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Most everyone has heard the following phrases at sometime or another concerning patience:
Patience is defined in several terms as follows:
Galatians 5:22 says patience is the fruit of the Spirit - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law."
Let's take a look at the following verses that deal specifically with patience (perseverance, endurance) to see if we can gain a better understanding of this concept "patience" and what it means to a Christian in his or her daily walk:
James 5:10-11 encourages us to consider the examples of the prophets and Job relative to patience. We will look to the example of Job to better understand patience. Our study begins in the Old Testament in the book of Job chapter 1, verses 1-3: "In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among the people of the East." According to these verses, Job was a man whose moral character was upright. Though he was not sinless, the word blameless in this context means that Job had kept himself from great transgressions. His strong belief in God resulted in a deep respect for God and consequently he shunned evil. These verses also indicate that Job was a very wealthy man. Imagine owning seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys. What would you do with all those sheep and beasts of burden? The sheep provided wool for clothing which was most likely traded as a commodity. Camels were used in those days for long distance transport of goods. They may have been used to transport the wool to neighboring countries were the wool was traded for other goods and transported back to the land of Uz. Oxen and donkeys were beasts of burden. The oxen were used to plow the fields and the donkeys were most likely used to transport the grain and vegetables to local markets in the land of Uz. Not only was Job a very wealthy and respected man in his country, Job was blessed by God. Job had ten children, seven sons and three daughters. By all measures of the day and age in which Job lived, Job was considered to be abundantly blessed by God.
Now let's look at verses 6-11 in Job Chapter 1: "One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it." Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him: he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face." Here is recorded in the Bible a dialogue that took place between God and Satan. Satan had been roaming through the earth and the Lord asked if Satan had noticed Job. Satan's reply indicated that he had most definitely noticed Job. Satan had probably even tempted Job to commit grievous sins but to no avail. In his frustration and failure to get Job to commit grievous sins, Satan now accuses God by implying that the only reason Job worships and respects God is because God has blessed Job. Satan went further to say that if God were to take away Job's possessions, Job would curse God to his face.
Now let's look at verses 12-22 in Job Chapter 1: "The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger." Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. One day when Job's sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house, a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!" While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!" While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!" While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, "Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!" At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing." God gave Satan permission to take all of Job's possessions but God did not give Satan permission to do any bodily harm to Job himself at this time. It is important to note that Satan could not do anything to Job while God's hedge of protection surrounded Job. It is hard to imagine the grief and shock at losing all of one's possessions as well as all the children in what appears to be the span of a single day.
Now let's look at verses 1-10 in Job chapter 2 which start out very similar to the verses in Chapter 1: "On another day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it." Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason." "Skin for skin!" Satan replied, "A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch our your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face." The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life." So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said." God now states to Satan that Job still maintains his integrity even though Job lost all of his possessions and children without any reason. Note that part of the verse "without any reason". Job had not done anything to deserve this type of treatment. (If something remotely like this happened today to one of our fellow Christians, we might be sorely tempted to call it a punishment as Job's friends suggested. We might even go so far as to suggest that he or she was harboring some sin that they had not yet confessed nor was willing to repent of, like Job's friends also suggested.) Satan now said that the reason Job had maintained his integrity was because God had not allowed Job himself to be physically afflicted. God now gives Satan permission to physically afflict Job but not to take his life. Take note of Job's wife's response after seeing her husband being physically afflicted, she questioned his integrity and wondered why he was still holding on. She appears to have vehemently suggested that Job curse God and die. But Job's faith in God would not allow him to do this. Job's response reveals his trust in Almighty God and that he was willing to accept whatever God had planned for his life. This is true faith and patience. As a preacher once said; "True faith is not getting from God what you want in life, true faith is accepting what God has planned for your life." Accepting what God has planned for your life may mean enduring pain and hardship. We do this through patience that is a "Fruit of the Spirit". We cannot do it in our own strength. We must rely upon the Holy Spirit of God. Job's question is still valid today "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" God's will for our life may involve both good and trouble and we should be willing to accept this through patient endurance as God may be using us as an example to reach others with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The book of Job goes into great detail as to the emotions that Job experienced over a considerable period of time. After all, Job was only a man. As the knowledge of the loss of his children sunk in, the physical affliction of his body continued, and the accusation of his friends mounted, you could say that he got down in the dumps so to speak. Job's friends believed that Job had sinned and that God was punishing Job for un-confessed sin. Job's friends questioned Job's integrity. At some point you should read the entire Book of Job to get a better understanding. We, however, will move on to the latter part of the book of Job. Lets look at Job's response to his friends accusations in Job 27: 2-6 - "As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul, as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit. I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live." Job has endured the accusations of his friends and maintains his integrity. He has accepted that this state of being is God's will for his life even though he cannot understand the why. Job is patiently enduring what God has allowed to enter into his life. Now lets skip to Job Chapter 40: 1-5 - "The LORD said to Job: Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer Him!" Then Job answered the LORD; "I am unworthy-how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer-twice, but I will say no more." In Chapters 38 & 39 of the Book of Job, Almighty God speaks to Job. God asks many questions of Job that puts everything in perspective. God reveals to Job in the form of questions the awesome power of God (omnipotence), the timelessness of God (omnipresence), and the awesome knowledge of Almighty God (all knowing). Just look at Job chapter 38: 19-20 - "What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings?" Job's answer in Chapter 40: 3-5 listed above indicates that even though Job doesn't fully comprehend what is going on in his life, God does and that is all that really matters. This awareness that God is in control allows us to patiently endure life's trials even though we may not understand the why.
Now let's look at Job chapter 42 verses 1-6: "Then Job replied to the LORD: "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things to wonderful for me to know." "You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.' My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." Job now realizes that their are some things to wonderful for him to understand and that God's will for our life will be accomplished whether that may be through prosperity or through hardship. God is in control. Job had encountered God Almighty who created the heavens and the earth. Job saw the majesty and glory of God. This realization is what caused Job to repent in dust and ashes. Job knew that he had not committed any sin to have brought such judgment from God to result in the loss of all his children and his possessions. Job was repenting because in his weakness he had questioned God.
Now let's look at Job 42: 7-17 - "After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right , as my servant Job has." So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job's prayer. After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so he died, old and full of years." The Lord God restored Job. God dealt with Job's friends by telling them that they had not spoken correctly about God. Further, God told them that Job had spoken the truth. God blessed the latter part of Job's life with more than he had before. Note what is said in Job 42:11 - "They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought upon him,". This is further evidence that God is in control. Satan cannot do any harm to us unless God lifts the hedge of protection from around us. When God does lift the hedge of protection from around us, you might say that we are in God's spotlight. It is during these times of trial that we need to let patience, a fruit of the Spirit of God, be exhibited in our lives so that we can endure and bring glory and honor to God.
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