By T.M. Anderson
"Giving all diligence, add to your faith ... patience."
Probably nothing has given quite so much concern to the sanctified as the matter of patience. Surely nothing is so important to holy living as patience. To add patience to faith is imperatively necessary to all who have entered the Christian race; for in their patience they possess their souls.
Before entering upon a discussion of patience we would first disabuse the mind of the sanctified of a false conception of this grace of patience. The want of a proper conception of the meaning of patience has resulted in many conscientious persons becoming unsettled in their faith. Under searching preaching they are likely to become stricken in conscience about what they judged to be a display of impatience under some trial and go to an altar to seek patience. They may be tempted to discredit their own experience of holiness of heart, and thus get into darkness and doubts. A word about what is not impatience in the sanctified will not be a word amiss.
There are a great many causes in sanctified persons which may result in moods, and emotions, and acts, that may be called impatience, but which are not the results of carnality, and are not impatience in any sense of the word. A careful discriminating between what is carnal and what is merely human, and thus physical and mental, will spare many holy persons much unrest of soul.
An overtaxed nervous system will produce moods and emotions, and even acts, which appear to the unsympathetic and critical to be impatience; yet these things are not caused by any moral lack; they are the results of the physical condition and not the spiritual.
When the body and mind are weary with the multitude of cares and duties which must be met with in everyday life, every muscle and nerve is crying out for rest and relief. In this condition one is not likely to feel an excess of religious joy. Under such circumstances the nagging of small children, the many questions that are asked, the many duties to be performed in the home and elsewhere, only add to the strain which is already at the breaking point. During such a trial of the physical, one may speak abruptly. He may act in haste. He may blindly blunder through a series of duties, and make it seem that everything has gone wrong that day. The day ends in a feeling of weariness in body and mind that is painful in the extreme. One feels that another such a day could never be lived through.
After a rest period this whole thing passes away. At its conclusion one may reflect back over the past events, and in so doing may be made a prey to the devil's accusations, and even be led to doubt the cleansing of the heart. Such may label the whole episode impatience. To do so is to become unsettled in faith, and injure the spiritual life.
The sameness and monotony of life is the most trying of all things on the body and mind. The home, and the business, and even the calling of the ministry, may at times seem like a prison. One may feel like an escape from such would be a bit of heaven on earth. This is weariness in the work, but not weariness of the work. Such a mood has a physical cause rather than a spiritual cause.
During this mood one may break into tears; he may feel like screaming; may desire to run away to some place he knows not where, just any place to escape the acute pain of mind and nerves. Under these conditions many things may be done that would seem to be incompatible with a holy heart. To the blind in mind and spiritual insight these are proof of sin. But to any candid mind the trouble is not moral, but mental and physical. Such a state of things may overtake the best of saints.
A grave danger lies in not properly appreciating persons who have such situations to contend with. It is very easy to misjudge one under these circumstances. Not all sanctified persons have similar home and business conditions with which to contend. It may appear to them that the work of grace in their own hearts has resulted in such restfulness of soul that they never appear ruffled or wanting in patience and poise. They may give the credit to their holiness rather than to the fact that they are not similarly tried.
It is beyond all question that the physical does affect the spiritual in every man. It affects it in many respects. Illness of body and mind can produce times of depression in spirit. Under such trials one can easily exaggerate his own faults and failures. This leads to self-condemnation and self-depreciation. One may believe in such times that the Lord is about to give him up because he has been so unfaithful and impatient under trial. He may even be driven to extreme fear that the unpardonable sin has been committed.
To sum up all the mistakes, blunders, quickness of word, hasty actions, failures, and a multitude of other things we could name, and credit them all to carnality, and label the whole list as impatience, will leave very few among the sanctified.
A careful and sensible examination of the heart proves that not one thing was done from an impure motive. Rather would the sanctified have died than sin against God or man. The whole was not a moral test. It was not a case of decision between right or wrong, sin or holiness, which confronted them. It was merely the physical and mental which they were doing their best to hold in reign, but which showed itself to their sorrow and embarrassment. This will be mastered by self-control, and proper care and rest No crisis at an altar can remedy it. It constitutes one of the duties of the sanctified to see to it that they learn the art of patient control of the physical, and not cast away their confidence if they fail to do so at all times.
The meaning of patience.
The meaning of this grace in the sanctified cannot be overrated. Its worth cannot be overestimated. To heed the admonition to give all diligence to add patience to faith is wisdom indeed.
Patience means endurance. It is to the saint in the race for the crown of life what endurance is to the athlete in a long-distance run. If the goal is reached, and if the runner is crowned with victory, he must not only run well, but he must endure to the end of the race.
