FacebookTwitterRSS FeedPinterest

By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC 10.30am service, r004-03-07

Text: 2 Peter 1:6

We live in an age of instant food, instant coffee or tea, instant delivery, instant photos, and instant communication. Now there are a whole range of machines that can automate and speed up many tasks that used to take a long time, e.g. computers, ATMs, PDAs, ERP units for vehicles, digital cameras, mobile phones, fax machines, e-commerce and e-mail. Many things can now be done at lightning speed - e.g. temperature taking using thermoscan machines, e-filing of income tax returns, teleconferenc)ng to negotiate business deals globally, and even time-consuming research work on the Internet using broadband access.

But this trend also has its negative points. It tends to breed some unrealistic expectations. Most people have come to expect things to be done quickly and instantly. People often want to see the quickest results in the shortest time - quick profits, quick returns, quick success and quick promotion to the top of the corporate ladder. They find it difficult to wait for things that take a longer time to accomplish, and they become impatient when they can't get immediate results. They expect to find quick fixes and solutions to all their problems, instant cures for all their illnesses, and instant deliverance from all their trials and afflictions. 
If we keep on living with this 'instant' kind of mentality, we might become impatient quite easily. When we face a difficult problem and pray about it, we expect God to answer immediately, and we murmur and complain if He does not. When we deal with our spiritual growth, we want spiritual maturity and holiness to come instantly, and this leads some to hop from one church to another, seeking after some new secret formula or practice that seems to offer this, like being slain in the Spirit, or speaking in tongues, instead of submitting themselves to the long process of reading God's Word, praying and striving to walk in the Spirit everyday. Some who want their churches to grow quickly employ market-driven methods th!t are designed to attract crowds of people to swell the church membership, methods that minimise the mention of sin and repentance, make people feel good about themselves.

Dearly beloved, we cannot be so unrealistic in our expectations: There are things in life that simply cannot be done so fast. 

Some of the most important works of God take time to accomplish, and they are finally accomplished in His own good time. If we cannot see instant results, or immediate deliverance, we must not be discouraged, or become impatient, or question God, or change our policy, our path or direction. We must have the patience to wait, and to persevere on, right till the very end, and then we will get to see the wonderful results that patience brings.

But if we become impatient, we may just end up displeasing the Lord and falling into terrible sins. Take Abraham for example. God had promised to give him a son. He waited very patiently for about 10 years but still had no son. At this point Sarah, his wife became impatient and urged him to have a son through her maid, Hagar. He agreed, and the results were disastrous (Genesis 16; 21:9-11)! God did not speak to Abraham for 15 years, and when Isaac was born, Ishmael, Hagar's son, became his rival and was eventually sent away.

Another example of the awful price of impatience is seen in the nation of Israel during their journey to the Promised Land (Numbers 21:4-6). They began their journey well, experiencing God's miraculous deliverance at the Red Sea, and God's wonderful provision of manna and of water from the rock, and receiving God's Law at Mount Sinai through Moses. But according to the book of Numbers, after they left Mount Sinai, and had to keep up the process of travelling in the wilderness, marching, and setting up camp from place to place,kweek after week and month after month, they became weary and discouraged. As a result of this many of them lost their patience and rebelled against God. On one of these occasions, when the complaining reached a very high level, God showed His displeasure by sending poisonous serpents into their midst. They were sorely chastised for their impatience!

Another sad account of impatience is told in the story of King Saul. According to 1 Samuel 13:7-13, Saul had been instructed by God's servant, Samuel, to wait patiently until he arrived, before they commenced making sacrifice to God. The occasion for this sacrifice was to ask God to help Israel in their impending battle with the Philistines. But Saul waited and waited for a long time and Samuel had not yet come. And as he saw the Philistine camp increasing and his own men becoming discouraged and beginning to leave, he becam% very impatient and took matters into his own hands. As he offered the sacrifice Samuel arrived and rebuked him for his disobedience. From then onward Saul was rejected by God and David was raised up to replace him.

Seeing what a great price we might have to pay for being impatient, let us then strive to add this important quality called patience to our lives. In our text of 2 Peter 1:5-7 we see that patience is the fourth quality to be added to ourselves to grow inkthe image of Christ. The original Greek word for 'patience' that is used here is hupomone which literally means 'remaining under.' We need to note that this word is not the word that is used in the Bible to mean patience with people or the ability to keep one's temper, to bear with people who tend to make a person angry or lose his temper. That is a different kind of patience we need, and perhaps we will look into that in another sermon.

