2Tim. 4:2 “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.”

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In all the different parenting groups, MOPS meetings, and Bible studies that I have attended there is one fruit of the Spirit with which everyone seems to need help….patience.   More than any other fruit, it seems that we really struggle with this one as parents.  I know I have.   I know I do.   There have been times when my husband and I have been extremely consistent in discipline and one of our children still puts the toe across the line five months down the line.  Or, the common phrase, “If I had a dollar for every time I’ve reminded my child to make her bed, I’d be a millionaire.”   And, truth be told, we probably aren’t exaggerating very much when we make this statement.  Well…we would at least have $1,000 more to our name, right??  And, let’s not even get started on the marriage relationship!  🙂   After 18 years of marriage we all struggle with patience with our spouse from time to time.

We need help with patience.   Our children need help with patience.  There is only One who can truly help us.

“THE LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…” Exodus 34:6

Parent Overview for This Week:

DAY ONE:  What is Patience?

Today you will be teaching your children the two Greek words used for patience in the Bible.  One is patience with people and the other is patience in circumstances.  You are going to demonstrate these two forms of patience by either acting out a skit/having your kids act out a scenario/or just talking about different scenarios that require patience with each other.  Then you are going to demonstrate what endurance means by holding up a heavy object for a long period of time.  Make sure you find an object that really is heavy and label it “difficult circumstances”  or “hard times”.

DAY TWO: The Perfect Patience of our God

Have your Bibles ready!  Today you are going to read several verses about the patience of God.  It is through discovering just how patient God is with us that we can be patient with others.   It is so important that your kids come to understand that they are sinners in need of God’s mercy and grace.  This is the key to patience.

DAY THREE: Slow to Anger

Today’s activity can be a real eye opener for your family if you struggle with being easily angered.  You will need pieces of paper labelled with different phrases/words about anger.  You will also need a deep box or hamper with clothes or other paper.  You are going to layer the labelled papers with the clothes/scraps.  Do this before your family gathering.   Then, when you meet, your kids are going to start at the top and dig to the bottom to find the real reasons for anger.  DON’T RUSH THROUGH THIS ONE.  Take time to talk about the heart motives that are at the root of anger in your family.

DAY FOUR: Taming the Tongue

Today you will be going through several passages of scripture and discussing them with your kids.  You will be reminded of just how dangerous and damaging our words can be, and that our words show what is truly in our hearts.  If you have kids that can read, assign them a little reading homework–James Chapter 3 (parents should read it too!)

DAY FIVE: Persevering Patience

Today you will need a fruit or vegetable and its seeds.  It might also be good to have pictures of the process a seed goes through to become a full grown plant with fruit.  You will use this simple illustration, based on a passage of scripture, to teach your kids that it takes time to produce the fruit of patience.  It probably won’t happen overnight.  Kids need to know that they need to persevere in their patience with siblings, parents, friends, and enemies.  This illustration is simple, but powerful!  Read through the whole day before sitting down with your family.

FRUIT FOR THE WEEK:  Tomatoes (because I find myself lacking in patience when growing them!)

DAY ONE:  What is Patience?

Verse for the Day:  Colossians 1:10-12

INTRODUCE:  “Two Kinds of Patience”

  • Read Galatians 5:22
  • The Bible actually uses two different Greek words for patience:  makrothumia and hupomone.
    Have your kids repeat the words after you.

    • Makrothumia is defined:  “to be long suffering…forbearance, self restraint before proceeding to action..the quality of a person who is able to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so.”   Makruthumia is patience toward people.
    • Hupomone is defined:  “to persevere, to remain under…bearing up under…it refers to that quality of character which does not allow one to surrender to circumstances.  Hupomone is patience as it relates to circumstances or things.
  • Ask your kids “Which one do you think is used for the Fruit of the Spirit?”  Why?”
  • If your kids are young and don’t know what self-restraint is, take some time to explain it to them.

ACTIVITY:  Demonstrating the two kinds of patience

PART I:  Before you meet as a family, take some time to come up with a common scenario where your kids struggle with patience.  You can confer with a spouse, or think on your own.  If you have time, you can write out the scenario as a kind of skit that your kids can read and act out.   If you don’t have time, then you can simply talk out the scenario with your spouse/grandparent/or other adult before you meet as a family.  The two of you can act out a scene for your kids.  OR, if you have older kids who are willing, have them come up with a scenario to show the family.  Older kids will love putting together a “show” that demonstrates patience with their siblings.  Let them be creative—they will usually come up with a great scene to show you.

If you don’t have any time for this, then just talk about a possible scenario together as a family.  Let your kids come up with the ideas, though.  Let them brainstorm and talk about situations that try their patience.

