We have spent the last several weeks studying the Spiritual gifts that Paul lists in Galatians 5. We have talked about love, joy, and peace, and we have reminded ourselves that these should not be badges we wear with pride, but instead they are gifts we humbly receive to point others to Jesus. We have also reminded ourselves that these gifts help us to go beyond in love, joy and peace, more than we are able to go ourselves.
The same is true of the next gift that Paul mentions: patience. All of us are born with a certain amount of patience, even those who say, or of whom it is said that they have no patience. When our loved ones disappoint us or hurt us, we don’t generally break off the relationship on the first offense. We choose to stay in relationship, because we are patient and look forward to the one who hurt us making a better decision next time.
But there is a point at which all of our patience runs out, and it is at different points for different people. The spiritual gift of patience comes when we are able to see what is taking place in a person’s life, not from our angle, but from God’s point of view.
Think for a second of who you were when you were half your age. Whether you are 20 or 80 years old, I would imagine that when you think of the decisions you made back then, you are grateful that the people in your life were patient with you. Even more so, I would imagine that if you take a step back and think about mistakes you made toward God back then, you are grateful that God remained patient with you, showing grace when even you knew you didn’t deserve it.
The same is true of us, that when we show diligent patience toward others, and even toward ourselves, then we are receiving and exercising the Spiritual gift of patience. We experience the Spiritual gift of patience in other ways, too, like when we allow others who are less experienced than us to lead for the sake of their learning, even when we are capable ourselves, or when we decide to make room in our schedules for things that we know will take time.
And it is the patience that we receive from God’s Spirit that allows us to love, to find joy and to experience the peace of God we talked about before. So as we walk through worship today, and as we continue to “do church” as Central Baptist, let us find God’s patience working through us.