Virtue #6: Patience – James 1:2-4

Posted by: cghearn | 08/17/2014 | 5:35 pm

Download: Virtue #6: Patience – James 1:2-4

What must I do to learn patience?

The first thing that I need to do is define what patience is.  Patience is “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”  So being patient, by definition is being able to have bad things happen to you and being able to approach those things without responding, in kind, with negativity.  Many people will say that “patience is a virtue” and it is; but it is so much more than that.  A person with patience knows how to react even when there are poisonous people in the mix.

Sodium, if placed on human skin by itself can cause severe irritation or even burns.  Chlorine when inhaled causes difficulty breathing or wheezing; when it comes into contact with skin can also irritate or burn.  I’m going to eat both simultaneously (eat some table salt).  When Sodium is mixed with Chlorine, it becomes a compound known as Sodium-Chloride or table salt. People with patience can take the most volatile situations or elements and make them beneficial. 

The opposite of patience is wrath which is defined as, “strong, stern, or fierce anger; deeply resentful indignation.”  Problems with wrath usually boil down to one major problem and that is a lack of patience.

There are two common household items, one known as vinegar (which you might use in salad dressing) and baking soda (which you can use for cleaning just about anything, including your teeth).  But when you mix these two components together, the results are explosive. Whatever you put them together in will explode.

What’s going to happen when you take a person with no patience and put them into a situation where they’re going to be dealing with some form of stress? Even if the situation isn’t that stressful and the components are not dangerous, that person might explode. What happens when you take a person who is patient and put them in even the most stressful situations?  Even if the situation is stressful and the components are poisonous, that person will prove their usefulness.

“A man of great wrath will pay the penalty, for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.” – Proverbs 19:19

Doctrine of sermon: When we are put to the test but display joy and patience, we are then behaving perfectly.

What must I do to learn patience?

When we are put to the test but display joy, we are reacting perfectly

How many of us are filled with joy when trouble befalls us?  I can tell you that when trials come on me, one of the last things I feel like doing is counting it all joy.  In fact, quite the opposite; when I am being tested I immediately feel like complaining. When anyone of us in this room is in a painful or nerve racking situation, we’re not driven to “count it all joy.”   Yet, in this passage, we’re told to consider that when we’re suffering that we should be considering it as joy.  There’s a name for people who call pain pleasure and they’re called masochists (which is a mental disorder, might I add).  So, in order to exhibit patience, we have to learn to love pain; is that it?  Not exactly…

Scientists have been studying the effect of laughter on human beings and have found, among other things, that laughter has a profound and instantaneous effect on virtually every important organ in the human body. Laughter reduces health-sapping tensions and relaxes the tissues as well as exercising the most vital organs. It is said that laughter, even when forced, results in beneficial effect on us, both mentally and physically. Next time you feel nervous and jittery, indulge in a good laugh. – Executives’ Digest

When we look at the gospels, we can see time and time again where people (particularly the Pharisees) were purposely trying to test Jesus by giving him, what they thought were impossible questions or questions that would either anger them or another group of individuals.  Do we ever see Jesus lose his cool?  No, however there were circumstances where he spoke the truth (Jesus’ favorite word for the Pharisees was, after all, hypocrite).  It’s because Jesus knew he was suffering affliction because of who he was and what he was trying to do.  Jesus gives us a perfect model for patience.

Redemption: When you’re tested, don’t give into wrath, rather understand that you’re being given an opportunity to learn patience…

What must I do to learn patience?

When we are put to the test but display patience, we are then reacting perfectly.

The word James uses in this passage is “ὑπομονή” which can also be translated as “patience.”  Being steadfast, according to the Greeks then, was synonymous with patience.  Also, according to this passage, you can’t produce patience without going through testing.  By this passage, if you want to learn patience, you must be tested.

