches that he planted in modern day Greece. The city was Corinth and the people of Corinth were entrenched in sin, being led by their sin nature. God had mercy on them and He was patient with them. He extended His kindness to them in the person of Paul, a missionary who carried the message of the Gospel with him. He shared that message in Corinth and a church was formed. Now, these believers had a new nature because of the Holy Spirit. Even though they had a new nature, they still had their old nature that wanted to be manifested. They tested Paul’s patience by trying to push all of his buttons. Remember, Paul also had a sin nature like the Corinthians. Would Paul allow his buttons to dictate his reaction or would he be led by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Corinthians made some false accusations about Paul and he was angry. He chose not to visit them and address those accusations in person because of his anger. He wanted to be patient with them. Instead, he wrote them letters to try to show them the error of their ways. He wanted to visit them and rejoice with them but in their current state, he could not. He wanted to give them a chance to repent. Paul also extended kindness to them by becoming useful to them. Not only did he point out their mistakes, he also gave them the necessary advice to fix those mistakes. They allowed Paul to be useful to them by listening to his advice. They repented and their relationship with Paul was restored, as well as their fellowship with God.
What about you my dear friend, have you allowed the patience and kindness of God to lead you to repentance? Now that you have experienced God’s patience and kindness, are you extending them to the people around you? How do you respond when people push your buttons? Are you being useful to God and to the people around you? May the Lord help all of us experience His patience and goodness so that we can extend them to the people around us.