Summary: Focusing upon the virtue of patience and the Divine mandate to transform all Christians' into Christ-like image...
Of Promise, Patience and Prize
It is quiz time folks! Name the fourth element in the nine-fold Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). Of course, the first three-Love, Joy and Peace- reel off our mouth instantly but the fourth one (very vital one at that) doesn’t come to our mind just as easily. Well, Patience as the oxford dictionary defines it is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious. Spiritually speaking it is all that and more for it can even pass off as the twin virtue of love which bears all things… endures all things (I Cor 13:7).
In this message, I would like bring to the fore how the Almighty develops in us the virtue of patience even while placing a prize before us all with an aim of moulding us into His Son’s image. Talk of metamorphosing an ugly caterpillar (when we come to him warts and all at the point of salvation) into a beautiful butterfly…(2 Cor 3:18, 2 Peter 1:5-11).
Let’s look at some men and even the Son of God donning the human vesture who for the prize that was placed before them took “everything” in their stride “patiently” (Heb 12:2). What is common among the greatest Prime-Minister in Biblical history, greatest King of Israel and the Saviour of the World is that promise of something “juicy” was not immediately followed by it falling on their lap but them obtaining it only after exhibiting oodles of patience in waiting and even suffering for it.
“Here comes the dreamer” hissed his envious brothers’ contemptuously even while plotting his murder as they saw Joseph in “designer attire” of his times from a distance riding “majestically” towards them on a donkey (Gen 37:17-20). About 1650 years later, “someone” who “rode majestically” on the back of a donkey into Jerusalem (Matt 21:1-9) also figured in the murderous conspiracy of his envious “elder brothers” in Ministry (Pharisees and Saducees-Matt 26:4).
Now what exactly were Joseph dreams’ which amongst other reasons contributed to his elder brothers’ turning green with envy? To quote verbatim from the Scriptures and its interpretation thereof…”my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” … and “this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” …meaning virtually, he would be a high and mighty ruler one day with even his kith and kin being his subjects (Gen 37:5-11).
Well did Joseph’s dreams come to pass immediately. Well they had go through the pit-Potiphar’s house (den of temptations actually)-prison- before stepping into the palace, as it were. In the process consider what “all” transpired…let the Scripture take over at this stage…
There in prison they hurt his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar until God’s time finally came—how God tested his patience! –Psalm 105:18-19 (TLB)
Let Scripture continue to speak…
Then the king sent for him and set him free. He was put in charge of the entire king’s possessions.-Psalm 105:20
Lessons’ to be learnt apart from the all –too-obvious fact…Patience pays? Firstly, the good Lord in His sovereign wisdom permits lies and injustice, yes I reiterate lies and injustice to triumph at the expense of His chosen ones’, which would be a quite a bitter pill to swallow for His loved ones’ bred as they have been from childhood onwards on societal clichés such as “Truth triumphs and lies lose” . “What’s happening, Lord” is the question which would initially pop-up in the confused minds of the devout lot even as slowly but steadily the final beautiful design of their lives prepared by the Master artist emerges before their eyes. As the full scope of His grand tapestry is revealed slowly but surely (Rom 8:28/2 Cor 3:18) to His loved ones’ what other choice is there to them other than to mouth loud Hallelujahs’ in this World and the Next.
Some of course tragically as the Scripture bears out did not quite co-operate with the Master trainer and lost out…consider this Scripture
“And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”-Deu 8:2-3
Quite unjust of the Lord to let us go hungry opined the majority lot (the ones’ which came out of Egypt and were travelling towards their prized Promised Land) when confronted albeit only temporarily with hunger pangs. They rebelled against Him with tragic consequences (Numbers 11). Though this may not have been recorded in the Scriptures, we can safely presume that for the likes of godly Joshua or Caleb (even while rubbing shoulders’ with the disgruntled lot off to the Promised Land) rebellion against the Lord’s will was never a possibility. They patiently took a stand borne out of love reasoning all the while that “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” meaning that the Lord’s presence with them was more important than any presence or absence of food. If that be so, make a note ministers’ of God of 21st century…Thou shall not live by any earthly appreciation alone but by His approval of thy ministry done for His glory!!!