My nerves are shot, I’ve had it up to here, I’m all out of patience, and you’re on my last nerve, I can’t anymore of this, and I won’t deal with this any longer. We’ve all said or at least thought of these statements throughout life.
Growing up in church I have even heard the advice that I shouldn’t even pray for patience, as if that in someone way God will answer my request for patience by rendering suffering. It seems that even in Protestantism, it is understood that patience, if not yet possessed, is only acquired by suffering.
My favorite place to find the word ‘patience’ in the Bible, is in the list of the Fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 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.
The Fruit of the Spirit is the Character of Christ, as the Holy Spirit, Christ, and the Heavenly Father are One. The Fruit of the Spirit is the Characteristics of the Eternal Son; Jesus Christ. These Characteristics, these fruit of the Spirit, are what the Heavenly Father desires to see when He gazes upon us. When we stand before our Heavenly Father to be judged, it is my hope that He says more of Christ than of Joshua Mangels. For this is what the Father prefers to see; the Image of His Son.
Character is the mental or moral qualities of an individual.
But we are all well aware that moral are completely subjective in our modern culture, and we, being members of modern society, must assume that we may be greatly influenced by the ideology of our age.
The problem for us than is that character, mental and moral qualities must be compared, but to what and to whom?
Although we live in a postmodern, and post Christian culture, many are still able to instinctively recognize and appreciate character. Although we as a society have forgotten how to come by character in great measure or how to grow in it, we have some disciplines that may promote certain aspects of character, such as military disciplines, job training, ethics studies, and the humanities. But when all the dust settles, we also lose meaning of character without a commonly accepted benchmark.
My favorite barbecue restaurant in Texas has marked off on the wall the watermarks of various floods going back decades. They have left the watermarks on one wall of the inside of the building, and the rest of the walls have been painted over. When I first noticed the marks, I scanned the other walls to look for signs of the watermark, but noticed that one wall and no signs whatsoever as the paint had been applied heavy, while on another wall the watermark could still be faintly seen under the paint.
In the case of the wall without a watermark, when or if there is a new flood, one may claim that it is the highest water mark, as there is no record of the high marks of the past. While on the wall with the faint watermark, one may contest the claims of which mark is higher and have a valid argument. But on the wall where the watermarks have been left untouched, there is no argument of which watermark is highest, the evidence is plain for all to see!
So it is for us now who would recognize character. There are many markets of character on the wall, as it were, but if we look, we can find in Christ Jesus, the highest watermark of character and the great return the Heavenly Father seeks from us. Many so called luminaries and religious leaders have come and gone and left their mark, but there is only One who has reached so high as to be the Very Christ of God, and the very Second Person of the Trinity. In Himself he exemplified the Fruit of the Spirit, which is the character God intends for mankind.
In His perfect Holy life, Christ Jesus exemplified best what patience is, and better translated into the English word; Long-suffering. Jesus, as all God and all Man, was subject to all our temptations and trials, yet did not sin. Even when accused of blasphemy when he was on trial before the high priest, he held his tongue, he did not respond in like kind, as they slapped and falsely accused Him.
Even with His Disciples He displays the greatest of patience in teaching, loving, and forming them to be His Apostles.
And now, He is seated by the Right Hand of the Father, by His Grace, continues to show us the wide boarders of His Patience with fallen humanity.
And so we have the highest watermark of patience and character in general, in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Now the benchmark is recognized, how can we reach to it? How may we develop character?
The secret of character development is the realization of the power we have for good and for evil, which are both a product of the human will.
Many claim their passions take over and their will is overridden but this we will find is false. There is nothing wrong with passion, energy and strength, as long as they’re channeled for good.
Anyone can overcome their own human will, with the Power of God whose Grace is always extended to those who would conquer fleshy desires in favor for Godliness. Repeatedly in the scripture, we have examples of God empowering obedience. His Power, His Grace, is always extended to those would overcome character defects.
We must understand that character is in the will, not in the intellect, not in the brains.
The intellect is the knowledge possessed, while the will is the seat of love, choice, and responsibility. Most education now is focused on knowledge, and not character. Here’s one example;
In the modern teaching style, we see in Mathematics that showing the work is no longer required. The knowledge is checked, but not the character.
This is a denial of the reality that everything were do and say goes into the making of our character.
The great gift is free choice. But the order of the day is deny or even give up free choice by blaming others for our condition. Socialism and Communism would blame others who have more for the condition of those who have less. Psychology would blame the environment or biological conditions for the behavior of the subject. This is all subhuman and a denial of the great creature of choice God has created us to be.
The quality of character is in the will and we must not surrender that responsibility. If our will is determined by forces outside of ourselves, then we no longer make amendments for the wrongs we have committed. And no character will grow without the demand to amend the misdeeds that have been committed. There must be a recognition of what true Character is, and the self imposed responsibility to be molded to that true image God desires.
At the county fair, a man sculptures logs into images. He begins by cutting big chunks of wood off. This is a demand for us; to begin to cut off; hatred, malice, envy, and lust. Once this is finished, we then may focus on the small details. This is how we build character. And what kills character? Pride, envy, wrath, gluttony, lust, sloth and greed.
So those who seem to have exemplified the fruit of the Spirit such as patience, long-suffering, have really worked on it!
We live in a day of emotions, not reason. Many would say, “I’ll work on it when I feel it”, but the good news of the Gospel is you don’t have to wait till you “feel it”. You may take Christ up on His offer for a new life today! You may take up this cause of preparing yourself to be presented before the Heavenly Father. But you will need a model, and God provided not only a model, but a Savior, in Christ jesus.
He shows us what justice, mercy, and self sacrifice truly is.
He shows us how to rip of these pieces of selfishness pride and lust.
In John 13:34 Jesus says, “love one another, as I have loved you”.
This is the ultimate summary; love!
And the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:10-14,
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
So if it requires sufferings to be conformed into the image acceptable to God, so be it. And I say, let us pray for patience! Let us pray to have the Characteristics of Christ! Let us pray that we may die to the self that wars against the Spirit, and live unto God that pure life of Jesus Christ, which is Righteousness, and Righteous Living is it’s own reward.