The patience that we want to consider this morning has to do wit( the word hupomone in our text, and this means steadfastness, endurance, and perseverance. This word and its cognates are applied in three different ways in the Bible: The first way it is used is for the patience one needs to cope with difficult trials or afflictions in life until they come to an end. One Bible passage that speaks of this is James 5:10-11 'Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure (verb form of hupomone). Ye have heard of the patience (hupomone) of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.' (see also 2 Thessalonians 1:4 'So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure')

Another way in which this word is used in the Bible, is for the patience one needs in maintaining a course of action (e.g. maintaining good works, not receiving bribes, not compromising one's stand or convictions under pressure, doing regular QT, conducting family worship), This can be seen in Romans 2:7 'To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:'

A third way in which this word is used is for the patience one needs to wait for the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. One example of this is 2 Thessalonians 3:5 'And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.'

And so, to summarise all of this, the word 'patience' that is found in our text has these three applications: the patient enduring of afflictions, the patient maintaining of a course of action, and the patient waiting for the return of Christ. I am sure you will agree that we need all three applications of patience in our lives. 

We all know that the Christian life is not a bed of roses. We are very often beset with trials that make us anxious and downhearted, wishing to be delivered from them as soon as possible. Thus we need patience in enduring afflictions. At the same time, the Lord expects us to keep on doing His will, to live as obedient children, maintaining a good testimony for Him before a sinful world, and we begin to feel tired of keeping up the effort, day after day. Thus we need patience in maintaining a course of action. And at the same time, we are all longing earnestly for the blessed day when Christ will come to take us home to be with Him in glory and to bring an end to all the trouble and strife in this world. Sometimes we become weary and worn with waiting, and say, 'O Lord, how long? How long more do we have to wait for Thy return?'

What we need for all these is: Patience. So we really should do all we can to cultivate this quality of patience, which is the ability to endure, to persevere, and remain firm and steadfast to the end. But how do we do this? I would like to suggest a few steps: Firstly, we must trust in the unlimited power of God to keep us. According to 1 Peter 1:5 as we endure we 'are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.' The Lord is in full control of our circumstances and He knows how much we can take. And if He wants us to keep up on a course of action that is difficult to maintain, we can be sure that His grace will be sufficient for us.

Secondly, we must believe that God has a good purpose for every trial He allows us to experience in life. We may not fully understand His purpose at present, but the apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:7 'That the trial of your faith, bring much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." Here, we see that whatever patience we have in enduring and persevering will ultimately bring honour and glory to God. Think about that! Such an end result makes patience so worthwhile.

Thirdly, we must keep our eye on the Promise of God to reward us. Do you know what God has promised to those who patiently endure trials in life? Let us turn out Bibles to James 1:12 'Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.' And that is not all, God has also promised to reward those who patiently wait for His appearing when Christ returns: Look at 2 Timothy 4:8 'Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.' Jesus Himself said in Revelation 22:12 'And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be'

Dearly beloved, if you want to have patience, please keep your eye of faith on these three things: The power of God to keep us, the purpose of God to try us and the promise of God to reward us. By doing this, you will be able to cultivate the patience you need in this life. 

William Carey was only a cobbler and a poor pastor, and yet he became known as the Father of Modern Missions. His accomplishments were tremendous: He established a strong mission in India and translated the Bible into thirty-five languages and dialects of India and Southeast Asia. He also faced many obstacles and trials. What was it that enabled him to do so much for the Lord despite all these obstacles? It was his indomitable spirit - he had the ability to endure patiently to the very end of his life. He was one who just refused to give up. 

Actually William Carey described himself not as being very intelligent, skilled and talented like other missionaries who were contemporaries. He confessed that he was good at doing only one thing: Plodding on. He was a good plodder. Dearly beloved, the Lord wants us to be plodders too. Let us be godly men and women who will keep plodding on for the Lord, rain or shine. Our Lord Jesus Christ was a good plodder too. He set His heart on going the way of the cross, a way of much suffering, shame and humiliation, and persevered in that way until the very end. According to Hebrews 12:2 'Jesus, for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.' And at the end of His trials when He had patiently and successfully atoned for our sins on the cross, He was able to say, 'It is finished!' (John 19:30). By cultivating patience we are therefore growing to be more like Christ in His patience.

Let us us all ask the Lord today to grant us this patience to endure our trials, patience to be stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58), and patience to wait for His blessed return from Heaven.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11