As we continue our study of Christian character, let us remember that the fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22–23 provides a helpful way to see if we are imitating Christ. Jesus alone perfectly displayed these fruits in His life, and we must strive to do the same if we have trusted in Him. As we seek to follow the example of Christ, we must recognize that we are able to follow Him on account of the Holy Spirit.
Today we will look at the fruits of patience and kindness. When we examine the life of Jesus, we can see quite clearly that He was patient with those around Him. He continued to instruct His disciples even when they did not understand Him and kept men like Peter close to Himself even while knowing that Peter would deny Him. The ultimate expression of this patience came when He endured the suffering of the cross, refusing to call upon the legions of angels that could have come to rescue Him (Matt. 26:47–56).
Christ’s patience was a virtue precisely because He had the power to destroy anything that came against Him. Similarly for us, patience is only a virtue when we are patient with those over whom we have power. Fear makes it easy for us to be patient with those who are stronger than we are. It is much harder to be long-suffering with those weaker than we are or with those under our authority.
We are to be patient with others precisely because God is patient with His people (2 Peter 3:9). Indeed, God is patient with all mankind. At any point He would have the right to destroy any of us for our sin. Yet He does not do this. He is patient as His elect come to faith, and He even pours temporal blessings on those who have not been chosen from the foundation of the world.
The Lord has not only been patient to us, He has been kind. Therefore, we must mimic this kindness in our dealings with other people. We must avoid the temptation to be petty in our dealings with other people. We must overlook minor faults in love, and we will only be able to do this when we are patient, recognizing that not every situation is equally deserving of our correction.
All of us have been tempted at one time or another to jockey for position and to make ourselves look knowledgeable by correcting minor mistakes. For example, we sometimes think that by always correcting minor misstatements and trivial errors we have done a great service to humanity. Yet always being the first to correct every inaccurate word or misstatement actually displays an unkind spirit. Ask the Lord to help you overlook trivial errors in the name of kindness.