2 Peter 1:5-7
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;…

Patience is, in the estimation of some, a mere rudge among the virtues. In Scripture she is a queen, magnanimous and dignified. How it is and why it is that the disciples of temperance or self-restraint are immediately commended to the cultivation of a gentle and forbearing spirit, will, as we think, appear if we but advert to the petulance which all rigorous and abstinent self-control is apt to foster. Thus, during the great fast of the Mohammedans, the Ramadan, observed by severe abstinence from food through all the hours of daylight, travellers have noted the querulous spirit that seems for the time to reign through a Turkish city. A recent British missionary speaks of the devotees of Hindooism, whose austerities are most rigid, and who proclaim superiority to all passion, as being notorious for "a general irritability." The ascetic, of all times and of all forms of faith, has been subject, and not without some plausibility, to the imputation of sourness.


1. The patience of the disciple of Jesus is not stoical apathy, nor acquired or affected obduracy to all physical suffering.

2. Nor, much less, is Christian patience a meek indifference to all error and wickedness in the world around us. The standard of Christian piety adopted by some, which is all softness and repose, would have no room for men like the lion-hearted Knox who did, under God, so thorough and good a work before a licentious court, and a frowning nobility, and a raging priesthood, for the Scottish nation. Patience shines forth in such a spirit at such a time triumphant. It is the patience that dares brave all anger, and loss, and suffering; but that dares not sacrifice truth or duty, or make the fear of God to bend to the fear of man.

II. WHAT THEN IS CHRISTIAN PATIENCE? We understand by it "a calm endurance of evil for God's sake." Now, evil is both physical and moral. Physical evil includes pain, want, disease, and death; moral, errors, sorrows of soul, and wickedness in all its varying shades, and in all its hideous shapes. Taken in this largest sense, patience includes the grace of meekness, from which, however, in other portions of Scripture, it is distinguished. Meekness is the quiet endurance of wrong from man, and patience is the endurance of woe appointed of God. But in our text we suppose the word patience to include both meekness and patience strictly so called. It is the quiet endurance of evil for God's sake. That it is endured, implies that the evil is not self-invented and self-inflicted. If the physical evil be the effect of our own utter neglect, the passive endurance of it is not sufficient to make the sufferer a patient Christian in the truest sense of those terms. Against moral evil it must bear patiently its bold protest; but the want of immediate effect to that protest, and the presence of that evil in the world, and its temporary triumph, must not shake the Christian's patient reliance on the wisdom and justice of the Divine Providence. For Christian patience is essentially hopeful. It must quietly wait for the salvation of God. So is it also in the New Testament represented as bound up with Christian diligence or industry. The Bible tells us of "patient continuance in well-doing," and sends the pleader of the promises and the keeper of God's precepts to learn of the husbandman, who, having sown the seed, must have long patience for the harvest. We have seen its needfulness to fill out Christian temperance.


1. Ours is a day of religious effort for reform at home and evangelisation abroad. Look at the need of patience to preserve the spirit of the labourers in working order, and to render their endeavours successful. Mackintosh praises Wilberforce as being a model reformer, because of his immovable sweetness, as well as his inflexible persistency. But many good men assay, without this patient sweetness, to reform others by the virtual tyranny of harsh and unreasoning criminations. They resort to moral coercion where they should use moral suasion.

2. Again, as a preservative of faith and knowledge and godliness, patience is indispensable. It was said by the illustrious philosopher Newton, that if he had accomplished anything in science, it had been "by dint of patient thought." The believer in Scripture who would feed, from its full pages, his faith and knowledge and piety into richer development and greater vigour, must be patient in searching, patient in pondering and comparing, and patient in praying over those sacred lines.

3. Again, virtue and godliness and charity, all practical Christian excellences, need patience for their development. "Confidence," said a British statesman, "is a plant of slow growth." True, consistent piety is also such, and needs long and meek study of God's providence and Word to refine and perfect it. Carey said, modestly, in his old age, when his grammars and versions of Holy Scripture were almost a library in themselves, "I can do one thing — I can plod." Men, families, nations, have pined and dwindled because they could not plod. In the soul's struggle heavenward we do well to recollect that he "who endureth to the end shall be saved, and that by faith and patience we inherit the promises.

IV. LET US NOW CONSIDER THE MOTIVES THAT SHOULD PERSUADE US TO BE PATIENT AS CHRISTIANS. For as patience includes meekness under wrongs of our fellow-men, we must forgive or we may not hope ourselves before God to be forgiven. As patience includes submission to the Divine appointments, let us remark that our trials are lessened by serene meekness and resignation. God lightens and removes them more early, and they do not so deeply wound and empoison the soul. We are to remember, too, the necessity of this grace to success and influence with our fellow-men. It is the patient perseverance in well-doing that builds up consistency, and influence, and weight of character. We are, again, all to remember our own unworthiness before God, and our liability to pay ten thousand talents, ere, in our fretfulness, we chide man harshly, or murmur bitterly against our God and His providence. Nor is it unfitting that we remember how much of mercy and kindness there is in God's allotments.


1. By the study of Scripture. We see there glorious examples and inspiriting promises, and the most solemn warnings, and the most apposite models and precepts.

2. Let us pray. Does the spirit in us lust to envy? And would envy swell into wrath, or blasphemy, or murder? The apostle's reply is, "He," our God, "giveth more grace." And He gives it in answer to prayer. The apostles when bidden by their Lord often to forgive the offending and injurious, prayed, "Lord, increase our faith." Repeat the petition. For its teacher yet lives to be its answerer.

3. Above all, be in communion, much and habitually, with Christ.

(W. R. Williams.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

WEB: Yes, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence; and in moral excellence, knowledge;

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