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Sabbath School Lessons on Fruit of the Spirit
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 5: The Fruit of the Spirit is Patience *
Introduction: Galatians 5:22 tells us that another fruit of the
Spirit is patience. I have lots of things to do and I do not like to
waste my time unless the goal of my activity is to relax and "waste"
time. How about you? Do you see pointless wasting of your time as a
gift from God? What if I told you that "longsuffering" is another
way to translate this word patience. Do you want to be suffering?
While I was doing more research on what the Bible really meant by
"patience," what I found were texts on endurance. The New Bible
Dictionary defines patience as "restraint in the face of opposition
or oppression." That sounds like a cross between suffering and
endurance, rather than wasting time. Let's plunge into our study of
the Bible and learn more about God has in mind with the gift of
- God and Patience
- Read Exodus 34:5-7. Is being "slow to anger" a form of
patience? (The Interlinear Bible reveals that the Hebrew
words mean "longsuffering." Thus, what God is saying
about Himself is very much like the "patience" described
as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22.)
- Something very important is being said in Exodus
34:6. Notice that when God describes Himself, "slow
to anger" is the third term He uses, and He places
it before love. Is being slow to anger more
important than love?
- As you consider the context, in what way is God slow
to anger? In what way is He patient? (All of these
descriptions seem to be in the context of dealing
with humans about our sin problem. Thus, slow to
anger means slow to anger about our sins.)
- What do you see as a benefit in that? (If we
are talking about my sins (as opposed to
yours), then I appreciate God not disciplining
me (or destroying me) right away. Giving me a
break is something I greatly appreciate.)
- Frankly, I was less concerned about God giving you a
break about your sins. If God shows patience towards
your sins, am I also required to show patience
towards your sins?
- Should I consider it a virtue to be
longsuffering (suffer long!)because of your
sins towards me?
- We all understand why we want God to show some
patience with us when we sin. But, why should He?
What point is served by waiting? (If we look at our
Exodus text, what follows from sin is punishment.
Therefore, it seems that God is patient in the hope
that we will turn from our sins and escape
- Read Joel 2:13 and 2 Peter 3:8-9. Why do Joel and
Peter suggest that we should turn from our sins?
(The idea is that God is not waiting to "chop our
head off." He is not rubbing His hands together with
glee waiting to destroy us. Quite the opposite, God
is giving us time to turn to Him by repenting and
escaping punishment. God is taking His time in the
hope you will turn to him.)
- You and Patience
- God is patient with us. Great! So, what reason do we have
to be patient with others? (Read Matthew 18:32-33. If you
do not know this story, read Matthew 18:23-35. On a very
basic level, if God shows patience to us to allow us to
turn from our sins, then we have an obligation to give
that same opportunity to others.)
- Think about this for a minute. What kinds of sins
has God forgiven you? Compare your sins with the
sins of those who test your patience?
- Does this requirement apply to parents in dealing
with their children? With children in dealing with
- Read Romans 15:5. What reason does this text give us for
being patient (showing endurance) with our fellow
Christians? (Unity. Being longsuffering helps to promote
- Have you ever met someone who is determined to point
out the sins of others?
- How do you like it when fellow church members point
out your sins? (The exercise of judgment is called
for, but the clear direction is that our God shows
patience (endurance) towards us and we need to show
that same patience to our fellow church members. An
attitude of patience promotes unity in the church.)
- Read Ephesians 4:1-3. Paul reinforces what we just
learned: that our goal of unity in the church is promoted
by being patient and "bearing with one another in love."
However, Paul adds a new idea. He writes of being humble
and gentle. What do humility and gentleness have to do
- How many Christians "correct" another member of the
church because of pride and a lack of gentleness?
- Think about the last time when you heard a member
(as opposed to the pastor or a duly elected church
official) rebuke another member? Was it over a
disputable issue on which the "rebuker" (due to
pride) was sure he or she was right?
- Read Romans 14:1-4. What opportunities do we find here
for condemning another church member? (First, the
vegetarian (the one who wanted to avoid eating meat
offered to pagan idols) should not condemn those who do
not see the issue in the same way. Second, those who
think the vegetarians are being silly, should not condemn
- What?! No standards? What about upholding the
standards? (Notice the topic is "disputable
matters." However, be sure that your pride has not
transformed a disputable matter into a standard.)
- How does Paul suggest that we should handle these
kinds of debates about disputable issues? (Read
Romans 14:22-23. We should keep these things to
ourselves. We should show patience, instead
condemnation, towards those who do not believe as we
do. At the same time, if we believe something is
sin, we need to follow our conscience.)
- Character and Patience
- Read James 1:2-4. The New International Version
translates the last word of verse 3 as "perseverance."
Other translations read "patience," "steadfastness" or
"endurance." This is another aspect of patience. As you
look at the context, what kind of patience is described?
(The ability to look forward in faith when we are going
- James tells us that this makes our faith "mature and
complete." How is this the product of patience?
(When we go through something unpleasant, if we
trust God, and He sees us through it, this gives us
confidence when the next temptation or trial comes.
We look back on what God has done in the past and we
have confidence that He will be there to help again.
This kind of faith gives us a mature attitude.)
- Let's look at how we should apply these spiritual lessons
to the realities of your life. When you are driving a car
are you patient? Should you be? Or, are these other
drivers just wasting your time and no spiritual issues
- What are the reasons why other drivers are holding
you up? (A driver who just stays in the passing
lane, not passing, but holding me up, is either
selfish, inconsiderate or ignorant of the rules of
the road. This sounds a lot like sin. Indeed I'm
sure it must be sin!)
- What kind of attitude did we decide that we
should have towards other sinners? (Since God
is patient with us in dealing with our sins, we
should be patient with others.)
- What about your job? Are you impatient for promotion? Do
you feel that you should have been given more
responsibility, more money and more authority?
- Look again at James 1:3-4. Does this text provide
any helpful advice about promotion? (It suggests
that perhaps we are not ready for promotion right
now, and that patience in our present position will
improve our skills and help us to be mature and
- What about patience while waiting in line? Is waiting in
line a pure waste of time? (Here is a secret so that you
will never have to waste time waiting in line again - use
the time to pray and contemplate God's will for your
life. I suspect that most people do not spend enough time
in prayer. You can trade this wasted and otherwise
frustrating time into productive time with God.)
- What about patience in waiting for Jesus to return and
take us to heaven? (Read Matthew 24:45-46. Jesus tells us
that we should fill the time waiting for Him by doing the
jobs He has given us. If we focus on the task, instead of
the wait, it will not seem like we are waiting.)
- Friend, do you feel impatient? Why not resolve to do
this: fill your waiting time with productive work. Be
generous when it comes to the slowness of others because
God has been generous to you in your slowness in doing
His will. Will you decide today to seek the help of the
Holy Spirit to be more patient?
- Next week: The Fruit of the Spirit is Kindnesss.
* Copr. 2010, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.