We’ve looked at patience. And then there’s perseverance, which you could interpret as doing something and persistently doing it, going on and on and on doing it. And then there’s endurance which is the word we’re mainly dealing with. The Greek word means remaining under. So you’re under all these pressures and endurance is remaining there. It’s holding out against them but it’s not trying to escape from them.
So we have these three aspects of Christian conduct: patience, perseverance and endurance. And they’re all involved in the preparation for the coming of the Lord. Let’s read these few verses from James 5:7:
“Therefore, be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.”
I find that for most men servants of the Lord, patience is the hardest thing to achieve. I had been a Christian at least thirty years before I realized that my besetting sin was impatience. And when I began to deal with it, I began to realize what a hold it had over me.
“See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient, establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the judge is standing at the door. My brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord as an example of suffering and patience.”
I run into quite a lot of people today who want to claim to be prophets. But I’m not sure that they’re following the scriptural pattern because there’s nothing very glamorous about being a prophet according to the Bible. It’s painful. It means isolation, persecution.
I preached once in Ghana, Africa, on the ministries of the Body of Christ: apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers and shepherds. I had an audience of three thousand people, mostly young men. After I dealt with the ministry of the apostle for quite a while, I said, “How many of you would like to be apostles?” A lot of them put their hands up. I said, “Wait a moment, let me read you the job description before you apply.” I turned to 1 Corinthians 4, which is very vivid in the NIV. I think it applies really to the contemporary, Charismatic people.1 Corinthians 4, beginning at verse 8:
“Already you have all you want, already you have become rich. you have become kings, and that without us. How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you. For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ. We are weak but you are strong. You are honored, we are dishonored. To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answered kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.”
That’s the New Testament description of an apostle.
Lord, I too know how it is sometimes so difficult to be patient, to just go on and to endure. I realize that the Christian life is not always so glamorous and exciting because Youwant to teach us patience and endurance, even when life seems a bit dull, to continue to trust You. Thank You for Your wisdom and love! In Jesus’ Name, amen.