. . . they shall mount up with wings as eagles . . . Isaiah 40:31

By Faith and Patience

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

This verse is not an easy pill to swallow. How is it possible to count it as joy when we fall into various temptations or testings?

Can we really be joyful in times of temptation? That doesn’t even make natural sense. Well, James gives us a hint in the next verse.

James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh [or exercises] patience.

Evidently, the working or exercising of patience has some unseen benefit for us, especially if it can make the trying of our faith a joyful event.

This lesson is about patience. And, to be honest, it’s not a popular subject. It ranks right up there with humility, in popularity. But exercising patience has the potential of giving us great reward, as we’ll see.

It seems that some of the things that can help us the most in life are the very things we don’t really want to hear about. But this is a practical message that can help us in very positive ways almost immediately, if we’ll hear it and do it.

And here’s the good news that we need to understand, and that is that we can increase the amount of patience that we have. Patience can be developed and strengthened in our lives. And having strong faith will benefit us greatly.

Faith and Patience

Is patience as important as faith? Yes. But why is it important? Look at verse 4.

James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect [or complete] work, [so] that ye may be perfect [or complete] and entire, wanting [or lacking] nothing.

Everyone wants to be complete and entire, lacking nothing. How does the Bible say for us to get to that place? By letting patience have her complete work, not partial, but complete. It seems clear then that patience is important to have.

Hebrews 6:12 that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Through what? Through faith AND patience. They do what? They inherit the promises, the things God has promised us in His word. So then, patience is far more important to us than we realize. It’s not by faith alone. Faith and patience work together. Without patience, faith will not last very long.

You see, our inheritance, the things God has promised us don’t come automatically, and they don’t come immediately. They require FAITH AND PATIENCE. If they came immediately, we wouldn’t need very much faith and we certainly wouldn’t need patience.

By Grace through Faith

But what we’re praying and believing God for doesn’t usually happen two minutes after we pray for it, or even by next week.

The Bible says that God’s gift of salvation comes by grace through faith. In fact, everything God gives us is given to us by His grace and received through our faith.

So, we can readily see that faith is involved. But just because we hear a promise from the Bible and believe it, or have faith for it, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen by the end of the day, or even the year, for that matter. We have to believe it until it happens, and not be shaken by contrary evidence, no matter how long it takes. And that’s why faith and patience work together.

Hebrews 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

After some time passes, we receive the promise we’re believing from His word, if we faint not, the Bible says, that is, if we remain in faith.

It’s so easy to give up on what we’re praying about, and just throw in the towel, if we’re not patient. And we say, well, it looks like it’s not going to happen. And it’s been a whole month now. I guess His answer was no. It just must not be His will for me after all.

And we cast away our confidence, which would have given us great reward if we had kept it, great recompense of reward, the Bible says.

And so, patience must be well developed in us if we’re going to receive the inheritance we have in Christ. Let’s look at Abraham.

Cheerful Endurance

Hebrews 6:13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, [So, Abraham received a promise from God]

Hebrews 6:14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.

Hebrews 6:15 And so, after he [Abraham] had PATIENTLY endured, he obtained the promise.

Abraham patiently endured. Oh what a powerful thing patient endurance is. Another definition for patience is cheerful endurance. Abraham cheerfully endured.

Abram was 75 years old when God promised him that in his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. Yet at the time he had no children and his wife was barren. What a situation to be in!

But the Bible says that Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. What was? His believing, his faith in what God had promised him. And that’s what He counts as our righteousness, our faith in the work of Christ at Calvary, and our faith in all the promises of God.

We have a book full of promises that God has given us, the Bible. And it says we walk in the footsteps of Abraham’s faith, who is the father of us all. And so, our faith walk is going to be similar to Abraham’s experience of faith.

But, the question is, did God’s promise happen in Abraham’s life immediately ? No. Was it next week? Was it next year? No. The promise of a child took 24 years.

He Staggered Not

Imagine what must have gone through his mind after ten or fifteen years. He must’ve thought, is this ever going to happen? Surely I must have misunderstood what the Lord told me. But he didn’t stagger in his faith.

Romans 4:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

Romans 4:21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

Now that’s PATIENCE. His faith would not have lasted 24 years without it.

But remember, a thousand years to the Lord is like a day. 24 years is like a flutter of His eyelids. It was very fast for the Lord. But to Abraham it seemed slow.

Isaiah prophesied that a virgin shall conceive and bear a son. But it took hundreds of years for that to happen, centuries after Isaiah died, but it did happen.

You see, if God said it, then it’s true today, it’s true tomorrow, and it’s true forever, no matter how long it takes to happen.

And so, Abraham’s faith is the kind of faith that we should have. And if he needed patient endurance, then, guess what, we need it too.

What is Patience?

Now, what exactly is patience? Well, we know it’s a spiritual force because it’s one of the fruits of the Spirit. That is, it comes from the Spirit of God.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, LONGSUFFERING, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Galatians 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Patience here is called longsuffering. Remember the verse about love in 1st Corinthians chapter 13? Love SUFFERS LONG and is kind. That means it’s patient. It suffers long.

