But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience… (Gal 5:22)
People often jokingly say that they need to have more patience. The truth is, we all need to have more patience; yet rarely are we willing to allow God to work in our lives in such a way as to develop it. We think that God is going to one day supernaturally give us more patience, yet that is not how it works. God does not dish out patience to people who are living to please themselves. Patience is the result of the Holy Spirit controlling our life.
There are two ways that patience can be experienced in a believer’s life. First of all, there is patience that enables us to endure. The apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians, “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.” (Ephesians 3:16) Through the bearing of His fruit in our lives, the Holy Spirit can enable us to endure difficulty.
There is also another way the Spirit can bear the fruit of patience in our lives. The same Spirit that can enable us to endure difficult problems, can also enable us to endure difficult people. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3) “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:12-13)
There is something significant in our study of the Fruit of the Spirit that we have not yet considered. Notice that it is ‘fruit’ (singular) and not ‘fruits’ (plural). “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives…” Many believe that by Paul’s usage of a singular noun, he was emphasizing that we cannot pick and choose which part of the fruit we want to demonstrate. In other words, you can’t become a more patient person without becoming a more loving person. Perhaps the main reason we are not more patient with some people is because we do not love them. Just this morning I was studying 1 Corinthians 13 and this is what I read. “Love is patient and kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
I find it interesting that in his description of the Spirit’s fruit, Paul does not place patience before love, but rather, love before patience. Perhaps he is trying to teach us that we cannot experience more patience until we first experience more love. If that is the case, then perhaps what we should be asking for is love instead of patience. After all, it’s not nearly as hard to be patient with those we really love.