(Matthew 22:37-38, NKJV)
But what characteristics allow God to be worthy of such a place in our lives?
What nature does He possess that men and women would come to a position of faith so strong that they would give their lives to Him; even lovingly and sacrificially allow themselves to be martyred in His name?
Today we’ll take a look at the ethos of God…that which He presents openly and transparently in order to actively draw people nearer to Him.
Specifically, we’ll look at the fruits of the Spirit, starting with “longsuffering,” (Galatians 5:22, NJKV), and then we’ll look at one fruit of the Spirit each week for the subsequent eight weeks.
God's Longsuffering (Patience)A coin has two sides; heads and tails.
In calling a coin toss there is at least a 50/50 chance that one will win or lose.
While both heads and tails are part of the whole coin; each side and each flip has a very different outcome. A very different promise. A very different future.
When I was a child, I thought like a child.Did your grandparents have a unique way of teaching and sharing life lessons with you? Here’s one of mine.
Grandpa: “Want to play coin toss?”
Grandpa: “Okay. Heads I win, tails you lose.”
Me: “Got it.”
In my unbridled and youthful enthusiasm I’m sure I barely heard what he said and certainly didn’t understand it.
Embarrassing to say, it took more than a few flips to make me realize that no matter which way the coin landed, I was destined to come up short; always to lose.
A relationship with God is not a coin toss.So many people are putting their eternal destination on the toss of a coin…a toss they cannot possibly win if they choose that side which is not Jesus Christ.
Here’s a reality check: not only can we not win when it comes to providing for our own salvation or being reconciled to God by our own hands, God cannot win either. It is so important for the believer to remember - and for the non-believer to come to realize - that God loves us. He cherishes us and the fact that He is not the one tossing the coin when it comes to choosing or not choosing His grace…we are!
God has supplied the solution that assures mutual joy, both His and ours. He has done this at the great cost of much innocent suffering, while seeking the heart of the sinner who denies, doubts and even reviles Him.
Many people look at the Old and New Testaments as opposing sides of God’s heart. The former is traditionally viewed as angry and vengeful, and the latter as all about love and license.
But they are not! The truth many don’t realize and many more deny is that God’s heart has been all loving and has been calling out to us since the fall of Adam and Eve.
Patience provides the time and space for us to hear.Longsuffering (‘patience’ in some bible versions) is defined as “merciful restraint produced by the Holy Spirit that does not retaliate or give way to anger. Patience is a love for others that shows self-control, even when wronged.
"Those emotions contrary to longsuffering are anger, wrath, pride, selfishness, and bitterness.”
Longsuffering (patience) is the fruit of the Spirit which gives time for other fruits of Spirit to mature and reach their fullest potential in each man, woman and child who has called upon the name of Jesus.
It is also this fruit of the Spirit that gives time for each man, woman and child to hear His voice and come to a position of faith by calling on the name of Jesus.
Still relevant to us todayThink back to a time when you stood at a crossroads between anger and temperance; a time when you chose peace, not anger. In the light of that moment, consider what your life would have looked like if you had chosen anger instead. How would that different decision have changed your life forever?
Could you have fallen out with a parent, a spouse, a child, a co-worker or someone else near and dear to your heart? Could that relationship have been damaged beyond repair or reconciliation? Could you have fallen out with God as you, in your humanness, packed up your toys and headed for home?
Longsuffering allows for the future presentation of God’s grace in our lives, and for it to be made available to others through each of us. Light from within, by His Spirit, shared in a dark world.
Patience on the part of God, disposed toward us collectively and personally, allows for the perfect presentation of God’s desire that all would have the chance to experience His grace and tender mercies - some, even to accept the gift of His love.
Without longsuffering and patience in our lives, there is no future as the relational nuclear option is exercised. Harsh and damning words are uttered. What remains is an emotional scorched earth and the ashen remains of life - a life that only wanted one more day and one more chance to do things better.
Without longsuffering and patience on the part of God, there is no opportunity for more souls to know Him. Time stops, the opportunities are gone, and final judgment rolls forth like peals of thunder, bringing condemnation with it.
God’s heart grieves.
He doesn’t need us - He wants us. There’s a difference.
Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.God has been lovingly calling out to us since the fall of Adam and Eve.
“But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God. “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?”(Ezekiel 18:21-23, NKJV)
God, through His prophet Ezekiel, proclaims clearly for all time and all to know that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. How much more does God prefer that all should come to His side and proclaim their affections for Him; choosing first Him?
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, NKJV) As we read in Genesis 7:16, after Noah and all animals as commanded were aboard, “the Lord shut him in.” Here we see the longsuffering and the patience of God toward mankind and all creation as He works out His plan toward a righteous and perfect solution to the fall of man; to sin entering the world. Here we read about a God, who by His own will and own hand, protects us and proceeds to provide for our eternal future.
Same Heart, same desire, same longsuffering God.Without this particular fruit of the Spirit, there is no future. Without this specific fruit of the Spirit, there is no time for love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control to mature or to be planted in the believer’s heart, maturing in season, and to be presented to others outside of Christianity on God’s behalf and behest.
To what degree and to what extent are we involved in longsuffering on the part of the Lord for others so that they may come to know Him by seeing Jesus in us? In our humanness, do we feel ourselves becoming discouraged or even going weak in the knees?
At those times we must look to Calvary and the longsuffering (patience) of Jesus Christ who endured all things so that we might see God. “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” (Hebrews 12:3, NKJV)
Let each of us pray in the solitude of our hearts and homes that God may continue His patience toward us. That His Spirit might prevail within us to exhibit patience for one another, that each may come to make the positive choice for Jesus as Savior, Master, Intercessor and Friend.
Keywords: Patience, faith, longsuffering, Jesus, God, love, relationship, reality, salvation, reconcile, solution, joy, emotions, relevance, fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control