Patience also means the ability to stand up under a load. Every child of God has a certain weight of responsibility resting on him. This responsibility is placed there by the Father, and it is proportioned to the strength of each child. Patience is that grace so necessary to the carrying of this load without fainting. Over mountains of difficulties, through valleys of sorrow, across plains of privation and want, each of His children bears his own burden without complaint, never once shirking the responsibility to escape the pain. It requires patience to do this. In such labor there is joy. Pain is pleasure to the patient.
Patience further means endurance of trial or temptation. In the very nature of things a holy people cannot escape trials of their faith, and temptations from the world and Satan. If God prefers to leave them in this world, He must permit them to be tempted. If He uses them in any service, He must expose them to dangers. This being true, He gives them the grace of patient endurance under trial, that He may use them to glorify himself. At the same time He has so willed that their trials shall work out for them an eternal weight of glory, and build their character into sturdy sainthood.
Sanctification results in the grace of patience in the believer. It makes a perfect patience possible because it removes sin from the soul. The carnal mind hinders a running with patience the race that is set before us. It is called "the sin which doth so easily beset us." That is, it is the sin which doth so closely environ us about as a close-fitting garment. Such a garment will impede progress, and must be laid aside.
The carnal mind weakens the believer. It is the source of moral weakness, and with it no one can bear the load of responsibility which God imposes for His glory. But this sin is removed, so that the soul may bear the load imposed in the calling of God.
Thus in the act of sanctification the grace of patience is imparted, and a perfect patience becomes possible. But sanctification does not bring to the soul the results of patience. These can accrue to the sanctified only by letting patience have perfect work. Hence the exhortation to add patience to faith. That is, bring patience into use and great and gracious results will be obtained. Patience will be enlarged and the soul will be enriched, and God will be glorified.
The development of patience, and the use of patience as a grace.
"Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." By this scripture we see the value of letting patience have her perfect work. Such will result in a proving that we are "perfect and entire, wanting nothing." A patient endurance under trial is one of the best proofs of holiness that one can have. Trials will bring out phases of your own self that no preaching can ever reveal. Any lack of wisdom spiritually will surely be revealed under trial. Thus patience under trial can vindicate our profession of holiness. If under the test no unclean desires were felt, no stir of carnal anger, and no want of Christian virtues was evident, then patience has proved that you are "perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Let patience work unhindered by anything on your part by trying to escape the test, or by imposing our own wills against the will of God for us; and the soul will develop into sturdiness and strength that will bear up the crown of life when placed on the head. That crown is not for weaklings; it is for those who have grown strong under trying conditions of life. It is promised to all that love Him, but received only by those who endure temptation. "Blessed is the man that endureth." Those who patiently endure shall not be wanting in those qualities necessary to receive such blessedness in the crowning with life eternal. . Every quality of the sanctified soul will be benefited by letting patience have perfect work. One will be in every grace "perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
"Tribulation worketh patience."
"We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience."
Why should those who have had the love of God shed abroad in their hearts glory in tribulations? They know that tribulation worketh patience, and that patience worketh experience. Without the tribulations they would have had no results of patience, which is experience. Tribulation means a beating, and flailing, and tossing as in the threshing of grain by hand. It required this to separate the wheat from the chaff. Jesus said that in the world we should have tribulations. He made no provision for an escape from them; but He did provide a grace which would enable the soul to turn these to benefit. Patience under tribulation worketh experience, experience in matters that could be known only by passing through them.
God teaches His saints some things by revelation. The Spirit takes the things of Christ and reveals them unto us. There are other things which He teaches them by experience. Nothing can possibly take the place of this method of instruction. But it requires patience on the part of the sanctified to endure the trials and tribulations by which God worketh experience to teach His people. Some of the richest additions to holy lives have been made by experience. During an affliction they learned something of the nature of God and His love and grace that they could have known in no other way. Happy and wise are those saints who, in the midst of trials and distresses, look to the Lord for the lesson He is wanting to teach them.
Nothing can instruct a holy people in the art of effective praying like an experience that tries them sorely. During a patient endurance of tribulations and distresses they turn to God in prayer. Such great things result from it that they prove how rich is the possibility of intercession. They waited patiently on the Lord, and He gave them the desire of their hearts. The same may be said of the development of faith. It becomes greater in its achievements because it advances from glory to glory with the development of a patient endurance that worketh experience.
Patience in the sanctified takes the form of a passive yieldedness to the known will of God, and a patient waiting for all further unfolding of His will in their behalf.
"It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." This means that in the work of holiness the believer has become willing to do all he knows to be His good pleasure, and has willed in advance to do all that God shall ever reveal as His good pleasure. If it is His good pleasure for His child to suffer affliction of body, then such a one will acquiesce without murmuring, and patiently bear the affliction.
