PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS
Galatians 5:22d-f
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Galatians 5:22d (Holman) . . . patience . . .

As Christians, we represent our Lord and thus have to reflect His patience toward others. Forgiveness is at the heart of all we know about God.

The Father showed forgiveness in sending His Son to die for sinners in rebellion. The Spirit shows forgiveness by applying Christ’s blood to our individual lives, though He has to intercept us while we are fleeing Him.

The Son showed forgiveness in His earthly life, even to the end. Soldiers beat Him, mocked Him, jeered Him, and gambled over His garment, but in His dying hour, He prayed with failing breath, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Christians, follow suit. Do likewise. Show patience.

Avoid revenge. Aristotle said the greatest Greek virtue was refusal to tolerate any insult, readiness to strike back.

God’s people act otherwise. We seek to endure irritable people without becoming irritable.

David could have killed Saul twice, both times with a level of justification, but did not. Our Master could have called twelve legions of angels (Matthew 26:53), but did not.

Allow plenty of time for people to apologize. If they never do, leave the results to God. “Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

One of the hardest times to show patience is when it has to be shown over a long extended period. Time tests patience.

If the Devil cannot beat us by force or sudden temptation, he tries to wear us down over the long haul. Satan knows we are clay vessels. Marathons are hard on us. Patience entails the ability to remain in a forgiving spirit today, tomorrow, next week, next year.

After walking with Jesus a while, Peter knew he was following One whose hallmark was patience, and asked, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21).

Peter may have felt magnanimous in being willing to forgive seven times, but needed a larger heart, “I tell you, not as many as seven, Jesus said, but 70 times seven” (Matthew 18:22). In other words, the spirit of Christian forgiveness knows no boundaries.

We are not at liberty to delineate how far we will go in our being patient with others. The standard is set, predetermined by the actions of God. His example sets the standard for human imitation. Forgiven ones should forgive.

A forgiving spirit is easier to cultivate when we remain mindful of our own shortcomings. The more we focus on our own weaknesses, the less inclined we are to stew over the flaws of others.

The patience we show to others today we may need from others tomorrow. Be not harsh toward the imperfections of others. We have our own faults aplenty.

Many Christians need to be less sensitive in their feelings toward others. We need to take the chip off our shoulder, and be as slow to take offense as to give it.

Grievances are going to be committed, offenses will be given. Each of us will be affronted from time to time. Expect interpersonal conflicts. Jesus regularly met opposition.

Remember, people are creatures of emotion, beset by temper and infirmities. We all have a pride-filled old man within.

Christians, of all people, should be realistic about this matter. Our own Scriptures teach us not to glibly think nothing is wrong with people.

Christian faith is not naive. Our theology should make it easier for us to forgive people because we understand human nature. We realize people are sinners, weak and frail, with a sin nature inside.

We will alas have ample opportunities to practice patience even with fellow believers. Christians are sinners saved by grace, not angels, and will never be perfect in this world.

We will at times be mistreated and spoken harshly to by church members. Believers can be unjust, unfair, inconsiderate, inconsistent, hypocritical, and wrong, but we never have the right to quit being patient.

Galatians 5:22e . . . kindness . . .

One stormy night an elderly couple asked for a room in a small hotel. The clerk said they were filled, as were all the hotels in town. “But I can’t send a fine couple like you out in the rain,” he said. “Would you be willing to sleep in my room?” The couple hesitated, but the clerk insisted.

Next morning, when the man paid his bill, he said, “You’re the kind of man who should be managing the best hotel in the United States. Someday I’ll build you one.”

The clerk later received from the elderly man a letter recalling the stormy night and asking him to come to New York. A round-trip ticket was enclosed. When the clerk arrived his host took him to the corner of 5th Avenue and 34th Street, where stood a magnificent new building. “That,” explained the man, “is the hotel I have built for you to manage.”

The elderly man was William Waldorf Astor. The hotel was the original Waldorf-Astoria. The young clerk, George C. Boldt, became its first manager.

Galatians 5:22f . . . goodness . . .

Goodness includes being sweet and stern, tender and tough. It can coddle, yet also rebuke, correct, and discipline.

Jesus showed tender goodness when the sinful woman anointed His feet, tough goodness when He cleansed the Temple. Goodness lets righteousness be softened by love, and love be strengthened by righteousness.

Goodness never condones or smiles at sin; we neither pretend we see no evil nor downplay its awfulness. Goodness is not spineless, winking at people’s evil behavior.

Sin has to be exposed, but even this is to be done in a tender way. Thus the revealing of sin, and the way it is revealed, can both be said to be good.

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