PART II:  Get something REALLY heavy that you or your spouse can hold up–or that you can bear the weight of for a few minutes.  Label that item with a sheet of paper entitled:  “difficult circumstances” or “hard times”.  Hold it up over your head and talk about how perseverance means holding up under difficult times and not dropping the weight–even when it gets hard and you feel tired.  Let your kids visually see what it means to “bear up under” something.  Once they get the point, ask your kids to come up with some circumstances that would require this kind of patience. 

Finish with the question:  “Do we sometimes have to show both kinds of patience at the same time?”  Explain to your kids that sometimes we have to be patient with people over a long period of time.  This requires that we don’t take revenge AND we endure and persevere with them no matter how long it takes.   Give an example of how you have done this with your own kids.

PRAY THIS VERSE OVER YOUR CHILDREN INDIVIDUALLY:  (This verse actually uses BOTH words for patience!)

Col. 1:10 And we pray this in order that you (insert family member name) may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
Col. 1:11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience

DAY TWO:  The Perfect Patience of Our God

Verse for the Day:  Psa. 86:15 “But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”

Begin today by saying the verse of the day together and the following verses:

  • Psalm 103:8
  • Psalm 145:8
  • Joel 2:13
  • Exodus 34:6

In each of these verses, the phrase “slow to anger” is the Hebrew word for patience.

  • Ask your kids to give examples of how God was patient with the Israelites
  • If they can’t come up with anything, explain how time and time again, even though the Israelites were unfaithful and turned away from God, He demonstrated patience.

Now read 2 Peter 3:9 and Romans 2:4

  • What is one reason why God is patient with us?
  • What does it mean to repent of something?
  • So what are these verses really saying?  What does it mean for you?

Look at 1 Timothy 1:16

“But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”

THE NLT SAYS IT THIS WAY: “But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.”

We learn three very important things from this passage:

  • Paul acknowledges that he is “the worst of sinners”.  He is no better than anyone else.  THIS IS CRUCIAL TO OUR STUDY ON PATIENCE LATER THIS WEEK!
  • Jesus has UNLIMITED PATIENCE.  Ask your kids What does unlimited patience mean? His patience with his children will never run out.  NEVER RUN OUT.
  • When other people see how God has been patient with us, they too can believe in Him and receive eternal life.  WHEN WE TRULY UNDERSTAND HOW GOD HAS BEEN PATIENT WITH US, THEN WE CAN SHOW HIS UNLIMITED PATIENCE WITH OTHERS AND THEY WILL BE DRAWN TO HIM!
  • Ask your kids to give an example of how they can be patient with someone–and lead that person to Christ.  OR give your own example.

Finish by praying and thanking God for his UNLIMITED patience.  After you thank Him, lead out in a prayer like this,  “God, I just want to confess that just like Paul, I am the worst of sinners.  You have been so patient with me and have shown me grace and mercy.  Help me to see others as you see me and to be patient with them.”  Give your kids a chance to pray too.

DAY THREE:  Slow to Anger

Verse for the Day:  James 1:19-20 “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

  • More often than not, our lack of patience is revealed in our anger.
  • Begin by reading today’s verse and talk about it as a family.
  • Read these:
    • Prov. 14:29 “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.”
      Prov. 15:18 “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.”
    • Are we as a family slow to become angry or quick tempered?

ACTIVITY:  What is at the bottom of my anger?

Have a large box or hamper full of clothes or papers.  Throughout the hamper, you will have sheets of paper with different words:

  • hitting
  • angry words/yelling
  • mean looks
  • frustrated
  • tired
  • anxiety/worry
  • fear
  • selfishness
  • an unforgiving heart (root of bitterness)
  • pride

At the very bottom of the hamper or box place the paper with the word “pride” on it.  Then, place some clothes or other scraps of paper on top.  Next put “selfishness”, then a few more clothes/scraps.  Next add “fear” and “anxiety or worry.”  Layer on more clothes/paper scraps.  Then place “tired” and “frustrated”.  Layer more clothes or papers and then on top place the final three words: hitting, angry words, and mean looks.  You should now have a layered box or hamper with the actions of anger on top and the real reasons for anger closer to the bottom.

This activity will help your family see that the actions of hitting, yelling, angry words, etc. are just the tip of the iceberg.  They are the signs of a deeper problem.  “Lets keep digging to see what lies beneath the surface.”   As they uncover more motivations, talk about these motivations and give examples of why they cause anger.  It is important to note that being tired or frustrated is no excuse for anger and that there is some deeper sin.  Keep going and uncover how worry or fear can result in anger.  Keep digging…and finally uncover the last three strips of paper.

