Saturday, June 6, 2009
The New International Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary for the English Language defines patience as the exercise of sustained perseverance and the quality without complaint. The word itself has a deeper meaning. It is a word that originates from two words: patient and "ence." Patient means someone sick or under medical attention. The suffix "ence" is attached to the noun patient so as to make the word be either an adjective or a verb, depending on the context (convergence from converge).
In the bible the word patience (or any associated) word appears for not less than 40 times. Although the number of times this word appears in the Bible does not necessary point to its significant important, it is crucial that we examine the many instances this word is used and how we can apply it to our lives as we look forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is also in the Bible that we realize that having patience is rewarding while the opposite is also true. For the most part, the Bible calls us all to take the approach of patience if we are to receive great rewards.
One of the places we come across the word patience is in the book of Luke chapter 8 verse 15. Here Jesus gives the meaning of the parable of the sower. Jesus describes those seeds on the good ground as honest, good heart and that with patience they brought forth fruit. Although in the biggest picture of this context the seeds did not entirely depend on patience, it really played a big role in as far as bearing the fruit is concerned. In regard to this, it can be pointed that without patience the seeds could not have brought forth the fruits.
The following text talks about patience in a slightly unexpected reality. Romans chapter 15 verses 5, points out patience as one of the character traits of God. It elaborates that God is long suffering from our sins and that this is manifested in his grace, giving us a chance to repent and have the gift of the everlasting life. So even God, understands the painfulness of patience.2Corinthians (6v1, 12v12,) and Romans.
In our times, patience is a core virtue in any religion, be it Islam or Christianity. In the Bible one of the profound sections where this virtue is manifested is found in the story of Job. The plot of the book is that Job endures near-apocalyptic calamities without losing his patience or reproaching Divine Providence. The Book itself comprises a poem set in a prose framing device and has been called “the most profound and literary work of the entire Old Testament”. (John L. McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible, Simon & Schuster, 1965 p 440) Job was an extremely pious rich man who had ten children: seven sons and three daughters. Constantly fearing that his sons may have sinned and "cursed God in their hearts" he habitually offered burnt offerings as a pardon for their sins. To cut the story short, job lost all his possessions including all his children. Despite the calamities, Job resisted the temptation to curse God even with pressure from his own wife who prompted him to curse God. Instead Job, ask his wife if they should accept only good from God, and not trouble or both? The Bible says (in verses 12 of chapter 1) that God permitted Satan to test job. In the process Job also looses all his friends but three. After several rounds of debate between Job and his friends, in a divine voice, described as coming from a whirlwind, God describes, in evocative, what the experience of being the creator of the world is like, and asks if Job has ever had the experiences or the authority that God has had. God's answer underscores that Job shares the world with numerous powerful and remarkable creatures, creatures with lives and needs of their own, for whom God must provide, and the young of some hunger in a way that can only be satisfied by taking the lives of others. God's speech also emphasizes his sovereignty in creating and maintaining the world. The thrust is not merely that God has experiences that Job does not, but also that God is King over the world and is not necessarily subject to questions from his creatures, including men.
In the epilogue, God admonishes Job for his righteous words while condemning his friends for their ignorance and lack of understanding. Because of his patience, Job is rewarded eventually. God restores his health, doubles the riches he possessed before and gives him 7 sons and 3 daughters. According to the Bible, his new daughters were the most beautiful in the land, and were given inheritance along with their brothers. Job is blessed once again and lives on another 140 years after the ordeal, living to see his children to the fourth generation and dying peacefully of old age. What a payoff?
Just like Job, God is also promising to reward us if we have patience by enduring the pains and sufferings we face in witnessing about him. In Rev 3 verses 10, Jesus says as a result of being patient, he will protect us in the hour of temptation, which shall come upon the whole world, to try those that dwell on earth. Another great reward is promised in revelation 14 verses 12 and it reads, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Money and Contentment
I am just one of the many people that has always believed that, money is one of the major needs if not the most until I mediated on 1 Timothy 6 a few weeks ago. Most people need money although for different purpose and different amounts, with a common consensus of seeking more than what they already have if any. Whatever the case is, money has a great influence on our life style and living standard. Although it is clearly argued that money cannot buy ones happiness, the amount of money we have or make determines our close associates, it determines the order of recognition and a type of a seat you can get at a social gatherings such as sports events, funerals and weddings. Such is the power of money that for most people it is the only thing they need and yet are never content.
On the contrary, the Bible exhorts us that godliness with contentment is the greatest gain (1 Timothy 6 v 6). Of course there are some who might argue that we need money to complete Christ mission and claim that we are more justified to need more money now than ever before. Some may point at the church projects, money for relief and of course personal advancements. As I meditated on Paul’s first letter to Timothy chapter 6, I came along a number of striking points.
First it was verse 7 where it is well stated. He says and I quote, “for we brought nothing to this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out.” In my view, this suggests that money does not transcend earthly life neither does it encompass our existence in the world. We are created and sustained by the creator. A promise found in Isaiah 40 verse 28 & 29, “Have you not known, have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and those who have no might, he increases their strength.”
Second is verse 9 where it says the desire to amass money comes with temptation and snare, foolish and harmful lust, destruction and perdition. This ties in with verse 10 which says summarizes, declaring that the love of money is the root cause of all evil of evil and can lead us into faithless and sorrow.
In summary, The Apostle implies that our existence does not solely rely on money and that the love of it can lead us into sorrow and destruction. To me, the issues raised in this chapter are 100 percent relevant to this century(21st). At this stage we should pause and ask ourselves if we are contented with what we have in as far our money is concerned.