Waiting the Crucible

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Galatians 5, James 1, Luke 12, 1 Samuel 2
Lesson Number: 


Lesson 11

Waiting in the Crucible

(Galatians 5, James 1, Luke 12, 1 Samuel 26)

Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Do you like to wait? Does your answer turn on the nature of your wait? For example, my wife and I agree that we would rather take the longer route to a destination if the traffic is flowing freely as opposed to the shorter route where we wait in a traffic jam. In both cases we wait (we are delayed in our arrival), but the one type of wait is preferable. Is this also true in the life of a Christian? Or, is the Biblical teaching about patience a completely different discussion? Is learning to wait about other virtues, as opposed to learning how to make it painless? Let’s see what the Bible teaches us about patience!

  1. Patience is an Onion Virtue
    1. Read Galatians 5:19-21. Why does the Bible call these attitudes and activities “works of the flesh?” (They don’t come from God. They come from our selfish attitudes.)
    2. Read Galatians 5:22-23. These are the “fruit of the Spirit.” The way this is written in Galatians seems to be a counter-point to the “works of the flesh.” As you think about the works of the flesh, what is the counter, the opposite, of patience? (As we consider the list, it seems that several result from a lack of patience: enmity, strife, jealously, anger, and envy. The connection is that if we waited, we might not experience these emotions.)
      1. Does this teach us that patience is like an onion, it has many different layers?
    3. Read Galatians 5:24. Assume that we are saved by faith alone, what is this telling us to do? (Read Romans 6:6 and Romans 8:13. This seems to have two parts. First, when we were baptized we joined Jesus in His crucifixion. Our old self died. At the same time in Romans 7:15 we find that the struggle with sin still exists and so Romans 8:13 tells us to make a choice about how we will live.)
    4. Read Galatians 5:25. What does the Holy Spirit have to do with this? (We are told to “keep in step” with the Holy Spirit. I think that means to pay attention and do what the Spirit tells us to do.)
      1. Does this paying attention have something to do with patience?
  2. The Road to Patience
    1. Read James 1:2-3. The ESV translates the Hebrew word as “steadfastness” while other translations translate it as “patience.” Strong’s suggests “cheerful endurance.” Why would trials in life “produce” cheerful endurance? (This is an instruction to Christians. If we trust God, we know that things are going to work out right.)
      1. What kind of patience is this? (This is a different layer of the onion: patience in adverse circumstances, as opposed to patience with a person that we are trying to teach.)
    2. Read James 1:4-5. What is the “full effect” of patience? (We grow in character. This suggests that patience is the road to “lacking in nothing.”)
      1. What does wisdom have to do with this?
    3. Read 2 Peter 3:8-9. What do we learn about God’s timing? (He has a different time gauge than we have.)
      1. Note that this says about God’s patience. What might be a reason why we should patiently wait on God? (His delay is for our benefit! We wait on God and God waits on us.)
      2. Connect this to what we previously discussed about patience being the antidote to several sinful attitudes. We now see that the purpose of God’s patience towards us is also about our sinful attitudes.
    4. I noted above that Strong’s sees the attitude of cheerfulness as a component part of patience. At the same time, I read a commentary that suggested that if you were enjoying the wait (much like my introduction about taking a more pleasant route), then this was not patience. Does the wait have to be annoying to help you develop patience? (Look again at James 1:2. He tells us that the road to patience should be joyful. I think the goal is to find joy in the wait.)
    5. With the advent of cell phones I had the possibility of doing all sorts of entertaining or productive things while I waited. Are cell phones the key to finding joy in waiting? (Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. This is God’s pre-cell phone advice. We can have joy while waiting by praying and giving thanks to God.)
      1. Have you ever tried that while you were waiting in line?
  3. The Right Picture of Patience
    1. When my wife and I agree to go somewhere, I often head immediately to the car, back it out of the garage, roll down the window and relax as I look around my yard and the neighborhood. Is this the kind of patience that God is looking for in us?
    2. Read Hebrews 6:11-12. This suggests that being “sluggish” while we patiently wait is a problem. Why would that be true? (The text says that we should “imitate” those who are not sluggish while waiting because they inherit the promises.)
      1. How do we avoid being sluggish? (The picture painted here is one of being “earnest,” “hopeful,” and “faithful” while looking forward to a reward. It is a picture of action.)
        1. These sound like attitudes. What, specifically, should we be doing to avoid being labeled as “sluggish?” (We turn to that next.)
    3. Read Luke 12:35-37. What are we supposed to do while we are waiting?
    4. Read Luke 12:42-43. What additional instruction do we find here about our duties while waiting patiently? (The manager is running the household.)
    5. Read Luke 12:45-47. What should we refrain from doing while waiting? (Harming fellow servants.)
    6. These snapshots from Luke 12 seem to be about rich rulers of a household. How would you apply this teaching if you have no hired help in your household? (I think this applies to our fellow Christians. This is the household of God. We should spend our time waiting doing good things to help fellow believers.)
  4. David, a Picture of Patience?
    1. Read 1 Samuel 26:1-2. Why was King Saul looking for David? Did he want to give him his birthday present? (1 Samuel 23:15 reveals that King Saul wanted to capture and kill David. Saul had previously made attempts on David’s life.)
    2. Read 1 Samuel 26:3-4. Was David waiting patiently for Saul to come? (No. He sent out spies to be alerted to an approach by King Saul.)
    3. Read 1 Samuel 26:5-6. Is this a picture of patience? (Hardly. David quickly moves forward with his plan.)
    4. Read 1 Samuel 26:7-9. Is David waiting? If you say, “yes,” what is David waiting for? (He is waiting on God. It was clear that David would be the next king (1 Samuel 23:17). David decided that instead of making this transition happen, he would wait until God moved.)
    5. Read 1 Samuel 31:3-5. Note that the armor-bearer had the same concerns as David. Read 1 Samuel 31:6-9 and 1 Samuel 31:12. Was David’s patience a good thing?
      1. If you say, “yes,” go back and read 1 Samuel 23:16-17. Had David killed Saul when he could, his friend Jonathan would have lived and he would have helped David. King Saul’s body would not have been mutilated and placed on display. Is David’s delay a display of patience or a failure to boldly follow God’s directions?
        1. Would it have been murder if David killed Saul that night?
    6. Consider that after David became king, a young man came to him and reported that he had killed King Saul, at his request, to save him from the enemy. This account differs from what we just read, and is likely untrue. Read 2 Samuel 1:14-16 for David’s reaction. Was a greater moral issue involved when David refused to kill King Saul?
    7. Friend, our study reveals an interesting side to being patient that I cannot say I’ve considered before. Being patient allows you to avoid engaging in evil. In each situation we considered, patience was set out as an alternative to evil actions. Will you, through the power of the Holy Spirit, seek patience?
  5. Next week: Dying Like a Seed.