Her Perfect Work

Patience is one of those traits of godliness that’s easy to miss; yet we’re to be adding this to our faith with all diligence. (2Pe 1:5-7) It’s like longsuffering, the fruit of the Spirit (Ga 5:22-23) working in us to endure hardship and difficulty without becoming bitter (1Co 13:4), but it’s translated from a different Greek word, and has a different connotation.

God tells us to rejoice as He stretches and grows us through various kinds of trials, producing patience in us. (Ja 1:3) He exhorts us to work with Him during this process, allowing patience to have its way, her perfect work, to come to fullness so that we will be perfect and complete. (Ja 1:5)

This suggests that patience is more than longsuffering, not giving up; it’s continuing to trust in God’s goodness and faithfulness in the midst of suffering, enduring in hope and confidence in God.

The patience of Job is not merely refusing to despair (Job 2:10), it’s persevering trust in God (Job 13:15), a case study in God’s way. (Ja 5:11):

As we begin to see more of God’s purpose in our suffering, we begin rejoicing in the midst of it; repeatedly watching God work things out in our lives gives us practical, hands-on, experience with God’s heart, and this produces hope (Ro 5:3-4), an expectation of glorious purpose in all of our suffering, well before it’s apparent to others.

Let’s add patience to our faith, purposing to hope in God in the midst of trial; counting Him faithful before we can see the outcome, honoring Him when all looks lost and broken, when all we have left are His precious promises. (2Pe 1:4) Since we’ll eventually look back from eternity on our light affliction, exulting in God with joy unspeakable and full of glory, might as well start now. (1Pe 1:8)

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2 thoughts on “Her Perfect Work”

  1. To “let patience have her perfect work” is to persistently and faithfully submit to God’s declared purpose in our trials (that we might be partakers of His holiness – He 12:10), through consistent, joyful pursuit of Him during our trials, seeking wisdom and obeying Him as well as we possibly can. It’s refusing to take the carnal, easy way out, but yielding to, trusting in and cooperating with God as He continues to produce the image of His Son in us (Ga 4:19) according to His pleasure and for His glory. It is in this way that we obtain all we need in God, becoming “perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (Ja 1:3)

  2. Barrow evidently defines patience as: “That virtue which qualifieth us to bear all conditions and all events, by God’s disposal incident to us, with such apprehensions and persuasions of mind, such dispositions and affections of heart, such external deportment and practices of life as God requireth and good reason directeth.” (Vincent’s Word Studies, notes on 2Pe 1:6, p 722)

    Patience, which “links the life of tribulation with the sovereignty of Christ here upon earth, likewise links it with the consummation of Christ’s kingdom in heaven.” (Ibid, p 1232)

    Longsuffering is defined as: “a patient holding out under trial; a long-protracted restraint of the soul from yielding to passion, especially the passion of anger.” (Ibid, pp. 805-806)

    In exploring the difference between these two virtues, it may be that Patience is more of a vertical / God-ward disposition, and Longsuffering more of a horizontal / man-ward disposition. Perhaps patience is enduring God’s dealings with us in hope and joy, while Longsuffering is more bearing with the faults and incompetencies of others without losing our temper or getting frustrated, remaining kind and gentle.

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