Patient Endurance—The Final Test

“Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” —James 1:4

THE SCRIPTURES EVERYWHERE represent patience as an important element of character. In every phase of human experience we can see its need. To be just and fair in our dealings with others under present conditions, we must be patient, not rash; for it would be injurious to be impatient and severe with the unavoidable imperfections and weaknesses of our fellowman. Therefore, the spirit of a sound mind demands that we be forbearing in dealing with fallen humanity.

God himself possesses this quality of patience, and has long exercised it. In dealing with the world in the next age, the church will need to have much patience, and under our present environment we need it constantly in order to develop the character necessary for a place on the throne with our Lord.

Patience is closely allied to love and mercy. If God were unloving, he would be without patience. In man’s present blemished, fallen condition, patience is sadly lacking, although it is often exercised outwardly for policy’s sake. This Godlike quality, just as all the other qualities of character inherent in God and in all perfect beings created in his likeness, has been largely obliterated in humanity by the fall of the first pair.

In the New Testament there are two Greek words translated patience. One of these words signifies forbearance, long-suffering. The other carries the thought of cheerful or hopeful endurance. The latter is the word used in our text, and has a much deeper significance than attaches ordinarily to our word patience. This constancy—the endurance of evil in a cheerful, willing manner—represents an element of character, and not merely a temporary restraint of feeling or of action. It signifies a development of heart and character which manifests itself in an endurance of wrong or affliction with contentment, without rebellion of will, with full acquiescence in the requirement of Divine wisdom and love, which, while permitting present evils has promised in due time to overthrow them.

It will surely be profitable for us to cultivate carefully this element of Christian character of which our Lord speaks in such high commendation, and without which, his Word assures us, our character cannot be perfected. The Christian requires patient endurance to put on the whole armor of God, and having put it on, to keep it securely buckled.

We need it in dealing not only with others, but also with ourselves, with our own blemishes. We should always take into account the various circumstances and conditions surrounding ourselves and others. As we look around we see that the world is in a condition of blight, of sin. This knowledge should give us great sympathy with humanity, without which we would have but little patience. All of our brethren in Christ, like ourselves, are by nature members of this fallen human race. Therefore, we should have a great deal of patient endurance with the Lord’s people, as we would have them exercise this grace toward us.


As the quality of justice will always endure, so will the quality of patience, though not in the sense of patient endurance of evil. God patiently works out his own glorious designs, in perfect balance. At present this requires the exercise of patient endurance with evil, sinful conditions; and in the ages of glory to come God will, we believe, still work out his purposes in perfect patience.

But in the exercise of patience under present evil conditions, wisdom must have a voice. God has declared that in his wisdom the time will come when he will cease to exercise patience toward the world. That is to say, he will no longer bear with the world in their present sinful, imperfect condition. That time has almost arrived. The great cataclysm of trouble, now about due, will sweep away the entire present order preparatory to the establishment of the kingdom of God under the whole heavens. Then God will give men the fullest opportunity of coming into harmony with himself and righteousness before he will deal with them summarily.

The time is coming when there will be no more sin and God will have a perfect universe. But he will first give everybody an opportunity to walk up the “highway … of holiness” to perfection. (Isa. 35:8) Then God’s patience and long-suffering will cease to be a necessity toward such. God’s patience has arranged the thousand years of Messiah’s reign for man’s blessing, and his wisdom has decided that those thousand years will be sufficient for the elimination of evil.


Referring to the word ‘patience’ as used in our text, we note in our Lord’s parable of the sower how our Lord said, “That which fell … on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:14,15) The thought here is that to be of the fruitbearing class which the Lord will approve and accept in his kingdom we must do more than to receive the Word of his testimony, even though we receive it with joy. Those of the ‘stony ground’ class (vs. 13) first received the Word with joy. For a brief time these seemed to give evidence of fruitfulness and vigor; but when the hot sun of persecution arose, they withered away because of lack and depth of soil.

In this parable, the Lord shows that patient endurance, or constancy, is the final test of character. After the ground has received the seed and it has sprouted, and the fruits of love, hope, joy, and faith have been brought forth, patient endurance then is necessary in order that the fruit may be developed and thoroughly ripened, and so that the grain may be made ready for the garner.

