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"Ye have need of patience, that, having done the will of God
ye may receive the promise."—Heb. X. 36.
IT was in a time of very severe trial that this Epistle was addressed to the Hebrews. It had been to them a bitter disappointment to see the nation rejecting their Messiah, and for that rejected of God. To have the temple, too, with its Divine ordinances of circumcision and sacrifice, set aside, was to many a mystery and a cause of deep sorrow. In reproach and the spoiling of their goods they had had personally to endure the pain of persecution. The Epistle was written to comfort them by revealing the spiritual glory of Christ's priesthood and the salvation He bestowed. And it pointed them to the Father, to prove that suffering had been the path of all God's saints, and had always brought a great recompense of reward. It is in this connection that the words come: Ye have need of patience, that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise. The promise was sure and very precious; the suffering was needful, and would be very blessed. The one thing they needed was patience in bearing what God sent, and waiting what God had promised. And in that time of patient waiting they needed just one thing—to see that they did the will of God. In a world of sorrow and trial the Christian has but this one thing to strive after: Not only to bear, but to do the will of God; that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise.
Doing the will of God is the path to the inheritance. The inheritance owes its Divine glory and blessedness to God having willed it. God's will working in us can alone fit us for receiving and enjoying it. And God's will can work in no other way in us as creatures endowed with intelligence and will and moral powers, than by our doing it. Not in any way as a matter of work or merit, but in the very nature and necessity of things the only way of our receiving the promise, which has been bestowed of grace, is by our doing the will. We have been looking at the will of God in various aspects—let us once again turn to this, one of the most elementary, and yet one of the deepest, truths connected with it.
Having done the will of God. It has been said the highest form of existence is the power of working. It is so in God. All His attributes could not make Him the glorious God He is, if they were all dormant, inactive powers. His love, for instance, would be a mere thought or sentiment, not in deed and truth. The highest form of human existence is even so the power of working; and, as a creature, the highest form of that power can be nothing than working out the perfect will of God. God works to will and to do in us, and what He works in us we work out, doing what He wills and does in us. Such doing the will of God is the proof of our entire surrender to it, our being truly mastered and possessed by it. Such doing the will of God is what gives its strength to our inner man, refines and spiritualises our whole being, and fits us for being here, the abode of the Three-One God (John xiv. 15, 21, 23), and entering His abode hereafter (Matt. vii. 21.) Such doing the will of God fits a Christian for receiving every promise.
It was in the time of suffering and trial that these believers were thus to do the will of God. The first concern of most Christians in trouble is to be delivered from it. This may not be the chief thing. The one great desire ought to be —in nothing to fail of knowing or doing the will of God. This is the secret of strength and true nobility in the Christian life. Some think that if under reproach or persecution or injustice, evil feelings are roused and given way to, there is some excuse for it—it cannot be judged too severely—the temptation was so great. God's Word teaches us differently. It regards the Christian so entirely as a man who has given up his own will to live wholly for God's will, that it says to him, of all trial and temptation of whatever nature, seek one thing: not to sin against God. Be patient, and see that you do the will of God.
But is not this something beyond human power —in every trial ever to think first of God's will, and do that? It is indeed something beyond human power, but not beyond the power of grace. It is just for this that our Lord Jesus came to earth, saying: I come to do Thy will, 0 God! and went to the Cross with the cry: Not My will, but Thine be done. He lived as an example of how we ought to live. He died to set us free from the power of sin, and open the path, through death to sin and self, to a life for God and His will. He ascended to heaven to give His own Holy Spirit, that in His power we might, like Him, do the will of the Father.
Alas! that in the Church of Christ the truth should be so little known that to do the will of God is the first duty of the believer; and, as a consequence of this, that there is so little desire of the promise and the need of the Holy Spirit to teach us God's will in daily life. And still further, so little faith in the power of the grace of Christ and His Spirit to fit us for the life of doing the will of God. Men have lost sight of the supernatural light that can reveal the will of God in its beauty and attractiveness, and make it a joy to do it; and of the supernatural obligation to live wholly and entirely for the will of that God who created us, and to whom Christ has brought us back; and of the supernatural power, corresponding to the light and the obligation, which brings a life in the will of God within our reach, because Christ's strength is made perfect in our weakness.
Believer! whatever others say or do, take you the word in its simple Divine meaning: "You have need of patience, that, having done the will of God, you may receive the promise." Beseech God, by His Holy Spirit, in the renewing of the spirit of your mind, to show you how He would have you live wholly in His will. Yield yourself to that will in everything you know, and do it. Yield yourself to that will in all its Divine love and quickening power as it works in you and makes you partaker of its inmost nature. Pray, pray, pray, until you see increasingly how what Christ revealed in His life and death is the promise and pledge of what God will work in you, and how your abiding in Him and your oneness with Him means nothing less than your being called to do the will of God as He did it.