Don’t Pray for Patience

I have said this in different contexts, so I feel obligated to mention here on the new blog.  I was talking to our men’s group Wednesday morning.  We are still working our way through the Fruit of the Spirit.  That morning we talked about patience, kindness and goodness.

Here is the trap that we fall into.  We think that we want to be more patient, and we recognize that we need God’s help.  So we pray for God to help us become more patient.  Here is the problem.  The way that God teaches us patience is to put us into situations that call for patience.  Who wants that?  Who wants to be put in frustrating situations?

Here’s the reality.  Life is full of such situations whether or not you are praying for patience or not.  We just become more aware of them as God is putting our need for patience in the front of our minds and hearts.  (All it takes for me is missing a stop light or someone in front of met to go 2 miles under the speed limit in front of me.)  Honestly, there are few traits I need more in my life than patience. I wish that my first responses to what life throws out was grace, kindness and calm. What a difference that would make in my life, my family, my church, etc.  So despite all of the advice that I have given over the years, I am now praying for patience. I’ll keep you all posted.

Who you are not what you do.

I met with a group of guys this morning. We are meeting every Wednesday morning. We call it a leadership class, but it is not what you would necessarily expect from a leadership class. We have spent the entire fall talking about our spiritual life and how that provides the foundation for everything in our lives. Our relationship with God is not a piece of our lives but it is the driver for everything in our lives.

Anyway, we have been looking at Galatians 5 for the last couple of weeks. What I was struck by today is what Paul describes as the “fruit of the Spirit.” What he says next is what Paul believes is the primary evidence/result of God’s Spirit in our lives. He could have said anything: “The fruit of the Spirit is church attendance, serving, tithing . . .” “The fruit of the Spirit is working soup kitchens, feeding the poor, . . .” The fruit of the Spirit is not stealing, not drinking, not having sex outside of marriage. . .” “The fruit of the Spirit is speaking in tongues, performing miracles, healing, . . .”

All of those things are things that we do, but the result of God’s Spirit in us is who we are. God is interested in transforming our character, not in simply altering our behavior. It is when God changes our character that then our behavior really changes. Our behavior does not change our character.

(Expect more on this)