How important this grace is seen to be in the light of God’s Word! We must remember that the endurance must be cheerful. We cannot suppose that he who judges the thoughts and intents of the heart would be pleased with his children, even when he sees them bearing much for his sake, if they endured it in an impatient, dissatisfied, or unhappy frame of mind. Those who would thus endure surely would not be copies of God’s dear Son, whose sentiment found expression in the words, “I delight to do thy will, O my God!”—Ps. 40:8

All of the royal priesthood are sacrificers, as was our great Chief Priest; and God, who accepts our sacrifices through the merit of our dear Redeemer, informs us that he loves a cheerful giver (II Cor. 9:7)—one who performs his sacrifices gladly, with a willing heart. This does not mean that our bodies will never grow weary; but that our spirit will rejoice in the privilege of suffering weariness of the flesh in so noble and wonderful a service. But if our Father should see best to lay us aside from active work for a time, when our hearts are longing to serve, this, too, will be an opportunity to endure cheerfully, carrying out his will for us. It may also be a test of the full submission of our wills to his, and thus be an important stepping-stone upward toward the kingdom glories and privileges.

The other instance in which our Lord used this word, patience, or patient endurance, is recorded in Luke 21:19. He had just been telling his followers that they must expect tribulations as the result of being his disciples during the present time when sin abounds, when Satan is the ‘prince of this world’. They must expect opposition from various quarters; but he assured them that, nevertheless, they would be fully under Divine care and protection even though persecutions would be permitted to reach and to affect them. Then followed the words, “In your patience [patient endurance, cheerful constancy] possess ye your souls.”

Our faith and trust in the Lord and his gracious promises should be so strong and unwavering that they will far more than counterbalance the opposition of the world, of false brethren, and of Satan’s blinded servants. So implicit should be our faith in our Father’s love and care that all these persecutions will be recognized and rejoiced in as the agencies of his providence in chiseling, shaping and polishing us as living stones for the glorious temple which he is constructing, and which is now so soon to be set up.

Viewing our trials from this standpoint, we can, indeed, rejoice and can possess our souls, our lives, as New Creatures, even amid tribulations, with cheerful endurance. Yea, we may realize that the soul, the real being, to whom God has given the “exceeding great and precious promises” (II Pet. 1:4) of the future, cannot be injured by the persecutions of the flesh.


Let us here examine carefully the reason why it is necessary for us to develop this grace of patient endurance. It appears that the development of this quality is one of the conditions which God had attached to the call to joint-heirship with our Lord in the kingdom, and one of the same conditions required of him. The wisdom of this is manifest when we consider the work to which the church is called—the work of blessing all the families of the earth in God’s Millennial kingdom, in joint-heirship with the only begotten Son of God, our great Redeemer.

That will be a mighty work; and it is eminently proper that Jehovah should require that those whom he shall account worthy of that exalted position shall not only appreciate his goodness and his glorious character, and prefer his service rather than to serve sin and iniquity, but demonstrate their thorough loyalty to the principles of righteousness and to his will to the extent of a joyful willingness to suffer on behalf of these principles. A transitory endurance of one or two or three brief trials would not prove the individual to have an established character for righteousness; but a patient, cheerful endurance even unto death would be necessary to demonstrate such a character.—Rev. 2:10

We might illustrate this with the diamond. Suppose that we were able to make diamonds out of some plastic material with the brilliancy of the real diamond; and suppose they became hard, but not so hard as the genuine diamond. Would these imitation diamonds have the value of the true diamond? By no means. If they were subjected to severe pressure, they would be crushed. And so with the Christian. One might possess every grace of character save this one of patient endurance or constancy, yet he would not be qualified to be one of the Lord’s jewels. Hence we see the necessity of the Lord’s demand that patient, cheerful endurance shall be a characteristic of each one who shall be accepted to a place in his royal diadem.

The importance of this quality in the Christian character is again emphasized by the Apostle Paul. When enumerating the character qualities of an advanced Christian he declares that they must be “vigilant, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience.” (Tit. 2:2, American Revised Version) The final test of patient endurance must be passed before we can be accepted as of the very elect.

The same Apostle in writing to Timothy reminds him: “Thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity [love], patience.” (II Tim. 3:10) We need this important grace more and more as we speed along on our racecourse, and near the end of the way. Feet grow weary; trials and testings abound; therefore, we need to “gird up the loins of your [our] mind” (I Pet. 1:13), and looking to our great Exemplar for the needed inspiration and strength, to set our faces like flint for the homestretch.


Our ability and strength to patiently endure should increase as we progress in the narrow way. We should grow “strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” (Eph. 6:10) But we cannot possibly develop this essential trait of character without trials—experiences intended to call for the exercise of cheerful endurance. So, let us not think it strange if we are called upon to pass through protracted trials which prepare us for a place in the kingdom. Let us repeat that the virtue is not merely the bearing of trials, but it is particularly the manner in which we endure. At heart we must be sweet and submissive—in the fullest harmony with the Lord’s process of development. This may be hard at times; but his grace will be sufficient, if we constantly apply for it. “Having done all,” let us “stand!”—Eph. 6:13

We now see a new reason for the Lord’s arrangement that we should have our trial as our Master had his—in an evil environment—that we might not only have all the necessary qualities of Christian character but have them rooted, grounded, fixed, established.

