Thoughts on the Way Home

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Growth and Patience

Growth and Patience

J.O. Fraser commenting on the patience required to see growth in the Christian life:

"Preparation, delay, and growth are characteristic of God's working both in history and in nature. Scripture and the facts of nature meet when James, exhorting us to patience, says: "The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it" [5:7, A.S.V]. The same principle applies to our own spiritual lives, and to our labor in the Lord. A mature Christian is not the product of a day or a month or a year. "It takes time," said the late Dr. Andrew Murray, "to grow into Christ." We must strike our roots down deep in the soil of the Word and be strengthened by long, long experience. It is a slow process, and it is right that it should be so: God does not want us to be spiritual mushrooms. It is true that in the Lord's work there is a place for haste - the King's business requires it (there is a right and a wrong hast). And there is assuredly a place for diligence, for earnestness. James Gilmour said he did not think we could be too earnest in a matter for which Christ was so much in earnest that He laid down His life. You know it was said of Alleine that he was insatiable greedy for souls. While it is day we cannot but be up and doing to the limit of the strength which God supplies. But the element of corroding care will enter into Christian work if we let it, and it will not help but hinder. We cannot press souls into the kingdom of Heaven; neither, when they are once converted, can we worry them into maturity; we cannot by taking thought add a cubit to our own spiritual stature or to anyone else's. The plants of our heavenly Father's planting will grow better under His open sky than in the hot-houses of our feverish effort. It is for us to water, and to water diligently, but we cannot give the increase, however hard we try. An abnormally rapid growth is often unnatural and unhealthy: the quick growth spoken of in Matthew 13:5 is actually said to be a sign of its being ephemeral.

In the biography of our Lord nothing is more noticeable than the quiet, even poise of His life. Never flustered whatever happened, never taken off guard however assailed by men or demons - in the midst of fickle people, hostile rulers, faithless disciples, He was always calm, always collected. Christ the hard worker indeed - but doing no more and no less than God had appointed Him, and with no restlessness, no hurry, no worry. Was ever such a peaceful life lived under conditions so perturbing?

But we also, as He, are working for eternity and in eternity (eternity has already commenced for us). We can afford, then, to work in the atmosphere of eternity. The rush and the bustle of carnal activity breathe a spirit of restlessness. The Holy Spirit breathes a deep calm. This is the atmosphere in which we may expect a lasting work of God to grow. Let us take care first of all that it is a work of God - begun and continued in God - and then let us cast our anxieties, our fears, and our impatience to the winds. Let us shake off "dull sloth" on the one hand and feverishness on the other. A gourd may spring up in a night, but not an oak. The current may be flowing deep and strong in spite of ripples and countercurrents on the surface. And even when it receives a temporary setback from the incoming tide of evil, we may yet learn to say, as Jeremiah once said under the most distressing circumstances, "It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord."