II PETER 8
THE NECESSARY PRELUDE TO PATIENCE
This list of seven Christian characteristics, which Peter emphasizes here in his first chapter, is the road every Christian must travel in order to fulfill the order of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. He said, “Be ye perfect, even as your Heavenly Father is perfect”. What this means is that the Christian life is the preparation that we make to be like the Father so we can be a companion to Him for all eternity. Jesus came to help us on that quest, and to make up for all of our failures. John says that if we walk in the light with Him, He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and that is the only way we can be perfect and thus prepared to dwell with our Heavenly Father, who is perfect.
The quest is not an easy one, and as we now come to the fourth attribute of Our Father, we ought to be impressed with its importance and with the difficulty all of us face in attaining it. Patience, Peter has put at the very center of his list. Before considering our own attempts to master this wonderful characteristic, I want to point out how important it is for us that the Father has it as one of the traits of His perfect spirit and that we benefit from it. The history of Israel, in the Old Testament, is a history of a people who constantly tried God’s patience with their rebellious spirit, often foraying into idolatry and disobedience. However, God continued to be patient with them, and to fulfill all of His promises to them until He, finally, in His patience and mercy, unfolded the “new” covenant for them and all mankind in Jesus Christ.
Considering this, it is no wonder that Paul says in the great 13th chapter of I Corinthians, “Love is patient”, and John has told us that “God is love”. Did you not realize that patience is a reflection of love, and therefore, it is becoming more like God? What an awesome goal this magnificent characteristic presents. Every Christian should be strongly motivated to try and develop patience. It is not only a lofty goal but a great blessing to the one who, with the help of the presence of Jesus, is able to grow more patient every day. May God help us all to strive to travel this road to glory and to God.
As we continue our study of “patience” let us realize that it is only
possible to achieve it if we try hard to develop the three Christian characteristics which precede it. First, our lifetime goal and motivator should be “virtue”, which means a solid determination to do what is right, no matter what the cost. Then, if we are going to always do what is right, we must have “knowledge” of what is right. That means we must increase our knowledge of the will of God, for that is all that is right. The third characteristic that must precede patience is “temperance”, and this simply means self-control. My reaction to every situation I face and every person I encounter must be determined not by the situation or the person, but by my own standards of right. I must be in control of “me”, so that nothing I face can change my motivating factor to do what is right. I must always think, “What would Jesus do, and what is the will of God?” When I can do that, I have the wonderful characteristic of “self-control”, or “temperance”.
With these three characteristics firmly in hand, I am ready to strive to achieve “patience”. Our study will continue next week, as the Lord wills!