The Apostle James likewise draws our attention to the importance of this quality. He says, “The trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1:3) That is to say, if our faith stands the trial, it will work out in our character this patient endurance. On the other hand, if we do not attain this development, it will mean that our faith has not stood the test satisfactorily, and that we are not fit for the kingdom. Thus we see clearly what a great mistake has been made among Christian people in general in supposing that religion is a thing to be gotten suddenly as an answer to prayer. On the contrary, the step of repentance from sin is only the beginning, and not the end, of the Christian way. The next step is consecration of ourselves and our all to God. But this also is far from the end. Not only must we go on to the attainment of faith, fortitude, self-control, meekness and love, but having attained all these, we must patiently endure. We must “run with patience [cheerful endurance] the race set before us” (Heb. 12:1), and to be taught of the Lord.


The church of the Philadelphia period (Rev. 3:7-13) was promised by the Lord that because of their faithfulness, because they had “kept the Word of my patience” (Rev. 3:10), they should be kept from “the hour of temptation,” which was to come upon all the world. The church of Laodicea—the church of our day—is not kept from the ‘hour of temptation’, but we may be sure that we will be kept while in it, if we are faithful and true. Our dear Lord’s special message to the Laodicean period of the church has been, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne.”—Rev. 3:20,21

Though we are not spared from this ‘hour of temptation’, we have a counterbalancing blessing as a result of living in the time of our Lord’s presence (Greek: parousia). We have his dispensing to us of spiritual food, “meat in due season” (Matt. 24:45), in a manner and to a degree never before enjoyed by his people. And, as we might expect, this great favor is counterbalanced by the subtle and severe trials and testings of this special hour of temptation. If there was ever a time when patient endurance was needed by the Lord’s faithful, it is now. If ever they needed the counsel, “In your patience possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:19), they need it now. Those who are able to patiently endure will stand in this evil day. As the apostle forewarned us, the fiery ordeals of this day will “try every man’s work of what sort it is.”—I Cor. 3:13

There is a general tendency of the civilized world today toward impatience, and rebellion against restraint. For those who are seeking to walk in the narrow way, only by Divine grace can this tendency be successfully resisted, and progress be made toward the development of the likeness of Christ. This special grace needed today by the Lord’s children will be granted to those who are walking close to the Lord, following in the footsteps of Jesus.

This spirit of impatience so prevalent in the world today is at the bottom of much of the violence we see in the news media as outbreaks against law and order. We may expect this spirit to continue to grow. There is a feeling among many of the downtrodden in the third world nations that they have been too patient, not sufficiently aggressive—the feeling that if they had taken things into their own hands long ago present conditions might have been averted. This has brought them to the verge of anarchy.

But those who have kept the Lord’s Word of patient endurance have sought from him the wisdom from on high, which is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits.” (James 3:17,18) These have learned that he has a due time in which his purposes will be accomplished, and they are willing to bide his time patiently, knowing that he knows best. Thus they are able to avoid the devilish wisdom that causes envying and strife.—James 3:14,15

The apostle counsels us respecting this ‘hour of temptation’ which is now upon us. Its besetments and trials will be many, and some of them will be subtle and deceptive. All who are not thoroughly rooted and grounded in the truth will be carried away by the false arguments of those whom Satan is now permitted to use as his agents in trying all those who dwell upon the face of the whole earth.


The hour of trial is not coming alike upon all. These tests upon the Christian world and the world in general, however, are mentioned by the Apostle Paul writing to Timothy, where he enumerates certain characteristics of this ‘hour of temptation’. He says, “Mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power.”—II Tim. 3:1-5, New International Version

This is a graphic picture of conditions in the world today. As Paul wrote in another place, “Because they received not the love of the truth” therefore God has sent them a “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie,” and should be condemned thereby. (II Thess. 2:10-12) This ‘hour of temptation’ has not yet reached its greatest intensity. Blessed are all they who have made the Lord, “even the Most High,” their habitation. (Ps. 91:9) These shall not be moved (Ps. 46:5) although many will have to pass through severe trials and temptations.

Let us all be very solicitous for one another, counting the prize held out as far dearer and more precious than all else beside. “Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you [us] should seem to come short of it.” (Heb. 4: 1) Let us so love the Lord’s dear children that their welfare will be one of our chief concerns, and this will contribute to our own spiritual health.

Let us patiently hold to the blessed narrow way! Do with your might what your hands find to do, for soon the harvest will end. If faithful, we shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of our Father! Let us come with rejoicing, bringing in our sheaves, remembering that we have need of patience, that after we have done the will of God, we might receive the promise!—Matt. 13:43; Heb. 10:36

Dawn Bible Students Association
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