Mercy, Hope and Patience

My aunt had a saying, it was “I want patience and I want it now!” You gotta love it. We live in culture that breeds impatience. In fact, I missed the sermon Sunday morning at HSBC (www.hsbc.org) and guess what I missed… a sermon on patience! No problem, I thought, I’ll be a real 21st century student of the Bible and listen to it on the podcast. I got up on Monday, went to the library (you know, I really was trying), sat down with the Hoover Library wi-fi and guess what, the podcast wasn’t in yet… therefore, even in the point and click world sometimes it just isn’t fast enough (right Ebay bidders)? I was disappointed because surely God wanted me to listen to some wisdom on patience. Or maybe He just wants me to dig a little deeper?

So, I go back to the basics. Paper. Digging through paper, no invisible lines or connections, just the basic pulp stuff that seems to overrun my house. I found what I was looking for which is no small miracle.

I participated in a study on the Fruit of the Spirit and learned that the patience noted in the familiar Galations verse is of the mercy kind. Makrothumia: patience with people, inspired by mercy. The other kind is called hupomone which is biblical perserverance or endurance, which gives us the word hope.

Now, I will attempt to explain from my bible study text why the makrothumia is the fruit of spirit kind of patience. When it comes to prioritizing between circumstances and people you agree that God will choose people, right? That fruit of the spirit kind of maturity comes from dealing with people… not your circumstances. Why? Because God demonstrates this kind of mercy with us on a regular basis. He values my growth and character as a person far above the convenience of my circumstances. Basically, responding with patience to circumstances is far easier than with people. We need to respond with hupomone when some circumstances are trying us; we need makrothumia when someONE is trying us.

The bible is full of hope, which qualifies it as something for which to pray. I actively ask God for endurance and perserverance which I am privileged to tell you He delivers. He’s always on time with an added dose of hope which inspires perserverance.

As for this mercy thing, I’m struggling. But when I think of the kind of mercy he has shown me I am reminded that what He is asking of me is certainly nothing that He hasn’t already asked of Himself. So, I conclude by telling you that if I have ever demonstrated patience with you it is of the supernatural kind. Which is really what the fruit of the spirit is all about… a supernatural ability to be different in the same situation. To God be the glory, great things he hath done!

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