It is not the best written argument in Small Groups – Loving Sinners is Messy but Necessary but it does make me wonder about the fruit of the Spirit called patience (or longsuffering, if you’re a KJV fan) from Galatians. And it begs the question, am I willing to devote myself for the long haul to someone who doesn’t change right away?
I don’t want to be results oriented in my relationships, instead I want to be the gardener that petitions his master not to cut down the unfruitful tree and give it another year. The gardener commits himself to the care of this tree above and beyond just the basic watering and pruning and he goes to the extra time and expense of mulching and fertilization what some would see as a hopeless cause. There is not extra benefit in it for himself but, in the end, his love is motivated in the manner of 1Corithians 13:18, Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
It is that Spirit of hope that should motivate us in our relationships. Imagine if we can say to someone struggling, “I believe in you. No matter what you are going through at this moment, you have a hope and a future that is so much more.” And now imagine that you really mean it! Even if this is the ten thousandth time they have fallen, I really think that God wants us to be that ray or hope for people caught up in habitual sin. Because God does have so much more for them, whoever the “them” is, then the sin they find themselves in.
Sure, there will always be a certain few who would want to take advantage of such a generous spirit. But really, if I am seeking to love as God loves how can I really expect to go through life and not be hurt, let down and even abused. Jesus did not go through life that way and the servant is not greater then his master.