Lately, I have been considering the specific words God chose to use in particular areas of the Bible. I believe, not only the meaning of the scripture, but, the particular words the Holy Spirit chose are very important. What has been sticking out most recently are the scriptures referring to sowing and reaping. I’d say that these agricultural references are among the most abundant analogies found in the Bible. I don’t believe that they are just for the time the Bible was written. I don’t think that God would have chosen “tweet and receive a retweet in due season” if the Bible were written today. The use of the farmer’s terms are deliberate.
You’ve heard it before, we live in an “I-want-it-now” society. Instant gratification. Don’t believe me? When was the last time you waited in a line at McDonald’s and got angry at how long you had to wait? Maybe you even screamed at the woman (or man) at the window. Now, think… how long did you really wait for FOOD? Two minutes? My wife bought me a Japanese noodle meal in a box. I saw it, wanted it, began to make it. I screamed out to her in frustration about how time-consuming the meal was. In retrospect, I feel like an idiot. The box said “ready in two minutes” and it was. But, the steps were different than your typical asian bowl soup (it was much better than typical too!). You didn’t just pour water in and microwave. First, you poured hot water in and let the noodles soak for a minute. Then, you had to drain the hot water, and fill it with cold water. THEN, you microwaved it. The horror, right?
My wife replied, “most food takes more than 30 seconds to prepare, babe.”
I am as guilty as anyone of being impatient in our society. But, God teaches the idea of sowing and reaping. The typical barley harvest is planted around August and not reaped until April the next year. That’s 8 months! Do you realize that most Christians give up on on prayers that don’t happen in 8 minutes? Seriously, when was the last time you continually prayed for something? Are you praying about it as much as you’re talking about it? or thinking about it? We often confuse thought, worry or fear, for prayer.
We want our prayers to be answered the way everything else in our life comes. We want a iPhone app? we download it in 30 seconds. We want a song? We stream instantly. Want to watch a movie? Netflix has them as quick as you can click. If Netflix doesn’t have it, we get upset that we have to open another application to find it. I remember when downloading an album could take the entire day. I didn’t really complain, that was amazing! I can have a whole CD downloaded in 18 hours? Great! Now, 18 minutes is way too long.
If it’s worth having, it’s worth waiting for. Nothing of value ever comes cheap or easy.
Additionally, I began to think about how our fast-paced society has helped us cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit. Notice, again– agricultural terms. Fruit takes time and effort to grow into something delicious. One by one, let’s examine the Fruit found in Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Note: I will be using “absolute” terms such as “never, always, etc.” I know this doesn’t apply to everyone. But, if you are offended, God can deliver you from that too… =)
LOVE: We’ve already said that we get angry and hateful toward people when we don’t get what we want when we want it. The cashier at the fast food restaurant is just one quick example. How about when you have to wait on hold for 15 minutes to talk to a troubleshooting technician who lives hundreds of miles away. Do you realize that in Jesus’ time it would have taken months for you to have spoken with that expert? You’d have to hop on a donkey or a camel and ride over there! But, as soon as they pick up your response is usually the same: “I know this isn’t your fault, and I’m trying to keep my composure. You’re the (fill in the number) person I have spoken to and I’ve been on the phone for 20 minutes!” (and usually, if you’ve really been on 20 minutes, you tell them something like “over an hour”). We don’t love the person on the other end of that call. Most likely, there’s some form of hate going on.
JOY: Our society has trouble even understanding what Joy is. It isn’t happiness. Happiness is based on circumstances. Joy is everlasting, in spite of what we are going through. However, I know that when my iPhone accidentally wipes all my information and I have to start over, I don’t have much Joy. How could it be? I have to go on my computer and re-upload my contacts to my phone!? That will take minutes!!
PEACE: Here’s a big one. My wife commented about how much more stressful life is now that we have a constant stream of information coming into our hands and eyes at all times. I wanted to argue, but she is right. Life would be far less stressful if I didn’t have texting. Why? Because, if someone doesn’t answer my text immediately, I think something is wrong. Either they are mad at me, or they are dead. Either way, I’m stressed! – chances are, they are in the shower.
PATIENCE: Must I even say anything regarding patience?
KINDNESS: See LOVE.
GOODNESS: None of us are good outside of the righteousness of Christ. If we are not in line with His word, goodness will never come. In this area, instant gratification makes us mean, impatient, angry and loveless… none of these are good.
FAITHFULNESS: The idea that everything should happen instantly has hurt our faithfulness more than we might realize. Jesus Himself spent hours in prayer to the Father, daily. We on the other hand, say quick prayers over the sick in the hospital room because we have to get back to our busy day. We aren’t faithful to continue praying. We aren’t faithful even to each other.
GENTLENESS: Again, we are discussing something similar to being loving, kind and good. If we are angry about our food taking too long at the local restaurant, chances are we aren’t going to be very gentle toward the server. The typical woman in Bible times would have spent hours upon hours a day preparing food for her family. There were no ice boxes or refrigerators – sure some things could be preserved by salt, but most items needed to be gathered, killed and prepared three times a day. And we complain about 25 minutes at Chili’s.
SELF-CONTROL: I know one thing, I have very little self-control when it comes to technology. I want the newest, best, now. I can hardly sit through a staff meeting without pulling out my phone to check Facebook or a text message. After all, I wouldn’t want someone to think I was mad at them if I didn’t reply immediately.