Friday, April 14, 2006

Learning to be Patient

This is my personal summary of the expository preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on James 5:7-11 on 9 April 2006

After rebuking the rich, James talks about patience. The organic relationship between the two themes is that we are often impatient because we are anxious of the rich. Patience is greatness as it takes a lot more effort and character to be patient than to be offensive. It is an expression of Christian courage as it is able to face disasters and withstand persecution. Jesus is the greatest example. He did not take any arms on earth but took all the sufferings. Not only was He not angry, but He expressed Himself as the Mediator to ask for forgiveness of those who offended Him.

Traditional theology talks about four sources of sufferings:

- Fallen world where thorns and thistles will become part of our natural problems. In this we need to learn to submit.
- Personal sins. We have to repent.
- Others and evil men who harm us. We need to learn wisdom to escape from them.
- Satan’s attack. We need to rely on God even more.

Victory comes when we understand the meaning and value of our sufferings. In Romans 5:3-5 Paul talks about our joy in sufferings because of our sure hope. So it is not the issue of solving our sufferings but it is more of how we understand the value of what we are going through.

Sufferings and wrong understanding of sufferings need to be separated. Is our sense of suffering a matter of degree or illusion? Often we are deceived by our feelings. We are so driven by our feelings so we have no freedom. Freedom is not in following our feelings but is in the Truth. The Truth sets us free.

We often want to be the master of our time which results in a frightening psychology that wants to be in control of everything. We cannot wait and want to force God to follow our will and timing. But there is a season for everything. Our impatience will not advance anything. If we do not learn to wait, we will fail all our lives.

Until when should we be patient? James says in verse 7 “until the Lord comes.” This is a very ‘cruel’ thing because we can never know when. It can be a lifetime or even beyond our life. It has been 2000 years since Christians waited for the Lord's second coming. Isn't it too much to ask us to be patient till the Lord comes? Well, if we are not waiting for Him to come back, what else are we waiting for? Is our hope in this world?

The End of the world is when Jesus comes back. The Bible says the Lord's coming is near. We can see this from two aspects:

Firstly, the world's history is at its last phase. No matter how long this last phase is, it is still the last phase and so the world is coming to an end.

Secondly, although we might not wait until that day, we will still have to account to God quite soon. The longest is our lifetime. And the outcome of our eternal destiny at the end of our life will be the same as the outcome when Jesus comes back the second time. After our death, no matter how much time elapse until Jesus’ second coming, there is nothing else we can do to alter the outcome.

The judges in the world might judge wrongly. But God will not judge wrongly. Romans 2:4 says His kindness is meant to lead us to repentance so we should not despise His patience. God is slow to anger but in the end He will come and judge righteously. The day will come when we will tremble before Him. Knowing the final Judgment will come, we should not be anxious when treated wrongly. Seeing so many injustices in the world and knowing the coming Judgment, we learn to be patient. It is in this solid foundation that our patience is built.

By the eyes of faith, we can see that our Lord's coming is near. Phil.4:5 says to let our gentleness be known to all because the Lord is near. Since we know that the grand event is coming, we should not be anxious and fighting over trivial issues. Our gentleness shows our eternal hope.

Many people instead are just jealous of those who are successful but never learn to see behind their jealousy how these people probably have persevered to achieve the success they have today. Comparison is a disease among us. We need to learn to turn all our grumbles in to thanksgiving and praise, our judgmental spirit into encouragement.

If we have a willing heart, every cross will be easier to bear. We often think it is too much because we feel too much. If we are willing because of love, it will be light. Suffering + willingness becomes enjoyment. But a little labor + unwillingness are hell.


At 12:03 AM, Anonymous Yuly said...

Hello Mejlina, I have been waiting for your update these past couple days. Finally you had it up today! I am amazed how coincidence the topic is with my situation. I just had my impatience out, half an hour ago... even though I was right, the other person was wrong (for not following to what we've agreed on & caused us both to fall into trouble), yet for my part, I realize I need to be more patient & forgiving. "The Judge is standing at the door." I will keep that in mind.

At 12:21 AM, Blogger Mejlina Tjoa said...

Hi Yuly! It's very heartening to know that you are encouraged by the transcripts. Yeah as I typed I am also reminded to learn patience.

Initially I put up the notes only as a personal blogging habit, but later on I realize that many actually get blessings from this. So I need to pay more attention to this. :) Do comment/feedback whenever you have constructive input so that I can improve & do my job better.

Yeah this week is a bit late because I intentionally want the announcement of the gospel rally to remain as the last post until today (Good Friday) so that more people are informed of the service.


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