Christians who are believers for long enough understand that God doesn’t simply give us patience, rather He gives us situations in life which teach us to learn patience.  When someone starts praying for patience, a mature believer will tell them to pray for it somewhere else!

Have you ever had your car run out of gas right before you got home?  Have you ever had someone cut you off in traffic, seemingly to just enrage you?  Has your car ever failed to start at the worst time?  How many different ways can just being on the road cause you to give into wrath?  We need to learn to be patient!

I think of when Jesus was tempted by the Devil himself and what kind of patience that required.  When the Pharisees were constantly plotting behind his back; that required patience.  When the apostles were arguing over who would be the greatest in heaven, that required Jesus to be patient.  Jesus could read the thoughts of others around him, can you imagine the type of patience and restraint you’d have to have?

None of these however is as impressive to me as what Jesus says in Matthew 26:53 to Peter when he was taken prisoner by those who would eventually kill him, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?”  This means that when Christ was being crucified, he could have stopped it.  I have to be honest, I don’t have that kind of patience and restraint.

Redemption: If we display joy and patience when we’re under the worst of circumstances, we’re truly being perfected…

What must I do to learn patience?

When we are put to the test but react with joy and patience, then we lack nothing as believers

According to this epistle, we lack nothing as believers if we would just respond in the right way to being tested or tempted.  It’s funny that the word, “ἔργον” shows up in this passage in verse 4 which means “a result of someone’s hard work.”  So if we’re doing what we should be doing as Christians, then we are allowing patience to perform it’s workmanship on us.

I’ve always viewed the work of God on our hearts as sandpaper on a piece of wood.   Some of us have rougher exteriors than others and thus the sandpaper that has to be used is also rougher.  As God is able to smooth out some of those rough edges to the point where the wood begins to soften and take the shape that God has intended for it.

The hardest thing is that some of you will take longer to shape and soften than others and there’s almost nothing you can do to make the process any faster; the only thing you can do is learn to accept the testing of your faith and be patient as the trails come.  I have bad news, by the way, the trials are coming whether you want them or not and the only part you can control is how you react to them.

One of the coolest things you’ll notice in Europe is many different structures which were erected during a time when things took a long time to build; some of them as early as the 11th century.  Some structures took so long to build and were so intricate, in fact, that often times the group who would begin building the project often times wouldn’t even get to see the final stones put into place and see the building finished.  They would die and the work would continue on after they were gone to be completed and then enjoyed by the next generation…now that’s patience.

Right now, Christ is still waiting for the time that the Father has ordained for him to return to collect his bride, the church, and finally be united with all of his saints.  Many scholars believe that by dating it through the usage of biblical texts that Jesus would have been crucified on April 3, in the year 33.  That means that to date, it has been 1,981 years, 3 months, and four days that Christ has been waiting to be reunited with the bride that he has died for.

Imagine that you could have a particular bride who would cheat on you, be impatient, pursue other men regularly, one that would lie to your face, and refuse to spend time with you because she was always too busy.  All it will cost you is the pain and death of a cross and you’ll have to wait thousands of years to finally marry her.  This is the bride, known as the church, that Christ is being patient with and for.

Redemption: Patience isn’t just a virtue to be applied; it’s something that Christ displayed wonderfully for us to imitate.

Conclusion

Doctrine of sermon: When we display perfect patience, we will no longer lack anything as believers

Illustration: Have someone pound a nail into a board and then pull it out and ask which one was harder?

Application: There was a boy who had a hard time keeping his temper and often would hurt his younger siblings whenever he lost his cool.  His father, wishing to teach him a lesson had him begin to pound in 1 nail into a fence every time that he became angry in order to try and teach his son a lesson.  After the boy finally started to learn to control his temper, his father told him to go back and pull out every nail that he had driven into the fence in anger.  His father taught him that every time he drove in a nail, it left a hole in the wood that could never be filled.

People who know how to be patient rarely make poor financial decisions, are usually considered wise, and almost never have to apologize.