Fruit grows from healthy root systems. The fruit of the spirit also grows from the evidence of God’s deep and often invisible working in our lives. The more liberty we allow the Holy Spirit in and with us, the more fruit He produces through us.
“But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit.”
Galatians 5:22-23 TPT
Most of us skim through this list, mentally highlighting those attributes we find most appealing while overlooking other less desirable traits. We say a loud, “Amen!” to love, joy and peace. We affirm kindness, virtue, faith, and gentleness. Yet, patience and self-control become far more difficult to applaud! Nonetheless, God works in us to produce all the fruit of the Spirit.
Yet, I have personally witnessed patience, or more accurately longsuffering, to bring the greatest transformation in both my life and in the lives of others.
The Greek word for patience or longsuffering, makrothymia, is associated with mercy and more particularly patience in respect to people. It exhibits self-restraint before proceeding to action. Longsuffering is the quality of a person who is able to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so.
This fruit of the Spirit gives one both forbearance and fortitude. However, God never intends longsuffering to be a putting up with, or a tolerance of, things and circumstances that are evil or destructive. Longsuffering enables one to withstand very difficult circumstances, while having the spirit-led fortitude to bring godly transformation. Often, those changes first begin within us.
“And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
Hebrews 6:11-12 ESV
Longsuffering partners with the “full assurance of hope” in the driest and hardest places. Through it, we “inherit the promises” of God.
Paul captures this idea in a beautiful prayer for the Colossians.
“…We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”
Colossians 1:9-12 NIV
Nothing prepares us for eternal inheritance as well as forbearance, patience, and longsuffering. It’s called longsuffering because it lasts longer than we hope, takes more than we feel we have to give, and requires more than we are humanly capable of offering.
Longsuffering demands moment-by-moment, day-by-day, year-by-year trusting in Someone bigger and stronger than us. Longsuffering leans into God’s Presence and relies on His Spirit. But longsuffering refines us, producing in us a tenderness and mercy we otherwise would never obtain.
Longsuffering molds in us a reflection of God’s own heart. Because of His forbearance and patience toward us, we inherit the goodness and benefits of His Kingdom in relationship with Him.
“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”
Romans 2:4 NIV
While pressed through the sieve of suffering, God softens and molds us into an increased reflection of Himself. This fruit of the Spirit, longsuffering, begins to ripen and sweeten in our lives, bringing nourishment to others.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Colossians 3:12 NIV
What is your place of longsuffering? Is it robed as a difficult marriage or a sudden loss? Perhaps, it cloaks itself as mental or physical illness? Have you been contending for your faith despite addiction, abuse, abandonment, or rejection? I write this with tears, knowing we all face enduring circumstances that wring us dry of everything but God.
There we find that God is enough. Amazed, we discover the fruit of the Spirit thrives where nothing else could.
I glean today’s prayer for you and me from James 5:7-11
“Father, I come to You in the mighty name of Jesus, interceding on behalf of all those walking through a valley of suffering. I ask that the beautiful fruit of the Spirit — patience — would blossom and grow in each of our lives until the Lord’s coming. Just like a farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, we patiently wait for the autumn and spring rains of Your Spirit to drench us, softening us to the core. Enable us to be patient and to stand firm in whatever circumstances immerse us, because Your coming Lord is near. We quench all grumbling and judgment from our hearts and lips. May we become an example of patience in the face of suffering, being counted as blessed as we persevere. Remind us of others in the faith like the prophets and Job who also suffered. Yet You, Lord, brought about great victory and blessing in their lives. Through them we see vivid and beautiful examples of how compassionate and merciful You are and always will be. O Lord may faith rise. May strength be our portion. May forbearance, patience, and longsuffering produce in us heaven’s fruit for earth’s feast. We look beyond our grey today to the glorious tomorrow You have promised. Your love is enough! Your grace is enough! Mold us, Lord! Create in us the full fruit of Your Presence during this season of suffering.