Perfect Patience makes a Perfect Man.
'And let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.'—Jas. i. 4.
PERFECTION is a seed. The life, given in regeneration, is a perfect life. Through ignorance and unbelief the soul may never get beyond knowing that it has life, and remain unconscious of what a wonderful perfect life it has.
Perfection is a seed. It is a blessed hour when the soul wakens up to know this, and with a perfect heart yields itself to appropriate all that God has given. The perfection of the perfect heart, a heart wholly yielded to seek God with all its strength, is again a seed, with infinite power of growth and increase.
Perfection is a growth. As the Christian awakens to the consciousness of what God asks and gives, and maintains the vow of a wholehearted surrender, he grows in his sense of need and his trust in the promise of a Divine life and strength, until all the promises of grace come to a focus in the one assurance, 'The God of all grace shall Himself perfect you'; that faith which was the fruit of previous growth, becomes the new seed of further growth. Perfection now develops into something riper and mellower. The overshadowing Presence of Him who perfects, rests abidingly on the spirit, and the whole character bears the impress of heavenliness and fellowship with the Unseen. The soul makes way for God, and gives Him time to do His work; the God of Peace, perfecting in every good thing, gets entire possession. The soul rests in the rest of God.
This is not the work of a day. Perfection is a growth. 'Ye have need of patience, that having done the will of God, ye may inherit tho promise.' 'Be imitators of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.' Man is the creature of time, is under the law of development. In the kingdom of heaven it is as in nature, from the seed first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. There is nothing at times that appears more mysterious to the believer than the slowness of God. It is as if our prayers are not heard, as if His promises are not fulfilled, as if our faith is vain. And all the time God is hastening on His work ■with all speed. He will avenge His own elect speedily, though He bear long with them.
'Let patience have its perfect work.' We are so often impatient with ourselves, not content to trust God to do His work, and so hindering just when we want to hurry on His work. We are impatient with God; instead of the adoring trust of Him, the God of peace, who is perfecting us, we fret ourselves because we see not what we had thought out for ourselves. 'Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him,' is the law of faith, not only in times of weal, but specially in the path of perfection. Faith is the law of the Christian life to an extent that very few realise. The assurance that rests in the unseen power that is working out its Holy Purpose will never be disappointed. As it has been said of an aged saint, 'She was sure that, however long any soul might have to continue in the path of humiliation, with selfemptying, the end, with all who were faithful, would one day be a filling to overflowing of all their inward being with the presence of the Holy One.'
'Let patience have its perfect work.' This is the command. To those who obey it the prospect held out is sure, 'that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.' How words are heaped up to mate us feel what the aim and expectation of the believer ought to be! Perfect, something finished, that answers its end; entire, that in which every part is in its place; and lacking in nothing, just all that the Father expects: such is the Christian character as God's Spirit sets it before us. There is a perfection which the Christian is to regard as his duty and his life. Where patience has its perfect work it will bring forth what the husbandman longs for, fruit unto perfection. 'God's work in man is the man. If God's teaching by patience have a perfect work in you, you are perfect.'
But where there is to be this perfect fruit, there must first be the perfect seed. And that seed is the perfect heart. Without this, whenco could patience have its perfect work? With this, every trial, every difficulty, every failure even, is accepted as God's training school, and God is trusted as the Faithful One, who is perfecting His own work. Let there be first the perfect heart—that will lead to perfect patience, and that again to the fully perfected man.
Jesus Christ was Himself not perfected in one day: it took time; in Him patience had its perfect work. True faith recognises the need of time, and rests in God. And time to us means days and years. Let us learn each day to renew the vow: This day I would live for God as perfectly as His grace will enable- me. This day I would, in the patience of hope, trust the God of all grace, who Himself is perfecting me. This day I would be perfect and entire, lacking nothing. With such a vow renewed day by day, with faith in Christ who has perfected us, and God who is perfecting us, patience will do its perfect work. And we shall be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.