“Please Lord, give me patience…and give it to me now!”
Such is the prayer many of us pray when we desire the appearance of one of the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians, or when we desire to have a character quality in our lives that may be lacking. What we fail to recognize, when we pray such prayer, is that character does not appear and it cannot be taught. Character is cultivates, nurtured, pruned and fostered. That is why I believe that Paul uses the analogy of fruit in Galatians 5, because they grow, they develop from a bud, to a flower, to a pollinated flower and then into a fruit, which takes time to grow, mature and ripen. Anyone who has a fruit tree on their property knows what it is like to watch those flowers in the spring time and think of the juicy fruit that will follow. But that fruit does not appear until late August, September or even October. It can be agonizing to watch the seeming slow growth of something that is so desirable.
It is the same with character. You only have patience by stretching and cultivating the patience you already have. You only have more kindness by exercising the kindness you already possess. You only hold more generosity in your heart by stretching the generosity you already have.
The same applies to obedience. Saul was told by Samuel to wait for 7 says for Samuel to appear, offer sacrifices to God and send the army into battle. But Saul gets impatient, he gets pressured by the fear of his troops and possibly the words of his generals. He fails to wait, and in that one instance he dooms his sons, his family line and his hold on the throne. You may think that is harsh, but the reality is Saul had a responsibility to display proper god-fearing character for Israel, to be their sign-post, pointing them in the direction God would have them go. In this one instance, Saul fails in that responsibility.
Those of us who lead people, including myself, must realize that there is greater responsibility laid on us than on others, James 3 hints at this. Saul fails as king because he does not hold the course, practice obedience and cultivate the character needed.
Whether you lead or not, cultivating character is a responsibility that only the individual is responsible for. I can’t teach it to you, put it in a bottle for you to consume or instill it upon you with the laying on of hands. But I will, and can pray that the Holy Spirit will motivate you to pick up your hoe and your rake and start tending the fields of your heart.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: 1 Samuel 15-17