James 1:4 “And let patience have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
For fallen sinners, the development of a better, more perfect patience seems impossible. Perhaps even more noticeable than this is the pain that is often mingled in with the process. Like the heat that draws out the imperfections of gold, circumstances and trials are the fires made to produce something similar in you. These are the God-glorifying, people-cleansing kind of trials. The more you love His glory, the more you honor the trial that reveals the glory of Christ in you. It’s a glory experienced through believing and trusting that His Word is bigger than everything you do, or go through.
Is it just a virtue?
Is the purpose of patience that you would be a more enjoyable, less grumpy person? Is it so people around you are able to make a few mistakes without you flipping a lid? I suppose these are good perks, even great ones, but is this the fullness of its purpose in our lives?
We must understand that being patient is not primarily for us, but for Him, for Jesus. We are reflections of an invisible God. We are to imitate Christ as dear children. As image bearers of a patient, loving God, we are to seek in every way to reflect what, and who He is. He is love, so let us love. He is gracious, so let us show grace. He is merciful, so let us show mercy to others. He is patient, perfect and complete, lacking nothing, so let us desire to reflect this too.
Maybe a slightly different wording will hit closer to home, as it does with me.
Do not let impatience have it’s full effect in you.
You’ve seen it, right? The hardship and frustration that impatience causes the ones we are impatient with. You’ve seen the tearing down and the discouragement in the circumstances where our impatience is liberally applied. What about the effect of impatience on your own heart. It steals your joy. It takes your eyes from the prize. The trial comes, and instead of counting it all as joy as James declared, you choose to count it as some curse, lack of care, or misleading on God’s part. If you see instead that God brings trials so that in the end your joy would be more full, that this is actually His design, then, would you count it as joy?
We need to trust the Bible. There is a perfect patience which God will work in His people, but His people must come to a place of “letting” Him do it. We are to acknowledge that God is sovereign and able, worthy and committed to our greatest good. He is over you in everything, bigger, and more needed than we often admit. “Let” means to admit our need, and then move out of the way. Be willing, for He is willing. He lovingly, and patiently works in vessels who are humbled in the midst of His grace, seeing their need for a greater work of God in their heart. Is this you?
We all lack, and we all need. That is our nature. Empty lives born with fleshly desires that lead us at best to Hell. Understand that human desire is not enough to fill human emptiness. That’s what the Bible says anyway. “No man is good, no not one.” (Romans 3:10) “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19)
We need an outside source of patience and purpose. See that Jesus lacks nothing, and has everything. And believe it or not, your circumstance is lighter than the world’s sins which Christ bore on the cross, including your own. Consider His trial. He was patient in it because the glory to be revealed in the end was far weightier. That’s what makes Christian trial so precious and meaningful, and Christian patience so needful, that Jesus is both the means and the end to it all. He gives strength and He gets praise from those He strengthens. He fills lives, and is full of glory. He glorifies those whom He has predestined, chosen, and justified. In the end you will see the purpose of patience like never before. You will cry out with millions that it was all worth it. Every trial and hardship which drove you to your desperate prayers for patience, also brought you to your view of His glory and your eternal joy because of it.
When you choose to wait for Him, and trust in Him through all things, He will work His patience and joy in you. In the end you will lack nothing, being made more and more like your Lord until you see His face. And “When you see Him, you will be like Him.” Hasten the day!