James 1:4 Let perseverance(patience) finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
For the past three weeks we have been looking at the fruit of the Spirit. Today we come to a word that is often translated different ways. In the NIV the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 is the word forbearance. In some translations it is perseverance, but the most common word we use that has the same meaning is patience. In the verse above, James 1:4, the same greek word is used as in Galatians and is often translated patience.
Patience is something that many of us struggle with. It isn’t easy to be patience. One area I struggle with regarding patience is when it comes to God. Yes, I often struggle with being patient with God. I am guessing you do too. Have you ever wondered, God what is your will for my life? What is it you want me to do? Where is it you want me to go? I have had many times of frustration as I wonder this. I hear Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” and I am like, “Ok God you have plans for me and you say they are great plans, so why won’t you tell them to me!”
Too many times I get tired of waiting and I jump into something without really knowing wether that is what God would have me do or not. Too many times I am not patient and think I know best rather than filtering things through God’s word and prayer to determine what he would have me do. The problem is we want to know the endpoint before we start out on the journey.
My wife and I are soon taking our three boys on a trip to Colorado. Two of them have never seen the mountains and we are excited to share God’s beautiful creation with them. We have it all planned out. We even created a notebook that shows the directions we are taking and has facts about the states and towns that are part of our trip. We know where we are going, when we will get there and what we will do when we get there. The problem is as Christians we often think that God should work the same way! We want to cry out “Lord tell me the endpoint, where you want me and what you want me to do. Tell me what is going to happen along the way!” That isn’t how God works. He wants us to be patient and trust Him.
That can lead to another problem for us though. Too many times Christians think because we are supposed to be patient that we should act like patients in a doctors office. We should just sit and wait (patiently) until it is our turn, until God says, “Ok, NOW I am going to tell you what to do!” If you are a Christian today and you are “patiently waiting” I pray that doesn’t mean you are sitting and waiting. If it is, you aren’t doing what the Bible says we should do.
Hebrews 12:1 tells us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” Hmmmm, let us RUN with perseverance (remember same word for patience.) We can be patient but we better be running while we do it! I know what your thinking…wait, my race isn’t marked out…maybe not the whole thing but right now God is trying to direct your next step. It may not be a BIG step like you would want, it may be a small step that seems insignificant but piece enough small steps together and you can cover a mile! RUN! Get busy living the way God wants you to live! Get busy growing closer to God! Get busy reading and studying His word! Get busy sharing the Good News with other people! Just start running while you are being patient and you may look up one day and be shocked by where God has brought you and what he has accomplished along the way!