In Romans 12:9-21 Paul wrote about what the church should look like.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,[a] serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Let love be genuine. What is genuine love? God is love (1 John 4:8). The Bible gives us examples and descriptions of substantial authentic and sincere love. Without the Holy Spirit it is impossible to live that tangible love. John 16:7-15 reads,
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Being Spirit-filled is not an occasional happenstance for the Christian, it is the eternal and constant condition of her life. What does it mean that Holy Spirit convicts of righteousness? That means is that He teaches us who Jesus is and conforms us to His image, Jesus image is love manifested, Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1), that means He is God’s will demonstrated and since God is love, Jesus is love personified and revealed, and lived out for us. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a describes love. It seems an impossible thing to live and love that perfectly, but we have the Holy Spirit of God in us and with God nothing is impossible (Matthew 19:26).
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends.
Let’s look at how similar the fruit of the Spirit is to Paul’s poignant description of love just to understand that God has transformed us to be the description of love, that the evidence of the Holy Spirit in us is that we should love as Jesus loves.
Galatians 5:22-23 reads,
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Today, let’s look at one of the most difficult of the traits to learn, patience. The only way to exercise patience is to be patient. Many versions of the Bible translate the words to longsuffering it means to endure to exercise self-control, tolerance, and mercy, to have fortitude which is stamina, resilience, courage, and determination. The Greek word makroqumew is translated as longanimity which is defined as extraordinary patient endurance of hardship, injuries, or offense; forbearance. You can see it is a choice to be patient. Patience involves self-control and mercy or kindness. In other words, to be patient is to love.
While we wait for the slowest cashier in the store to ring up the person in front of us, who has a large file of coupons with her we can choose to be impatient, works ourselves into anger, and take it out on both people or we can choose to be patient. Patience means we will smile and have compassion as we look at people with God’s heart. We can see the cashier is only trying to do his job to the best of his ability. We can see the customer is being a good steward of her money. We might even see the ways in which these people are struggling and how they could use a good word, some encouragement and truth. Being patient gives us the opportunity to love these people and show them Jesus. In fact, I think it might be a loving and lovely thing to deliberately choose the long line, the line which will give me the chance to love people with patience.
In James 5:7-11 the brother of Jesus and pillar of the early church taught us what patience is.
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
Remembering our Hope which is New Jerusalem with Jesus forever, bearing in mind that Jesus is coming back and our home is not the here and now but eternity with the Lord moves our perspective. We are reminded that this life is very short and our purpose is not our own comfort or veneration. Our purpose is to love others as Jesus loved us and to glorify the Lord.
Patience means we don’t waste precious time complaining and grumbling but joyfully enduring suffering as an example of Jesus to the ones we would want to complain about and to everyone who sees our response to circumstances. Honestly, I hear so many people say they don’t need to use words to tell people about Jesus, they will just do so with their lives. But are they really living life as a testimony to Jesus? Or are they whining, complaining, and even gossiping when the events of life are not what they wish? Glorifying God requires both words and action in congruence with one another. If we do something in the name of Jesus, shouldn’t we say His name?
Genuine love is not possible without patience. Patience is not easy, it requires our focus be outside ourselves. It requires faith in the Lord, humility, mercy, and self-control. Each trait of love, each aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is wrapped up together, inextricable, and dependent on each other. Just as we as the body of Christ should be inseparable, devoted, and reliant on one another so too is the character of Christ one thing, not nine. The character of Christ is love and it is expressed as joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is not envious, haughty, selfish, or rude.
Longsuffering just as it implies means we will choose patience through our suffering as well as those frequent little irritations of life. Romans 5:1-5 reads,
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
This passage not only tells us why we should be patient in suffering because of the character it produces and how it results in our conformation to the image of Christ known as sanctification, it tells us why we can be patient end even rejoice in suffering. We have been justified, made right with God. We have peace with Him, a relationship. We have the ability to talk with Him anytime because of the grace He gives. We have the hope of His glory. We have God’s love in the person of His Holy Spirit in us. Each one of those reason alone is enough to make us sing with joy.
Jesus was exceptionally patient with the disciples. Though they had witnessed and participated in miracles, though they had moments of profound revelation, they still had trouble with faith. Jesus didn’t turn to John and say, “That Thomas is such a knucklehead! How could he not believe or remember everything that happened?” No, each time someone showed their natural flesh, He compassionately and patiently showed them mercy and kindness. His patience made the arrogance of John into the disciple of love and pillar of the church. Jesus’ patience made the impetuous Simon into Peter the steadfast rock of the early church. His patience made Thomas into a man of immense faith who took the Gospel to India. His patience changed His envious and unbelieving brothers Jude and James into passionate faithful followers who brought countless others to Christianity.
Believer, you have the same capacity for patience as Jesus because you have His Spirit in you. Love others as Jesus loved you. Be patient and see what God will do for them and for you in your faith.