“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24
IF, then, the first implantation of the divine life in the soul is sudden; the advance of that work is in most cases gradual. Let this be an encouragement to any who are writing hard and bitter things against themselves in consequence of their little progress. The growth of divine knowledge in the soul is often slow-the work of much time and of protracted discipline. Look at the eleven disciples-what slow, tardy scholars were they, even though taught immediately from the lips of Jesus; and “who teaches like Him?” They drank their knowledge from the very Fountain. They received their light directly from the Sun itself. And yet, with all these superior advantages-the personal ministry, instructions, miracles, and example of our dear Lord-how slow of understanding were they to comprehend, and how “slow of heart to believe,” all that He so laboriously, clearly, and patiently taught them! Yes, the advance of the soul in the divine life, its knowledge of sin, of the hidden evil, the heart’s deep treachery and intricate windings, Satan’s subtlety, the glory of the gospel, the preciousness of Christ, and its own interest in the great salvation, is not the work of a day, nor of a year, but of many days, yes, many years of deep ploughing, long and often painful discipline, of “windy storm and tempest.”
But this life in the soul is not less real, nor less divine, because its growth is slow and gradual: it may be small and feeble in its degree, yet, in its nature, it is the life that never dies. How many of the Lord’s beloved ones, the children of godly parents, brought up in the ways of God, are at a loss, in reviewing the map of their pilgrimage, to remember the starting-point of their spiritual life. They well know that they left the city of destruction-that by a strong and a mighty arm they were brought out of Egypt; but so gently, so imperceptibly, so softly, and so gradually were they led-“first a thought, then a desire, then a prayer”-that they could no more discover when the first dawning of divine life took place in their soul, than they could tell the instant when natural light first broke upon chaos. Still it is real. It is no fancy that he has inherited an evil principle in the heart; it is no fancy that that principle grace has subdued. It is no fancy that he was once a child of darkness; it is no fancy that he is now a child of light. He may mourn in secret over his little advance, his tardy progress, his weak faith, his small grace, his strong corruption, his many infirmities, his startings aside like “a broken bow,” yet he can say, “Though I am the ‘chief of sinners,’ and the ‘least of all saints’-though I see within so much to abase me, and without so much to mourn over, yet this ‘one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.’ I see that which I never saw before-a hatefulness in sin, and a beauty in holiness; I see a vileness and emptiness in myself, and a preciousness and fullness in Jesus.” Do not forget, then, dear reader, that feeble grace is yet real grace. If it but “hungers and thirsts,” if it “touches but the hem,” it shall be saved.
There’s an old saying: “If you love your job you’ll never work a day in your life.” That’s not quite true. Most people work hard. But even when they love their job they still have to do things they don’t like to do. They give effort above and beyond what’s comfortable. It’s probably more accurate to say that if you’re doing something you believe in, the hard work you do will bring you deep satisfaction. Novelist Ursula K. Le Guin stated, “It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” Some folks suffer from “destination disease.” They think that arriving at a certain place in the life will bring them happiness. What a shame. Because the reality is that many times when we arrive, we discover that it wasn’t what we expected. If you become fixated on a destination you can miss the great things that happen along the way. You miss the joy of today. If you’re convinced that “someday” is going to be your best day, you won’t put enough into today-or get enough out of it. If you’re not doing something significant with your life, it doesn’t mater how long it is. It’s not enough just to survive you need a reason to live. This is where Christ comes in: He will give you new life, and add purpose to your life-plus the power to fulfill that purpose. D.L. Moody once said, “Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can.
How do you develop patience? Through tribulation! When your honesty seem to go unnoticed, when your hard work seems to go unrewarded, when your kindness is rendered without thanks, when your helping hand if offered and ignored, when even love is refused-that’s when patience shines in all it’s beauty. Paul writes, “Tribulation worketh patience.” You’ve seen this principal at work in the development of children. One child, overly shielded and protected, grows up into a weakling without ambition and courage, destined to failure. Another, left to fight their own battles, to struggle, to learn through trial and error, grows into near-perfect maturity. The same principle applies to the Christian life when you realize that each storm brings it blessings and each trial produces it’s rewards. Lets look at three practical benefits of patience: First, patience brings hope. “Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled” (Ro 15:4 NLT). Second, patience produces fruit. “And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest” (Lk 8:15 NLT). Third, through patience you receive what God has promised. “Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance” (Heb 6:12 NLT).
This is something that as a people, and as a country, we should give some thought to. Definitely something to think about.
Many times we are caught in the trap of running to extremes. God’s will has been revealed and needs to be understood the way God intended it to be.
The Pharisees had this problem. They even had everyday life defined to the point where it was hard for a person to live. On the Sabbath day, they had problems with different concepts such as “work.” On the Sabbath you were to cease from work, and the Pharisees decided to define what God intended by this. Here are a few examples:
- You could not turn over in bed more than seven times or that was considered work.
- If you wanted to borrow something from your neighbor, you could not put your hand through the threshold of the door to receive it, nor could the neighbor do that. This would be considered work. If you both met halfway, it was not considered work.
Jesus said in
, speaking to the Pharisees, “…And thus you invalidated the Word of God for the sake of your tradition.” For the sake of their definitions which they had made law, their extremes, they made void the Word of God. We laugh at the Pharisees and wonder how they could have been so ignorant. But if Jesus were here physically today, what would He say of us? Let us not run to extremes; let us seek what God intended and do it. Either extreme of a truth is no longer truth.