The real reason for most outbursts of anger have to do with selfishness, an unforgiving heart, and pride.  So when you are angry with your sister, one of these three traits (or sometimes all three) are usually present.  When a parent is angry with a child, the parent usually views his/herself as better than or less sinful than the child.  Or parents are driven by fear of what other people think and if a child misbehaves in public, the anger comes out (I’ve been guilty of this one).

Take some time to talk about this.  Have your kids do some heart searching.  Parents, search your hearts as well to determine what it is that is at the bottom of your anger.  Then, confess your sin before God and to your children.  Give them some space to pray a prayer of repentance as well.

Take two days on this one if needed.

DAY FOUR: Taming the Tongue

Verses for the Day:

  • Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
  • Matt. 12:34b  “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks”

Yesterday we talked about what was at the bottom of our anger.  Today we are going to spend a little time with one of the most common ways we show anger or a lack of patience.   When we are not patient, the words tend to flow.  We are looking at what was at the top of our hamper/box yesterday.   As families, we really need to address the issue of our tongue.  So today we are all going to take a look at what damage our tongues can inflict on those around us.

Let’s begin by looking at scripture:

  • Matt. 12:34b  “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks”
    • Ask your kids What does this mean?
  • Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
    • Give an example from your own life of a time you followed this proverb and maybe a time when you didn’t follow it.
  • Prov. 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.
  • Prov. 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
    • Talk about how sharp a sword is (or pull out a kitchen knife and cut some fruit or vegetable to show its sharpness).  Our tongue can do this to someone’s heart.
  • Prov. 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.
    • How do we guard our mouths?
  • Prov. 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.
    • Parents, think of a time when you gave your kids a long lecture about why/ how they missed the mark.  Was sin present?  Did you encourage/build up, or pull down with your words? (Been there done that!)
  • James 1:26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
    • Ouch!  Talk about what this means with your kids.

Finish today by reminding one another that what comes out of our mouth shows what is in our heart!  Just like yesterday, if we are speaking angry words, there is sin in our hearts that we need to confess and turn away from.  Talk about ways you can use a gentle voice and gentle words to make your point.  Harsh words will never end in peace and patience.  Finally, remind your kids that their words to one another and to you can wound a heart.  “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”  JUST ISN’T TRUE–moreover, that statement is unbiblical.  Words can severely wound.  If you need to, ask your children for forgiveness for the times you have used harsh words that wound.  Make a pact to warn each other when harsh/wounding words are being used.

OPTIONAL:  JAMES CHAPTER 3

The third chapter of James is an EXCELLENT passage on the tongue and the damage it can inflict.  If you want to, assign it as reading to your older kids (and yourself), and then talk about it another day this week.

DAY FIVE: Persevering in Patience

Verse of the Day:  Eph. 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

  • Remember on day one how we talked about two kinds of patience?  Can you remember what they are?
  • Look at our verse for the day:
    • How can being humble help us be patient?
    • Remind your kids about the large object you held up on day one.  Say to them: “We need to hold one another up in this way too.  It will get hard at times, and we will get tired of being patient, but we must persevere in our patience and not give up!”
    • Go around the family circle and say to one another, “Don’t give up on __________”
    • “Healing the wounds that our words have caused can take lots of time.  The important thing is to forgive and not give up.”

James 5:7 “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”

ACTIVITY:  The Patience of a Farmer

  • Bring to the table or your family circle any fruit or veggies you have on hand
  • Take the seed(s) out of a piece of fruit or a vegetable
  • Ask your kids,  “Did you know that this fruit came from this little seed?”
  • If you have older kids, have them describe the process from seed to fruit.
  • If you have younger kids, show them pictures of each stage in a plant’s growth and how it produces fruit.
  • Tell them: “This process takes several weeks and sometimes months!”
  • Changing our family habits to produce more fruit of patience will take time too!
  • It won’t usually grow overnight!
  • We have to water the seed of patience, give it the light of the Son (Jesus), and wait for the plant to grow.
  • After the plant grows, we have to watch carefully for weeds or anything that might try to choke out our “patience plant”. 
  • What are some things that could be weeds that slow down or stop our growth as a patient family?
  • Once you see a weed, pull it out! 
  • Keep the soil of our hearts softened and fresh–not hard and packed down.
    • Keep forgiving when someone wrongs you because you have been forgiven much.
    • Keep giving thanks to God for your brother/sister/parent/friend/enemy
    • Pray for each other
  • After a while, we will begin to see the fruit of patience!!
  • Then, there will be lots of patience fruit–not just one.

Finish by praying together and asking God to give you endurance as you seek to have more patience with one another.   Start choosing patience today and watch what God will do!

c9105-_dsc8327Rom. 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

2 Comments on “THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: WEEK FOUR: (PATIENCE)

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