Patience is cheerful endurance. Anybody can suffer long if they’re forced to, but can they do it cheerfully and be kind while it’s happening?

And notice. Patience is a form of suffering. When we’re patient we SUFFER long.

So then, do we automatically have patience just because it’s a fruit of the Spirit? No, We don’t have any of the fruits of the Spirit unless we choose to, unless we yield ourselves to the Spirit of God and resist the flesh.

Remember, Jesus said, I am the vine and you are the branches. Where does the fruit grow, on the vine, or on the branches? The fruit grows on the branches. And we’re the branches. That’s where these things are developed.

Of course, Jesus has all these things in Himself, they are all certainly in the vine, And the Holy Spirit has all these things. They ARE the fruit of the Spirit. And we know that God, the Father, is patient and longsuffering. In fact, He’s called the God of patience.

Romans 15:5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:

He is called the God of patience. He spoke things long ago that haven't happened yet. But will they happen? Yes. Is He impatient about it? No. Is He pacing the floor and wringing His hands? No.

But how about us? These fruits of the Spirit don't show up in us until we cultivate them. How do we do that? By yielding to the Spirit and ignoring the flesh.

A Fruit of the Spirit

So it is with patience. Have you noticed that the flesh is not naturally inclined to be patient? When we want something, when do we want it? Right now.

But patience has to be developed and cultivated in us if we’re going to have it working in us. We must practice it. How nice it would be if we could just pray for it and poof, we’re full of patience.

No, we don’t get it that way. There’s an old saying we jokingly say, don’t ever pray for patience, you’ll regret it. But patience doesn’t come by praying for it anyway, although we’ve got to start somewhere. Patience comes by practicing it.

In this passage of Galatians chapter 5, Paul makes a contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. The works of the flesh is a list of things the flesh DOES. Works are things that are done, they are deeds, they are actions.

But then he refers to the FRUIT of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, kindness, patience, and so on. What’s the difference between a work and a fruit? A work is something that is done or enacted naturally, but a fruit is something that’s grown.

The flesh simply does what it does, with no special effort, it is what it is. But the fruit of the Spirit must be grown in us. It’s not something that’s done naturally or automatically. We cultivate it, we grow it, and we overwrite that which comes naturally in the flesh.

Practicing Patience

It’s the same principle as a body-builder. That’s how we build patience in our life. We exercise our spiritual muscles against the natural impatience that’s working in us, whenever it comes up. We resist it, and do the opposite instead. This is how all the fruit of the Spirit is cultivated and developed in us, by yielding to the Spirit and resisting the flesh.

The body-builder exercises his muscles against the resistance of the weights he’s lifting. Is it fun? No, we’ve all heard the expression, no pain, no gain. But the body-builder will endure the pain to get the result he’s after.

In a documentary about Arnold Swartzenegger, he talked about his early days of body-building. He said he would work out all day long, hour after hour, day after day, and every time he did an exercise, it meant that he was a little closer to becoming a famous body-builder and getting to go to America where he could make movies.

He had a dream, he had a goal. He had a vision of something that drove him to endure the pain and achieve the desired result. So, in a sense, the pain was a source of joy for him. What was our text in this lesson?

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh [exercises] patience.

In other words, the trying or the testing of our faith should give us joy, because it gives us the opportunity to exercise our patience. And every time we exercise our patience, we get stronger in something that’s going to help us reach our goal. And what is our goal? To let patience have her complete work in us, so that we can be complete, lacking nothing.

That ought to be a motivation to exercise our patience every time we have the opportunity. And, we have many opportunities every day.

When patience is developed in our lives, then faith is going to work better for us, because faith and patience work together, and with faith and patience I can inherit the promises of God.

Ways to Practice Patience

And so, how do we develop patience in our life? Well, we practice it every time we’re feeling the urge to be impatient. Have you noticed that when you’re out driving, you have abundant opportunities to practice patience?

If you want to exercise patience, then one way to start out is to drive the speed limit, not 5 MPH over, not 10 MPH over, but the speed limit. And just let the guy beside you at the traffic light take off faster than you do, so that he can get ahead. He’s going to do it anyway, and, guess what, it’s not even a race.

Another good example of practicing patience is when we’re in line somewhere and someone in front of us is being very slow or is causing unnecessary delay. Oh, how antsy we get. But we can relax ourselves and be kind and pleasant instead, even though it hurts.

You see, it hurts a little bit to exercise patience. We are suffering long. But no pain, no gain. Every time we practice patience, we’re getting stronger at it. And practice makes perfect, because we’re adding the force of patience to our spiritual weaponry.

Our faith to receive our inheritance in Christ is getting stronger. Why? Because it takes faith AND patience to inherit the promises. And we’re building strong patience.

And you’ll be amazed at the calming effect it has on our spirit. Impatience is a driving force that pushes us, and we can actually feel it. We really notice it when it’s trying to push us and we’re resisting it.

So, let’s begin to practice patience on a daily basis, and let it develop in us over time. Let this fruit of the Spirit that’s in our heart be grown on the outside, and we’ll have great and lasting results in our faith.

Hebrews 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

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