Fruit #4: Patience

by Carolyn Hope

Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can break bones. (Proverbs 25:15)

Patience is often underrated, especially among a people or culture that is always hustling and bustling. We live in a world where opportunities can come and go in a flash, and in some ways, the advancement in technology has fostered an impatient atmosphere. We microwave meals, watch TV instantly on our computers, and drive 70 miles per hour on highways.

In such modern realities, patience can be seen as trivial, or even as weakness. “If you wait too long, you’ll miss your chance,” society whispers. “Act quickly before it’s too late!” The reality is that patience is extremely important, and patience is not weakness. In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he wrote, “We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need” (1:11). It actually takes strength and the power of God to be patient!

Your patience is powerful. Patience has the ability to persuade people who normally wouldn’t budge. You can live patiently, for Holy Spirit living within you is the most patient one of all. When you follow Him, you will produce patience. Patience is not a feeling, but a conscientious decision. You may feel like screaming on the inside, but you can still choose to act in patience. Keep seeking Jesus, and ask Him to help you. He’ll teach you.

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Fruit #2: Joy

by Carolyn Hope

Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength! (Nehemiah 8:10)

Nehemiah was a cupbearer for King Artaxerxes during the Babylonian captivity of the Israelites. Some of the Jews had been allowed to return to Jerusalem, but the city was in disarray and broken down. The walls and gates were diminished to rubble. When Nehemiah received reports of the city’s deteriorated state, he wept at the news. He spent much time mourning and praying to God for Jerusalem. Then he developed a plan, and with the king’s permission and a determined heart, he set out to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. In just 52 days, the walls and gates were restored.

Nehemiah shares the secret to his success when he told the Israelites in Jerusalem, “the joy of the Lord is your strength!” We frequently quote this phrase to loved ones who are down or weary. In order to truly understand this sentence, however, we must first realize the context of what Nehemiah went through. When he heard of Jerusalem’s condition, he was not ‘joyful’; rather, his heart was broken, and he cried for his city. Then, Nehemiah rose up, and throughout the rest of the story, he walked with confidence and encouragement. What caused the transformation? From his declaration mentioned above, it can only be one thing: a joy that comes from the Lord Himself.

Joy is not the same as happiness. Read the book of Nehemiah, and you’ll see that the journey to rebuilding Jerusalem wasn’t an easy or pleasant one. There were many opportunities for Nehemiah to experience all sorts of negative emotions; and most likely, he did. He never let his circumstances or feelings deter him from his work. That is what joy is. It’s the power to overcome the negative emotions you experience and to press forward to do what you know God has called you to do. It is the choice to keep going as if everything is as it should be, so that everything will be what it needs to be. It’s the refusal to be hindered by what other people say, what you think, or how you feel.

Whether or not you feel ‘happy’ is not what determines your joy. You must choose joy, regardless of how you feel. Your joy isn’t based in emotions or circumstances, but in the love of your Father, a love that is always steady. You can have joy in every season, test, or trial, because Jesus is with you, and He will give you His joy.

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