Monday, November 9, 2009

Prayer for Longsuffering, Part II 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 the saints in light:"

Knowledge of God Through Obedience to His Precepts

Finally, a still closer connection may be seen in linking the closing clause of verse 10 with what follows in verse 11: 'increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness'.  This will be the more apparent as we bear in mind the particular kind of 'knowledge of God' which is spoken of here: not one that is obtained by theological study and reasoning, nor even by meditative devotions, but rather one which is acquired through obedience to His precepts.  The order of the Greek - 'increasing in the knowledge of God: with all might being strengthened' - makes this still clearer: the latter follows upon the former.

Those who have schooled themselves to heed God's commandments will find it far easier than others do to submit themselves to His providential will.  those who have lived to please God rather than themselves are the ones least likely to be stumbled by afflictions, and are the last to sink in despair under them.  Those who are zealous of good works will possess their souls with patience in adversity and cheerfully endure when the enemy rages against them.

We are the losers if we do not pay the closest attention to the order of the petitions in the prayers of the apostle and the relation of one petition to the other; for we not only fail to perceive their real import but miss valuable lessons for our spiritual lives.  those who cursorily scan them instead of giving them prolonged meditation rob their own souls.  Many Christians bemoan their lack of 'patience' under affliction.  These must be startled if not staggered by weighing this expression, 'longsuffering with joyfulness'.  Yet how few of them are aware of the reason why they are strangers to such an experience.  That cause is here plainly revealed: it is due to the fact that they have been so little 'strengthened with all might according to his glorious power'.  And that, in turn, is because they have 'increased' so little 'in the knowledge of God', i.e., that personal proving of the goodness, the acceptableness, and the perfection of the will of God (Rom. 12:1), which is obtained through obediently walking with Him, making a point of pleasing Him in all things, and 'being fruitful in every good work.'  Failure in the practical side of our Christian lives explains why our 'experience' is so unsatisfactory.

'Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness' (verse 11).  It will appear to some of our readers that we are drawing out this series to a wearisome length, but others will be thankful to find in them something more profitable than the brief and superficial generalizations which characterize most of the religious literature of this day.  Our aim in them is to not only furnish bare expositions of the passages before us but to foster a spirit of devotion and provide that which will be of practical use in the daily life of the Christian.  Take this present verse as an example.  It is indeed important that the reader should obtain a correct idea of the terms used in it, yet he needs much more than that.  To supply a full and lucid definition of what 'patience' is, and then to exhort one who is in acutely trying circumstances to exercise that grace, will be of little real help.  To tell him to pray for an increase of it is saying nothing more than he already knows.  but to point out how patience is worked and increased in us, what are the means for the development of it and the things which hinder - in short, what God requires from us in order to increase its growth - will surely be more to the point.

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