Vol.V No.II Pg.5
April 1968

The Need For Patience

Robert F. Turner

Jesus told His disciples, "In your patience possess ye your souls." Is there something here for me? (Lu. 21:19)

To "possess" here means to "gain" or to "win"; and refers to the preservation or saving of the soul. In the immediate context it may have reference to escaping alive out of the destruction of Jerusalem, for that was under direct consideration. But careful study of the word "patience" will convince us that this is essential to the building of character and eventual salvation of the soul in eternity.

"Patience" gives many the idea of repose; calmly, even phlegmatically waiting for the traffic light to turn green. But this is not its real meaning. Coming from a word meaning "to abide under" it more nearly corresponds to "steadfastness" or "endurance"; or our coined word "stickability." In the larger sense, we can save our souls only by being faithful to the death. (Rev. 2:10)

Patience is a virtue, added to our character as we grow spiritually. (2 Pet. 1:5-11) It must be developed, built up and strengthened; and this requires exercise. Our physical muscles will not develop properly unless pitted against opposition. We improve flabby muscles by lifting weights, knowing that as we overcome an opposing force we prepare to meet greater future obstacles. Patience needs much the same sort of exercise.

"Consider it a joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials; knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking in nothing." (Jas. 1:2-4, NAS) These verses refer not to the temptations that are due to man's own lust but to external trials that discourage, dismay and buffet us. And they affect not a fixed, unchanging truss, that bears a weight or is broken under it, with character unaltered; but these trials affect a living, pulsing, vital faith; that is made stronger, more mature in nature and character, as its sinews flex to meet the challenges of life.

Patience is not the brute strength to "take" punishment, nor a "thick skin" that may indicate only an insensitive nature. "For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God." (1 Pet. 2:20)

When our sense of justice is outraged; when we are reviled, and our instinct leaps to fight a carnal battle, then patience is taxed. Remember, "hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps." (1 Pet. 2:21-25)

By "patient continuance in well doing" we shall find eternal life. We must "hear the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience." It is with patience we must "run -- the race that is set before us." (Rom. 2:7; Lu. 8:15; Heb. 12:1)

How challenging the words, "IN YOUR PATIENCE POSSESS YE YOUR SOULS."