connecting theology and life in gospel-centred ways to the glory of God and our joy in Him
What sort of things do we need to be patient with in life? Sometimes small things – like the traffic. Sometimes bigger things – like people. Maybe you’re waiting for a job, a spouse, for healing?
How many of us consider patience to be of importance? We know it’s a fruit of the spirit but is it really central? How highly does it factor into our personal desire for growth – we desire to grow in patience?
Patience factors in highly for the apostles and for the early church. Tertullian said it was the highest virtue. Whole treatise was written on it.
One recent book has argued that the early church grew so much not because of their strategies but because of their patience.
We would do well to dwell on the topic of patience.
James begins 5:7 by calling for patience. Consider our topic for the week – why were the prophets a great example of patience?
Patience is not passivity. Whatever patience is it is not doing nothing. In 5:11 Job is given an example of patient suffering. Remember that Job was suffering, he was angry, he spoke, he wrestled, he went to the brink of what he could say to God… he was anything but passive.
We are to get on with the task of trusting God.
Patience is also founded in the character of God.
The Prophets are also held up as an example because they had a job to do, the spoke it, they were faithful to their ministry though they did not see the fruit of that ministry.
Patience is about being steadfast – again Job is held up as an example here in 5:11. In the depth of his suffering his wife told him to curse God and die, yet he refused.
5:8 is a gentle reminder as well that patience is necessary because the coming of the Lord is imminent – we need to wait faithfully for this to come.
One shocking aspect of patience can be found in v9 – the command in the middle of the passage Is not to grumble, it’s pretty serious. Like the wisdom writers of Proverbs two relatively random ideas are stuck together to help us see their link/contrast.
Grumbling comes in the middle of this passage because grumbling is an act of non-patience. Grumbling causes rot and decay in our relationships – and never leads to patience.
If you are caught up in grumbling see the warning that is attached – do not grumble or you will be judged. Not the final judgement, that wouldn’t fit theologically, but the judgement of God’s discipline.
Very rarely will you find a grumbling person who is happy or growing spiritually. It is a bad thing to grumble against other brothers or sisters. It discourages yourself and discourages others.
People like the prophets were not passive, they threw themselves into his work and they did not grumble. (Jeremiah comes close – but his language is more like words of lament: grumbling in the presence of and left at the feet of God). Let us be encouraged by their example as those who are God-followers today to be patient.
[A rather encouraging finish to the conference. A call to wati with patience as we hear God speak to us, live out the beautiful life, and long for the return of the Son!
In other news, Chris Lung is stepping down as chair to focus on other areas of ministry within his church and denomination. Iggy Wong will be stepping to chair the conference. If you see these guys thank them for their service and pray for them!]
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