SCRIPTURE: Be patient, then, brothers, until the
Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable
crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient
and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” James 5:7-8, NIV.
Mention the word “patience” and many people
will associate it with the Biblical Job, Patriarch of Uz, in the Old Testament.
Someone who endures in the presence of difficulty is said to “Have the patience
of Job,” and we nod knowingly. Resorting to my dictionary, I find: PATIENCE: “1: bearing pains or trials calmly
or without complaint.”
However, my reading of the Book of Job indicates
much complaint, against his friend’s viewpoints, to the point of impatience:
“restless or short of temper especially under irritation, delay, or opposition.”
In fact, my references do not indicate that a word directly meaning “patience”
is found in the entire Book of Job. I will grant that Job exemplifies the
definition of PATIENCE: “4: steadfast despite opposition,
difficulty, or adversity,” but Job also keeps moving forward.
Job endures. He is steadfast, he “hangs in there,”
he persists in defense of his innocence, and pursues God until he receives
an answer. I find passages alluding to Job’s righteousness (Job 1:1,5,8)
and fortitude (1:20-22; 2:10). Just to be picky, the section relating complaints
by Job, and replies by his three friends, comprises chapters (not verses
-chapters!) 3 to 37! This I say neither to discredit Job, nor to imply that
he is not without his virtues, but to suggest that there is more depth to
this story than a mere word, a word that is not actually used in the telling.
Consider the “Parable of the Sower” as told
by Jesus, in Mt. 13:1-23. His emphasis is on the seed, and alludes to the
depth of understanding by the “one who hears the message.” Read again Mt.
13:16, where Jesus says,“Listen then to what
the parable of the sower means.” He is talking about both persistence,
and patience. The hearer of the word who has little or no root (understanding)
“lasts only a short time.” I think His words are plain enough that we grasp
The seed is the message of the Word
of God; WE ARE THE GROWTH MEDIUM, in which the word sprouts, and then
either grows to fruition, or withers and dies.
True, we must patiently wait upon the Lord, but not
to the extreme that we do not actively grow. When the withering sun comes
out, ie., the “heat” of opposition, difficulty, or adversity, do we
fold our leaves - er, hands, and say, “I’m being patient, LORD!” Or do we
actively, vigorously, put down deeper roots?
Now, consider the farmer, the sower. Hopefully, we
will grow to become the disciple that strives to fulfill the terms
of “The Great Commission” -‘make disciples, baptize, teach’ - (Mt. 28:16-20.)
Certainly, this means to work as a “sower” of the seed of the Word of God.
In fact, James writes about “patience” in terms of the farmer waiting for
the land to yield its valuable crop, and advises us as brothers and sisters
in Christ to “be patient and stand firm.” (James 5:7-11) I note, however,
that while the Greek text uses a word translated “patience” in verse 7, James
used a different word meaning “perseverance,” or “steadfastness” when referring
to Job in verse 11, saying, “you have heard of Job’s perseverance!”
Peter provides a listing of the virtues needed to “participate
in the divine nature of God” in his second epistle. (2 Peter 1:4-11)
Peter also uses the same word as James, meaning “endure” or “persevere”
rather than the word meaning patience. ( 2 Peter 1:6)
Yes, we must be patient in our quest to be a
sower of the Word of God, but great endurance will also be required. “Be
all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.” (2 Peter 1:10)
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