Mar. 29, 2017

Patience

Ephesians 5:22-23~
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

It is said that patience is a virtue. Indeed it is. In this crazy world you must have it or you will be as crazy as the rest of the world. Our patience is tested each day, is it not? Now, in the King James Bible the mention of "patience" is repeated, yet in the "Fruit of the Spirit it is listed as "LONGSUFFERING". There is a "patience" that deals with the normal course of things and events in our lives over which we have no control whatsoever, such as traffic signals, rain, hot summers, etc. This patience referred to as "longsuffering" is strictly patience toward our fellow human beings. This is the area where we find the most difficulty and it is wise to use the strengthening power of the Holy Spirit to provide the "fruit".

When longsuffering is applied, interestingly, people will notice. Take for example my trip to Sam's Wholesale after Church one Sunday. When I find a place to park, it is usually close to one of the "cart corrals". (I am a Southerner and we don't have shopping carts...we have "buggies", so in my case it would be a "buggy bin".) Fortunately, I drive a MINI Cooper so there was enough room to park next to the buggy bin, because someone had left their buggy NEXT to it but not in it. I further noted that the spot in front of mine was occupied by another buggy next to the bin and not in it. Hmmmm....seems if you were that close you could have gone ahead and put it in the proper spot instead of tying up a parking spot. But, with a smile on my face, I put one buggy in the bin and pushed the other into the store.

Anyone who has been to a "Big Box" store on a weekend knows that it is usually crowded on the weekends, so you learn quickly longsuffering when the two old friends shut down a whole aisle as they reminisce every day since high school. If I was in a hurry, I would never have come on a weekend at this time of day.

After I had loaded my buggy with everything a single man with a cat could possibly need, I headed to the check out. Ahhhhhhhh....therein is the ultimate test in longsuffering! I found a lane with only one customer in line and positioned behind her. She proceeded to put her items on the belt, using one hand, one at a time and each item requiring profound contemplation as to which one should be next. The entire time, "Ashley" the dear, LONGSUFFERING cashier had finally given up on asking for her Club card so she could begin checking. She did announce that she did not need to take the larger items out as she could scan them in the buggy. The lady with relief in her voice said, "Ohhhhh...Thank you!" I didn't say it, but I thought the same thing. When the scanning was finished and was informed of the amount due, THEN she looks for her checkbook in her massive purse. Upon finally retrieving it, she begins to fill it out...asking again, "How much was it?" The check has to be run through the machine anyway, so all she had to do was sign it and hand it to Ashley, the machine would have filled it out for her.

When it was my turn I asked her, "Aren't you glad that the Lord has taught you patience?" With a slight laugh, with a degree of exasperation she said, "YESSSSSSsssss!" Sweet girl. She kept her smile and sweet disposition the entire time. I told Ashley, "I was tempted to tell her to give you her card AND that she could use both hands when loading the conveyor." The gentleman behind with whom I engaged in a conversation gave me a good ole Baptist "Amen!"

I look back on this otherwise mundane experience and I analyzed the accomplishments experienced. The lady in front of me saw a pleasant smile from me. The gentleman behind me, dressed in his "Sunday-Go-To-Meeting" suit had a pleasant conversation about our Church services this morning. And Ashley, dear Ashley, had confirmation that her patience and professionalism was duly noted.

We, especially as Americans, have grown too impatient over the course of our history. Yes, the events of our period in history can be exasperating at best. We really do need to exercise patience over the things of which we have no control.

But what about LONGSUFFERING; patience with those in our periphery? This cannot be maintained by "self-effort". I know in my own soul there are times when the flesh desires to take over, how are we doing in that department? It could use a little work, I am sure! Now here is the key: Since this is a "fruit of the Spirit" and not a "fruit of the flesh" it is obvious where the source of our stress and anxiety toward others has its source. In our flesh. Therefore, the classic saying, more than just a pithy adage, comes into fruition here:

LET GO and LET GOD.

We cannot do this in of ourselves. We must be yielded to the Holy Spirit in that He may Glorify God through us. Show the unbelieving world this is not an "act of piety", yea, this is the reality of the yielded Believer!

Have a Blessed Day!
~Brother Mike