Crossroads Church
People on mission with God
Worship with
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Crossroads Church
People on mission with God
www.crossroadschurchcma.org
175 County Road 78, Middletown NY 10940
845-343-8267

Digging Deeper

ABOUT PATIENCE


Posted: 5/8/2013

You, too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.  James 5:8

Opening Illustration: A Farmer

We can learn much about patience by observing ordinary farmers.  Farmers plant, pull weeds, cultivate, and harvest.  Every day before the harvest, a farmer will do at least two things: watch and wait.  He knows that the harvest will come if he will just be patient.  So he watches for problems that need solving while he waits for his precious crops to grow.  A farmer knows that he cannot hurry the harvest.  It will come in due time.

To Discuss:

•     How would you describe a patient person?

•     What are some of the things that try your patience on a daily basis?

•     How does it feel when you lose your patience?

Review from previous week:

•     What aspect of the fruit of the Spirit did we study last week?

•     What are some things you learned about biblical peace?

•     How have you lived out the aspect of peace in your life this week?

What is Patience?

We are beginning to see now that none of the aspects of the Fruit of the Spirit stands alone.  You cannot have true joy without love.  And true joy brings peace.  And it is impossible to be patient without love, joy and peace.  Of all the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, patience is the one that gets a bad wrap, doesn’t it?  How many times have you heard someone say, “Don’t pray for patience!”  Why?  Because when we pray for patience, God seems to give us opportunities to be patient, doesn’t He?  These “opportunities” are often difficult people or situations that try our patience.

We don’t have to be afraid to pray for patience.  As believers, we can long to be patient in the same way we long to be joyful, kind and good.

Read the Scripture:

* The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

Definition of Patience

•     Endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance, long-suffering, slowness in avenging wrongs

This definition brings to mind several images.  Remember way back in kindergarten when you first heard the story of the tortoise and the hare?  Slow and steady wins the race…that’s steadfastness.  If you talk to a marathon runner he will tell you that successfully completing a marathon isn’t about speed…it’s about finding a pace for each individual mile that enables you to endure for 26 miles…that’s perseverance.

To Discuss:

•     How does what you learned in previous lessons about love, joy and peace relate to patience?

•     Discuss the definition of the word patience in Galatians 5:22.

•     How does a person become more patient?

•     Why do you think being patient is so hard?

Influential People are Patient People

We find in the definition of patience the word long-suffering, which describes patience well.  Long-suffering is more than suffering for a long time, which is what patience feels like at times.  Long-suffering is the willingness to exercise patience, perseverance, and persistence in the pursuit of worthy goals.  It’s the ability to be slow to anger, slow to lose hope, and slow to quit even when everyone around you is acting with impatience.  Today we are going to discuss three principles about patience.

Difficult People Must Be Handled with Patience

As believers, we must learn to deal patiently with difficult people.  Anyone can be patient when it is easy.  However, it takes supernatural patience to respond with grace and kindness to a difficult person.

Patience is not passivity or indifference.  It is not a fatalistic attitude toward life that sits back, twiddles its thumbs and says, “Whatever will be, will be.”  Patience does not mean that you never get angry; anger is not always wrong.  Sometimes a lack of anger is wrong.  Patience means you are slow to anger and quick to get rid of it.  Too often we are just the opposite.  We are quick to get angry and slow to rid ourselves of it.  When we allow anger to stay, we become bitter, hold grudges, or try to get even.

Read the Scripture:

* A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel. Proverbs 15:18

* Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.  Prov. 16:32

You cannot get away from people who are going to try your patience.  In fact, the people you love the most will try your patience the most.  In any relationship, whether at home or at the office, patience can salvage partnerships that are worth keeping.

Difficulties are opportunities in disguise to help you cultivate patience.  And the more patient you become, the more influential you become because we all navigate toward people who control their emotions in difficult circumstances.

Read the Scripture:

* Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Ephesians 4:2

* We urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  1 Thessalonians 5:14

Ephesians 4:2 says to “bear “with one another in love.  The definition of this word is: To stand firm; to endure.  Notice how this relates to the definition we saw earlier of patience.  This one verse contains 3 aspects of the fruit of the Spirit – gentleness, patience and love.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:14 we are commanded to be patient with everyone.  Yet Paul also urges believers to “warn,” “encourage,” and “help” as they are patient.  We see here that being patient is not being passive.  We must choose patience as we carry out the good works that Christ has for us to do.  Also, notice the types of people they are to be patient with…idle (lazy), timid (shy), and weak.  Aren’t these just the types of people that try one’s patience?

For Discussion:

•     How does patience calm others in difficult situations?

•     What does God say about a patient man in Proverbs 16:32?

•     How does Ephesians 4:2 say we are to deal with difficult people?

•     What does it mean to “bear with one another in love?”

•     What are believers urged to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:14?

•     Based on this verse, are patient people passive people?  Explain your answer.

Demanding Problems Must Be Handled with Perseverance

Have you ever had anyone say to you, “I have some bad news and some good news… which do you want first?”  Well, here is the bad news:  Everybody has problems.  And we always will.  Our problems exist because of sin.  This doesn’t mean we always have problems or trials because we sin.  But difficulties come in part because of God’s curse on the world in Genesis 3.

