Sunday, November 8, 2009

Prayer for Longsuffering, Part I of X

"Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of saints in light:"

'Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness' (verse 11).  This is the third petition of the prayer, and we will begin our remarks upon it by pointing out its relation to those preceding it, particularly verse 10 ["that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;"].  First, it seems to us that whereas verse 10 treats more of the active side of the Christian life, verse 11 has more definitely in view its passive side.  Or, to express it in another way, whereas the former intimates the use we should make of communicated grace in a way of doing, this teaches us how to improve that grace in a way of suffering.  And is not this usually the order in which divine providence affords the saint occasion to discharge each of those responsibilities?  When the Christian is young and vigorous, those graces which are expressed in the performing of good works are afforded their fullest opportunity.  But as natural strength and youthful zeal abate, as trials and infirmities increase, there is a call for another set of graces to be exercised, namely, patience and long-suffering.  Even in old age, or even while lying upon a bed of sickness and helplessness, the Christian walks worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing if he meekly bears his appointed lot and does not murmur.  And certainly he is bearing fruit to the glory of God if he endures his trials cheerfully and is 'longsuffering with joyfulness'.

The Consequence of 'Walking Worthy of the Lord'

But we may trace a yet closer relation between the two verses.  If by grace the child of God is enabled to walk worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him well, being fruitful in every good work, what is certain to be the consequence?  He will not only increase in the practical knowledge of God but also incur the hatred of his fellowmen.  The closer he cleaves to the standard set before him, the more conscientious he is about wholly following the Lord, the more he will stir up the enmity of the flesh, the world, and the devil.  The more he endeavours to deny self and be out and out for Christ, the more opposition he will encounter, especially from those who profess but do not possess, who detest none so much as those whose uncompromising strictness exposes and condemns their vain pretensions.  Yes, young Christian, you must be fully prepared for this and expect nothing else.  The closer you walk with Christ the more you will be persecuted.  And what does such opposition, such hatred, such persecution and affliction call for from us?  What will enable us to stand our ground and keep us from lowering the banner?  What but being 'strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness?

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