James 1:2-4(NKJV) 2My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
We have been looking at the characteristics that drew favor to Ruth. The final one we discussed was that Ruth had to wait in faith. Boaz assured her that he would take care of both her and Naomi and then sent her home. It was possible that he was simply trying to get rid of her. She had no assurance except Boaz’s word that he would do anything at all. She went home and, with Naomi’s word that Boaz was a man of integrity, she waited to hear what had happened in his meeting with her other relative.
One of the aspects of favor from God that can be troubling is that it is, by nature, dependent upon someone else. We believe that God is going to move on our behalf by influencing another person to meet whatever we may need at the time. This requires that we wait for the outcome of the process.
Although favor implies that we expect God to move on people, we still need to remember that the main element of anything we do in the Lord is trusting God himself. We believe he will influence people but if people do not respond, we must trust that God will meet the need in any way necessary.
If we do not keep this focus, we will tend to look in the wrong direction for the help we expect. We will usually be disappointed. In all the years I have been serving God, I have rarely seen my needs met in the way that I expected. God moves in ways we usually could not imagine. Even when it comes to believing for favor, our trust must be in the Lord.
Another reason this is so important is our tendency to want to control our environment. Most people just do not like to be completely dependent. They want to know they have some influence over the important things they must deal with in life. The operation of favor simply does not allow this. If we do not cultivate an attitude of trust in God, we may try to bring natural influence to bear on the one we think God needs to influence. This is always a problem and often stops God from being able to bring favor even when that might be the very person he wants to use.
The need to trust in God while he is working favor for us brings us to the scripture I have chosen for today. James 1:2-4 gives us a graphic picture of the process that we must allow to work in order to see favor come into our lives. Faith is a force of the spirit that affects the natural world. Faith has a cooperating force that must be applied particularly when we believe for favor. That force is patience.
This scripture tells us that the trying of our faith puts patience to work. We must realize that any time we make a decision to walk by faith the devil is going to try to keep what we believe from coming to pass. Believing for favor is no exception to this rule. The devil will do anything he can to keep favor from coming to us or to discourage us from continuing in faith long enough to see the results working in our lives. The only way he can defeat a believing Christian is to cause that person to quit.
In response to the pressure to quit, the Lord will put patience to work in our hearts. As with anything else God does with us, we must be willing to cooperate for it to produce the benefit we need to successfully overcome the trying of our faith.
What is patience? The English dictionary defines it as the capacity for waiting or the ability to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties. Thayer’s Bible Definitions says patience is steadfastness, constancy and endurance. In the New Testament, it is the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and suffering. We might sum up these definitions by saying that patience is consistency. Paul describes patience this way.
Philippians 4:11-13(NKJV) 11Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
We often quote verse thirteen in the context of doing works for God. This is valid as we certainly can do any work for the Lord if Christ is strengthening us. However, that is not the context of this verse at all. The context of this verse is the trying of Paul’s faith. He says that in any situation, whether successful of not, whether hungry or full, whether abounding in victory or abased in defeat, he has learned to be the same way. He has learned the secret of patience.
Patience is required for all kinds of faith, but it is especially necessary if we are going to believe for favor from God. Favor requires that we wait no matter what is happening around us. Favor requires that we leave our situation in the hands of God and trust him to work out what we need. We must continue to apply the Godly principles we learned from Ruth, but we have no ability to influence the outcome of the situation beyond that. We must have patience.
The thing we must remember is that patience is in us just as faith is in us. It is a fruit of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is in us so patience is in us. We simply need to allow it work. We need to keep thanking God that he is moving in our circumstance. We need to remind the devil and ourselves that the Lord will always keep his word. He said he would give us favor and he is doing just that. We need to look continually to the biblical promise we are standing on for whatever we may need.
Finally, we read that if we let patience work to completion, we will be perfect and we will lack nothing. By perfect, the bible does not mean flawless. It means complete. The work of patience brings our faith to a completion. The result is that we lack nothing in the area in which we are trusting God to move. The more areas we allow faith and patience to work to completion, the more areas we will lack nothing.
Favor is coming to you if you will believe God for it. There will be evidence that tells you this is not true. Circumstances may arise that tell you favor is far from you. However, God is moving on your behalf. He may have to deal with a number of people before someone responds. If the people he attempts to influence for you will not respond, he may take matters into his own hands and meet your need directly. Either way God will not fail you.
Let patience work. Thank God for the force of patience working in your life. Remind yourself and the devil what Paul reminded the Philippians. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. That includes the ability to wait in faith while God works to bring favor to bear in your life.