Christians are not immune to problems.  Jesus said, “In the world, you will have trouble…” (John 16:33).  Jesus went on in that passage to pray not that God would take us out of the world and all it’s trouble, but that God would protect us from the evil one in the midst of our problems.

Have you ever considered why we have problems?  Here is the good news:  Problems are not meant to defeat us, depress us, or discourage us.  God means for them to develop us.  Problems are not tools to tear us down but tests to build us up.  As believers, we must begin to view our problems as opportunities rather than obstacles.  Most of the greatest lessons we will ever learn will come during hard times.  Persevering with patience produces growth spiritually.

Read the Scripture:

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.  John 6:33

We rejoice in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Romans 5:3-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.   James 1:2-4

For Discussion:

•     According to John 6:33, will our lives ever be problem-free…even when we obey Christ?

•     How is it possible for believers have joy and peace in a world full of suffering?

•     Read Romans 5:3-4.  Why can believers rejoice, even in suffering?

•     What do you think it means to rejoice in suffering?  Does that mean we like it?  (Leader Note:  The word “rejoice” here is translated “exult” and it means: to glory)

•     What does suffering produce if we bear it patiently?

•     According to James 1:2-4, how should we as believers view the hardships we face, both big and small?

•     Why should we have this attitude toward trials?

•     What does this attitude say to others about our God?

God’s Purposes are Fulfilled Through Persistence

Patience, perseverance and persistence go hand-in-hand.  These traits are difficult to develop because they involve waiting, and most of us don’t like to wait.  It’s one of the most difficult things we have to do in life.  In a culture that survives on frozen dinners, fast food, packaged cake mixes, wireless Internet, and freeway express lanes, it’s difficult to wait.  If the truth were known, sometimes we would rather do the wrong thing than wait.

Instant success is a myth.  Standing on top of the mountain is a thrill, but getting to the top requires a persistent climb.  Almost every significant success comes at the end of a long wait.  In order to accomplish God’s purpose, we must be persistent.  When we fail (not if), we must be willing to get back up and keep going instead of laying down in defeat.  God never promises us an easy life, but He does promise us all we need to accomplish His plan.   Bearing the fruit of the Spirit will take time.  But it is possible for every believer who does not give up.  Isn’t it interesting that Paul used the word “fruit” in Galatians 5:22?  It takes time for a tree to produce fruit, and time for the fruit to ripen on the branches.

Remember Jesus’ words in John 15:5…”I am the Vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”  In our own strength, we will never achieve Christlike patience.  But, if we persistently remain in Christ, relying on His strength, we will bear the fruit of patience, just as He promised in John 15.

Read the Scripture:

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-14

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know your labor in the Lord is not in vain.  1 Corinthians 15:58

To Discuss:

•     Do you find it difficult to be persistent in reaching goals that require a long period of time to reach?  Why or why not?

•     Why do you think most people give up on worthy goals?

•     Why is persistence important when it comes to God’s purpose for our lives?

•     How does Paul describe his persistence in Philippians 3:13-14?

•     What encouragement does 1 Corinthians 15:58 offer regarding persisting in difficult times?

•     What are some practical ways that we can be persistent in our daily lives?

Closing:

Have you ever read about the birth of a giraffe?  The first parts to emerge are the baby’s front hooves and head.  Then the entire calf appears and tumbles 10 feet to the ground, landing on its back.  Within seconds it rolls over and stands, struggling with those gangly, untried legs.  Then an amazing thing happens: The mother giraffe positions herself directly over her newborn calf and looks it over.  Then she swings a long leg outward and kicks that baby, sending it sprawling.  If it doesn’t get up, she kicks it again.  If it grows tired, she kicks it again to stimulate its efforts to stand.

Each time the baby giraffe manages to get to its feet, its mother kicks it over again.  The mother’s actions may seem cruel to us, but she is preparing that little calf for survival.  The calf must learn to get up quickly and run with the herd when danger comes, or it will not survive.

Now, obviously God is not kicking us…but isn’t that what some might think?  They think God is mean because He allows hardship and suffering in the lives of His people.  What if we began to believe that like the mother giraffe, God, in His wisdom, knows that trials are necessary to mature us?

What if we trusted that He is lovingly helping us learn to stand firm in a world that will do everything it can to eat us alive?  Just like that baby giraffe, we are going to fall and struggle to stand.  But each time we patiently endure, we can know that our persistence is not in vain.  God is glorified in our lives when we persevere in faith.

Scripture to Memorize:

You, too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.  James 5:8

Living It Out:

Write on a piece of paper one goal that if achieved would strengthen your relationship with Christ.  Place this paper somewhere you will see it every day.  For 30 days do two things: (1) Every time you see it, say to yourself, Just for today, I’m going to take one step toward achieving this goal, and (2) take that one step.  Patiently persevere for 30 days uninterrupted.  At the end of the month, you will be amazed at how much God has accomplished in your life