Bethel Baptist Church
Service in the building
31 July 2022
This service is available in text format (this page), and is based upon the Service in the Building for 31 July 2022, for which a podcast is also available.
Our Pastor Harry is away on holiday, so I (Graham) have prepared the service for this week. Please pray that the Lord grant our Pastor and his family safety in travelling, good rest and refreshment, and good family relationships at this time.
Please read Matthew 18:21-35; Galatians 5:19-24.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.Galatians 5:22-23
Today we are looking at the fourth aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit, patience. One dictionary definition is, “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious”.
Consider this: it is not enough to display patience some of the time – if I often exercise patience but sometimes fail and vent my anger instead, I cannot claim to have patience.
Some contemporary comments
Impatience ‘costing people £2,000 a year’, “More than half of people polled by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme spend more than they need to for products because they are not willing to wait.”
Headline from insider.co.uk
Impatient people may be ageing faster, scientists suspect, “A new study suggests impatience is a sign that a person is ageing more quickly.”
Headline from the Telegraph
I remember being challenged about patience a few years ago. I used to phone my mother once a week, and visit her around once a month. As she grew older, and my sister started arranging for care workers to visit her, I stepped up the phone calls: I was calling her daily, and clearly she was grateful for the calls. But she was developing Alzheimer’s Disease, and it became common for her to tell me something again, or to ask me a question again – sometimes three times within the space of a minute. I was very busy (often calling her during my lunch break at work), and I found the repetitiveness quite annoying – if she had not got anything else to tell me or ask me, then I needed to end the call. I think on occasions I would exclaim, “Mum, you have already told me that twice!”, which was bad of me, and I did not have a full appreciation of the effect of Alzheimer’s. We need to be patient, we are all different, so we need to give a bit of leeway for one another’s differences.
Guns n’ Roses did a song called “Patience”. I was not aware of it until I tried preparing today’s message, but out of curiousity I took a look at the lyrics – my assessment of the song is that it is about making a relationship work. We can expect our relationships to be much more successful if we exercise patience – or rather, we should expect our relationships to require patience. If a secular rock band recognises the concept, how much more so should the people of God recognise it.
I tried hard to think of other examples in my own life relating to patience: perhaps, waiting for stuff to grow in the garden? Or we have a bread-maker which makes absolutely delightful fresh bread, but it takes five hours for the machine to do its stuff, and then the loaf needs at least two hours to cool, otherwise it too warm and sticky when you try to cut it, so there is quite a wait between setting the bread-maker up and enjoying the results. But I am pretty sure that the Fruit of the Spirit is more about our relationships with other people, than about how we handle practical jobs. Would it be too much to say that God Himself exhibits the Fruit of the Spirit towards us, and He expects us to do likewise towards others? That is what today’s reading, Jesus’ parable, is all about: if God forgives us a huge debt and is patient with us when we continually fail Him, we must forgive one another and show patience over what are really much smaller grievances.
A look at the scriptures
‘The Lord is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.’Num 14:18
That Old Testament verse does not mention patience explicitly, but the evidence of His patience is there – slow to anger, very loving, forgiving; although with a sobering reminder that He is a God of justice, so if we refuse to respond, He cannot hold off His anger indefinitely, He cannot forgive those who effectively refuse to be forgiven.
In our reading from Matthew 18, a servant owed the king 10,000 talents , and begged for patience, promising that he would pay back everything. My Bible has a marginal note identifying that a single talent was equivalent to 15 years wages – the story has an air of the ludicrous about it, it is an impossible amount to repay, one wonders how any individual could accrue such debt. Maybe as the king’s servant he had been responsible for some significant public building in the kingdom, and through his stupidity he had brought about its destruction, so that he was obliged to pay to get it rebuilt or replaced. Amazingly, the king forgave his servant, but the servant had no patience with his colleague who owed 100 days wages.
Jesus shows us that God the Father expects us to show patience and forgiveness towards others, as He does towards us. It is we who have accrued the debt that is impossible to repay; Jesus effectively asks how we may think ourselves entitled to demand immediate repayment of relatively small debts.
Sometimes we do need to be patient about circumstances. Consider what James writes here:
7 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
10 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.James 5:7-11
James gives a couple of specific examples: the farmer who has to wait and give time for the crops to grow. And Job. Job was an extreme case. If Job was patient in the face of suffering, how much more should we be! If anybody had good reason to tell the Lord, “I have had enough, You are not taking care of me, so now I am going my own way, and I do not want to know You”, it is Job. Yet several people in our church seem to have been dealt an unfair share of bad health, and have suffered with it for a prolonged period. Some of those people are so gracious and patient, they always greet you cheerily and ask how you are – may God bless them, they are showing something of the patience of Job.
Please also consider what Paul writes:
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.Ephesians 4:1-3
Here, Paul calls himself “a prisoner for the Lord” and exhorts his reader to be humble, gentle and patient. Most of us are not prisoners, most of us have not experienced prison; but I think we can all be confident that a prisoner has to be patient – he or she will not get out any quicker by being impatient; it seems more likely that impatience would lead to an increased term in custody. As free people, we have the more reason to be patient with one another.
We must display patience, but it is not easy
I found a website called K-Love, K-Love is a Christian ministry with a focus on providing Christian media (music and books). The website states:
Patience can be one of the most challenging fruits of the spirit to cultivate. It’s hard to wait on God and others.
K-Love: the Fruit of the Spirit – patience
The recommendation is to pray, particularly using appropriate scripture verses to help focus the prayers.
I found another website Osprey Observer, for an organisation in Florida, which publishes a community newspaper, clearly with a Christian focus. Just like K-Love, they recognise that patience is a hard fruit to cultivate. The following is just a section of what I read on their site:
Just like physical fruit need time to grow, the fruit of the Spirit will not ripen in our lives overnight. As we mature in our faith, all the characteristics of our spiritual fruits will grow as well.
The fourth fruit of the Spirit is patience. The word ‘patience’ is mentioned in Scripture nearly 70 times. But, really, who has time for patience? All of us have been told at some point in our lives to just be patient. In our age of instant gratification, nobody enjoys patiently waiting.
For most people, patience can be difficult in certain circumstances. Whether it’s waiting in a doctor’s office past your appointment time, sitting in traffic or trying to get the kids to do their chores, patience is sometimes hard to come by.
During these recent times, our days can be long, hard and incredibly stressful. When we’re exhausted or worried, finding patience is probably the last thing on our minds, but it should really be the first. We are told in Psalm 37:7, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.”
Ask God for the patience that you need to get you through all the struggles, pain and trials and may you be like Jesus more and more as He fills you with His love.
Osprey Observer – The Fruit Of The Holy Spirit: What Is Patience?
Patience is one of the more challenging aspects of the Fruit of the Spirit. Probably most of us know what it is to be under pressure, and in the heat of the moment, we just lose it, and then regret that we have set a bad example or been a bad witness. We need to pray that the Lord help us cultivate more patience in order that we might be a blessing to those around us. After all, we need His help – it is called “the Fruit of the Spirit”, it comes from the Holy Spirit, we cannot expect to cultivate it easily on our own.
Lord, thank you for your great patience with me .Please help me to be gracious and patient toward all people, as You are to me. Help me to show something of Your Spirit towards the people that I meet this week, so that they may be attracted to You. Amen.