One of the joys of going on vacation for a pastor is to be able to visit another church in person, somewhere in the body of Christ. When we went to BC for a portion of last month, we went to church with our daughter and her husband. It was good to be together with other believers, and not just to be thinking of public health policy or for me to analyze the theology or music or church culture of that congregation. We just went and worshipped with them. It was good.
They were doing a series on the fruit of the Spirit, and the particular week we went, the guest preacher spoke on “kindness.” I’m not sure if I’ve spoken much on that in my thirty years of preaching, nor have I heard much, for the reasons stated above. But it was good to take in what the young preacher had to say about kindness and winning people to Christ through kind words and acts as much as proper theological evangelistic memorized Scriptures and lines. I appreciated it.
Another of the fruit of the Spirit is “patience.” I really shouldn’t be the one who teaches on this Holy Spirit characteristic, because I struggle to be patient. How about you? Do you snap when you hear politicians or others saying things that are not true or make promises they have not kept and will not likely keep in the future? Or perhaps there are little things that irk you: someone asking you to do something that they are unwilling to do themselves, although they could do it easily and better than you? There are lots of things that push buttons for people that then result in less than patient words and actions.
The season we are in with the pandemic and the Presbyterian controversies is upon us and I know we won’t all agree with each other all the time. I take that for granted, even as I am pleased to tell you the Session is quite agreed currently in what they have been doing to chart our course together for the future. All of us need extra patience as we talk to one another, listen to one another, and then find out how much we agree or disagree. It is a process, like all processes, that takes time. It takes longer than many of us would like it to take.
So as we talk and care for one another, let’s remember the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5: 22+ “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…” and James’ exhortation to “tame the tongue,” which is “a restless evil, full of deadly poison…” (James 3: 1-12)
How we talk to each other matters. This was James talking to Christians, not non-believers.
As we continue to chart the course for Grace Church, we continue to seek Jesus first and His kingdom, and recognize all the rest falls into place.