Practicing the fruit of patience in evangelism
Patience is considered a virtue but acts like a leaky bucket.
No matter how hard you try to keep it full, the water is always running out.
My problem is not an empty bucket but trying to find it.
Like wallets, car keys, glasses, and iPhones, patience is a virtue that I keep losing.
I can’t drive my car without keys, and I can’t be a good husband without patience.
I can’t purchase an item without my wallet, and I can’t be a good father without patience.
I can’t seem to do anything without my iPhone, and I struggle to proclaim the gospel without patience.
A Beginning Point
Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Fruit is not able grow unless it remains attached to the branch. If it constantly connects and re-connects to the branch, the fruit will wither and die.
Jesus says in the gospel of John, “Remain in me and I will remain in you.” A believer who remains in Christ will bear good fruit. (John 15)
God created us to be fruit trees. By connecting to the source [Christ] who provides the nourishment necessary to grow fruit, a fruit tree gives evidence of Christ through the production of fruit. Its effortless. It’s by design.
Believers who remain connected to the Vine through constantly remaining in his Word produce patience.
Impatience is evidence of bitter or over-ripe fruit. It is good fruit gone bad.
Repentance acknowledges bad fruit. In his grace and mercy, God picks the bad fruit and sometimes prunes dead branches that no longer bear fruit.
Forgiveness will re-connect or re-graft us to the Vine.
We are forgiven, therefore…
- we can forgive ourselves.
- we can forgive others.
- we can seek and ask for forgiveness from those we have hurt.
By remaining connected to Christ, the fruit of patience begins to blossom. Like a flowering tree in the spring, it smells nice and looks nice, but it’s only the beginning. The blossoms eventually turn into fruit.
Fruit is not meant to be preserved on the tree or it will die.
Fruit is meant to be shared. It’s supposed to be picked to provide nourishment for others.
Evangelism is often referred to as “sharing” the gospel. It is the connotation that we provide something that we possess and give to others. A healthy fruit tree will have an abundance of fruit and will want to share it with others.
Believers who remain in Christ will have an orchard of patience trees. They will also have orchards of delicious joy trees, gentleness trees, and peace trees. They invite all people to pick the fruit to “taste and see” that the Lord is good because his presence is in the fruit.
Applying the fruit of patience in evangelism
Faith is often a long, painful process for those who have yet to trust in Christ. Receiving faith usually involves peeling off many layers of emotional pain and distrust. This takes an investment of time and patience. It requires hard work that our sinful nature does not want to do.
Evangelism and patience become essential partners.
They both can feel awkward at first. Like dribbling a basketball for the first time, if you don’t practice, there is a good chance the ball will bounce of your foot and into the bushes. And that can get frustrating. You are tempted to give up and call it a useless activity.
If you haven’t practiced evangelism, it’s going to feel awkward. After giving a reason for the hope you have in Christ, it may feel like we have dribbled a basketball off your foot and into the bushes. We may be tempted to give up and call it a useless activity because we feel that were so terrible at it.
And that is why patience is important. It is meant to be practiced as an exercise of faith.
Evangelists regularly practice proclaiming the gospel. Over time, they get better. They develop the habit of evangelism and it becomes a part of their daily life. They have understood how important it is to have the fruit of patience with themselves and with others.
Here are six descriptions of how the fruit of patience can be exercised in evangelism:
- The fruit of patience remains in the present. A lack of patience tends to play the “what-if” games that usually conjures up disastrous outcomes. Patience remembers God’s promises that helps keep us in the present rather than past or future failures.
- The fruit of patience gives us grit. It perseveres. By practicing patience, evangelists learn that outward appearances doesn’t often portray a receptive heart. People may appear as a great prospect, but don’t often pan out. Instead, we are often surprised how God works in hearts that may outwardly appear as stony and hard-packed.
- The fruit of patience consistently responds well. It keeps emotions in check when we see a lack of progress despite our best efforts. Patience allows a calm understanding and insight to set realistic expectations that are based on God’s timing and purpose.
- The fruit of patience learns to tolerate the ebbs and flows of life. It expects obstacles and tolerates the quirks of others and their unpredictable behavior.
- The fruit of patience dares to hope. Hope gives us resilience and willingness to hang in there because we trust that God’s Word works despite the perceived lack of results. Patience trusts in the possibility of a glorious outcome and understands that a delay does not necessarily mean denial.
- The fruit of patience desires to be better. To be great at anything you must learn how to be good at something. And that takes time. Evangelism is difficult. If anything is deemed worthwhile, then it usually requires effort to be realized.
I still feel like I lose patience, but I have stopped using this as an excuse not to exercise it. I have come to realize that the fruit of patience is never something that I can generate on my own. It means accepting that I possess fruit of the Spirit because Jesus promises that he lives in me. It is not based on how I feel about the quality of fruit in me.
Faith receives the fruit of patience that is designed to be actively shared with others. It is meant to be practiced. And now is a perfect time to start.
[Need some help? Click here to learn how to provide a gospel witness in thirty seconds or less.]
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