I wish they would hurry up with our food,” Josh grumbled. It sounded like my kind of complaint. However, on this occasion, I decided to push him on it.
Patting him on the shoulder, I urged, “Patience, my man, patience. Patience is a virtue.”
“Not after my day at work,” he snapped back. “I don’t have any patience.”
I pushed on. “Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. If Jesus is in you as He says He is, then patience is in you. You just have to let Him be Him through you.” I’m not sure he was in the mood to go along with that reasoning at the moment. Hunger can make you crazy. I changed the subject, but later began to think more seriously about our little chitchat.
The fruit of the Spirit includes more than patience. Paul, the apostle, wrote in Galatians 5:22-23, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
We know that a tree can only bear fruit according to its own nature. James wrote, “Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?” James 3:12. When Jesus cautioned His followers to beware of false prophets, He said, “You will know them by their fruit. Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” Matthew 7:15-19. Jesus is the Tree of Life and He bears the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, et al. He determines the kind of fruit we bear because He is in us and we are in Him. John 14:20.
Before Christ came into us we were of the old man of flesh and sin nature. Paul contrasted the fruit of the Spirit with what he called the works (deeds) of the flesh—that old man of sin nature. They are such things as, “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries.” Galatians 5:19-21.
By this, then, we understand that the fruit of the Spirit does not and cannot come out of our old fallen man nature of flesh and sin. Even good works are not all life producing. Spirit-fruit cannot be forced to happen. Nothing in the tree of our old man nature can produce this kind of God-like fruit. We need to be of a different tree. That new nature tree is Jesus, the Tree of Life.
Therefore, we understand that the only way we can produce any of the fruit of the Sprit is for Jesus to live in us and work His life out from within us. That includes patience. He does this through the power life of His Holy Spirit in us. We call it the exchanged life.
Now then, the next time we think we are short on patience, or any of the fruit of the Spirit for that matter, we need to think again. If, indeed, Christ is in us and we are in Him as He says we are, then we have the potential to bear the fruit of the Spirit. Paul concluded, “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
We cannot crucify the flesh in our own strength, but in the power of the Lord’s resurrection life within us.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:24-25. If we walk in the Spirit, we will bear the fruit of the Spirit for the good of all.