It has proved in many instances that an affliction patiently endured has enriched the life of the afflicted, and contributed untold wealth to the whole body of believers. Some of the rarest saints, whose ministry of song and hymn writing has blessed the world, were afflicted with blindness. God's ways may be inscrutable to the wicked, but to His saints the path in which He leads them is as a shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day. In His own good time will He reveal the course each of His saints should take. They will find themselves in His will at all times, no matter what their estate may be, if they will wait patiently on Him to teach them the lessons they should learn.
Patience in well-doing.
"Who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life." In view of the judgment of God we have need of adding patience to our faith. In that day an impartial God shall render unto all the reward for their deeds. Eternal life will be the reward of them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for immortal glory and honor.
Be not "weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." He who hath sown to the Spirit shall reap life everlasting if he faint not, but await the harvest-time to come.
No little concern is caused to the sanctified at times because they see so little fruit of their labors. The enemy often tempts them to discredit their faith because they can show so few results. A patient continuance in well-doing, even if they never see the desired returns, must be the determination of all holy persons. The very kind of service which they are performing may not be productive of immediate results. It may be years after death has claimed a faithful witness that the sowings of a lifetime may be harvested. The greatest services are not always performed by those who get the most credit in life. An evangelist may get all the credit for precipitating a great revival, while those who prayed weeks and years for such a divine visitation may be completely overlooked. Almost anyone can shake a tree of ripe fruit and gather a rich harvest, but it took months and years of hard and patient labor to bring the tree to the period of fruitfulness. Some reap where they have bestowed very little labor. Others labor long and patiently and never live to see the harvest. To be patient in this respect is true holiness.
Let each magnify his office. Let none discredit the calling. And let all continue faithfully in well-doing until a just Lord shall call them into His presence to render an account of their deeds. He shall render eternal life to all who have patiently continued in the doing of the work He set them to do. Be content with the calling He has honored you with. It is as great as you can be responsible for before the judgment.
Patience in waiting for the Lord.
"The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ."
The Scriptures abound in exhortations to the sanctified to be patient unto the coming of the Lord. In their patience they possess their souls. Patience in this instance means that watchfulness so necessary to maintain a holy life. It implies all that is needful for an immediate translation at the coming of the Lord.
A patient waiting for the Lord's coming involves the sanctified in a diligent watchfulness in prayer, a faithfulness in service, and an unblamable life. "Be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless."
Our Lord gave the parable of the ten virgins to enforce this very fact. These persons are representatives of the company of those who are expecting the coming of the Lord. They have everything in common to a certain point. Five of them were foolish in that they made no provision against the delay of the bridegroom. If he had come earlier they would have been ready. They were not rejected because they had made no preparation. They were shut out because they did not endure unto his coming. The Holy Spirit supplies that oil of endurance that will keep the light burning as one waits for His return. But let all give careful heed to their lives and acts, that they keep the Spirit, that He be not grieved by their neglects and carelessness. A patient waiting for the Lord means to keep under the control of the Spirit, lest the light go out. There will be moments when it is needed sorely.
This day in the world's history is different from any other period of time. There was never a time when the moral standards of the world were so low. Sin is condoned today that was outlawed a few years ago. There is little or no conscience in any matter of divine law in this age.
Iniquity doth abound. Jesus said, because iniquity should abound, the love of many would wax cold. He further charged His people to watch lest their hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and that day come upon them unawares. "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."
Another appalling fact is the low ebb of spiritual life in the church world of the day. There is a departing from the faith the like of which has never been known before. The religious world still accords to Jesus the place of a great teacher. His ethical teachings are acknowledged to be without an equal among all founders of religions. But when it comes to the essential things, things necessary to save men from sin, these are denied and repudiated openly by many leaders in the church world. Many have no faith in the Blood as a necessity to their salvation. Holiness as an experience of heart and life is utterly discredited.
Those who would hold to these things so sacred to their hearts have never had such a battle in the history of the world to keep their faith in the midst of such a falling away. It requires a patience born of desperation to keep clean at any cost until He comes with the reward and crown.
It is very easy to follow the multitudes in a popular religion of works. It is easy to join in the social activities and frivolities of the apostate church. There is a religion of the age that is made easy for all. It has no persecution attached. It demands no self-crucifixion. One can have it and hold to the world's fashions and pleasures. Beware of its snare. It is death to all who are taken in its error.
Those who patiently wait for His coming are as pilgrims and strangers in the earth. Here they have no continuing city; they seek one to come. Their conversation is in heaven, from whence they look for the Lord. The lowest level of their living is as high as the requirements of the judgment. The bottom of their life is up to the top of their highest light. They do not sleep as do others. They watch and are sober. They are not children of the night, nor of the darkness, but of the day; children of light, who have put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for an helmet the hope of salvation. God has not appointed them to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
"Give all diligence to supply your faith with patience. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry."
Let all those who love His appearing be zealous to maintain good works. Let them deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts; all live soberly and godly in this present world, "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."