2 Peter 1:5-7
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;…
I. THE ELEMENTS OF A TRUE CHRISTIAN PATIENCE. The literal meaning of ὑπομονή is "remaining behind," or "remaining in the house"; i.e., abiding — das zuruckbleiben, zuhausebleiben (Passow). Hence constancy, stability, steadiness. "Our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding" (1 Chronicles 29:15). The Septuagint here uses ὑπομονή to denote stability, the opposite of that which is transitory and fleeting. In the text De Wette renders ὑπομονη by Standhaftigkeit, steadfastness. It is something more than submissiveness, by which Isaac Taylor defines it. Patientia denotes the quality of bearing or enduring. Cicero applies it to the endurance of hunger and cold. In analysing patience into its elements we must view it both upon the negative and the positive side.
1. Patience does not imply a want of sensibility to suffering, sorrow, or wrong. A North American Indian would think it unmanly or cowardly to betray a consciousness of pain, to utter a cry or shed a tear for any physical suffering. We may not seek for patience in an insensibility to suffering, whether natural or forced, nor in a sullen disregard of personal consequences in carrying out some proposed end or meeting an imagined fate.
2. And here we may note more particularly that patience does not argue indifference to the issue of the trials or labours which are upon us. The mind will forecast its own future, will have hopes, will have fears, will have a choice as to events affecting its own happiness; no logic or philosophy or schooling can destroy these essential qualities of the human soul; take away these, and man ceases to be a man. He who professes not to be troubled about events because he does not care what happens is not an example of the patient man. The true patient man does care what happens. The care-nothing spirit is not true Christian patience.
3. Neither is a do-nothing spirit to be identified with patience. There are times when patience counsels to inaction, when "the strength of Israel is to sit still." But this patience of waiting is not the inaction of sluggishness nor of despondency. It is a watchful inaction, like-that of men sleeping upon their arms, with their camp-fires always lighted and the sentinels at their posts. The shipwrecked mariner in an open boat without oar or sail has nothing to do but wait for the appearance of relief. But if he has a compass and a paddle and knows himself to be within a hundred miles of land, then patience will be shown not in idle waiting or in praying for some chance relief, but in working on without murmuring and without despair, though the hand is weary and the head is faint, and neither sun nor star appears over the waste of waters.Viewed, then, positively patience requires —
1. The consciousness of a right intent. This removes from within all disturbing causes which might irritate and unsettle the mind, and enables us to commit our way to the Lord in confidence. We shall grow patient under trials in proportion as we grow unselfish. And so too of labours; if we enter upon these with a pure intent, if we rise above all selfish feeling to the grandeur of working for mankind and for God, then shall we hold on by the attraction of the work itself, never ruffled by opposition nor disheartened by difficulty. Hence the exercise of a true Christian patience demands a conscience void of offence towards man and God.
2. The exercise of Christian patience demands implicit confidence in God and in our cause as approved by Him. Patience and faith go hand in hand. The main element in patience is Christian submission to the will of God. This rests upon confidence as its basis — confidence in the wisdom, the power, and the love of God.
3. Patience must have in it the element of hope. Patience is incompatible with despair. Patience under trial expects God's appearing. Patience in labour awaits God's help. The virtue of patience, by reason of its quiet and retiracy, commands but little notice and admiration from men. Men do not lay the stress of greatness upon the passive virtues.
II. THE PLACE AND VALVE OF PATIENCE IN THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER.
1. This virtue of patience we need in all our labours for the cause of Christ and the good of men. In working against evil we are prone either to irritation or to despondency. Our weak natures are annoyed by the opposition we encounter in a good cause.
2. We need this patience under the afflictions and wrongs which we personally suffer — afflictions at the hand of God, persecution, calumny, wrong from our fellow-men. How sweet is patience under the hand of God! It is like sunlight and flowers in the chamber of sickness. But it is easier to bear great and prolonged afflictions which come directly and visibly from the hand of God than the petty vexations and wrongs which arise from untoward circumstances and evil men. Great occasions rally great principles and brace the mind to a lofty bearing, a bearing that is even above itself. But trials that make no occasion at all leave it to show the goodness and beauty it has in its own disposition.
3. We need patience with respect to the fulfilling of God's plans of mercy for the world. God's promises are like century plants. They grow silently, almost imperceptibly, through wind and storm, by day and night, and year by year.
(Joseph P. Thompson.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;