“God, give me patience, but hurry!”
Patience, loyalty, goodness, and truth—four Sundays, four virtues. They all have one thing in common: they are fruits of the Holy Spirit. And this is precisely what the divine services will be about in the month of August: the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
In a divine service recently Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider reminded the congregation about Nelson Mandela, that inspirational figure of recent history, freedom fighter and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He had been imprisoned for 27 years because he had fought for justice and equality: twenty-seven years of darkness, loneliness, and disregard for his human dignity. And then he was released. He became president of a country which after years of conflict finally managed to become one nation. And then Mandela responded to those who demanded revenge and retribution instead of reconciliation and unity: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
Patience is important
The surprising, the unexpected, doing good and setting it against that which is evil—not everybody can do that. Especially when times are hard people often have to fend for themselves and tend to develop a selfish streak. People become impatient when faced with hardship and suffering. They have their minds set on one thing: solving the problem. Patience—one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit—is threatened. As Christians we know: Jesus Christ will not abandon us! He will help us. He knows our thoughts. We need to be patient, and this is something that comes from faith. James spoke about this. He was one of the Apostles who must have known about this. To exercise patience is a very active process. To be patient in trials does not mean to simply sit and wait until they come to an end. Difficult situations demand a great deal in the way of steadfastness and perseverance. To be patient in trials means to be steadfast and consistent and to continue to serve the Lord despite all difficulties. Let us be patient under the cross, be patient when our neighbour crosses us, or when our own imperfections discourage us.
Loyalty makes us strong
Loyalty is another effect of the Holy Spirit. We demonstrate loyalty to God alone through our attitude, not through mere rhetoric. The mature Christian shows by his actions and conduct that he takes responsibility before God and mankind. He takes a firm standpoint and is just and fair, level-headed, compassionate and benevolent, and forward-looking. He does not allow himself to be blown about by every shifting wind, does not sing the same tune as everybody else, and does not allow himself to be influenced by all kinds of different interests. Only if one’s faith is mature will it be able to develop a critical potential with respect to all those things that try to influence it.
Let us not be judges, but brothers
Being kind and compassionate—these are wonderful fruits of the Holy Spirit. Christians take a firm stance against injustice, violence, or unfair judgement. Through the Spirit of God which lives in them they share in His nature, which includes His kindness and compassion. This is the best prerequisite for treating our neighbour with kindness and compassion. Apostle Paul writes in his epistle to the Romans: “Therefore let us not judge one another any more, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Romans 14: 13). After all, humans see only what is before their very eyes.
Finally, it is truth that guides us
The last Sunday service in August will revolve around truth as an effect of the activity of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides into all truth. He warns us against sin, teaches us that it is not enough to merely attend the divine services, but that we also have to fulfil our duties in society and be a source of blessing for others through our prayers and actions. He also admonishes us to model our lives on the gospel of Jesus Christ, thereby serving as an aid in orientation on our path of faith and helping us to always respond to evil with goodness.
Photo: Africa Studio/Fotolia
Divine service, Doctrinal statements