The Parable of Passion and Patience

One of my favorite parts of The Pilgrim’s Progress is the scene with Passion and Patience. Christian arrives at Interpreter’s house where he is given a brief tour. In one room he notices two lads, the elder named Passion, the other Patience.

The governor has special gifts for both boys; however, he wishes to have them receive the gifts at the beginning of the next year. Passion, a boy full of restless desire, will not wait. He wants his things at once.

Upon receiving and delighting in his endowment, he laughs Patience to scorn. But eventually the wonder of his things fade as they break or become tattered and old.

Patience, quiet and persevering, soon receives his goods. What Passion overlooked was that better things came with waiting.

Lasting Things 

Bunyan has Interpreter explain that Passion represents the worldly and ungodly that live only for themselves. They must have their fill now and are discontented without it. But Patience represents those who set their affections on Christ and the life to come, who with faith and perseverance receive eternal gifts. Interpreter sagely explains:

“The glory of the next world will never wear out…Patience will have to laugh at Passion because he had his best things last; for first must give place to last, because last must have his time to come: but last gives place to nothing, for there is not another to succeed…he that hath his portion last, must have it lastingly.”

Never Underestimate Faith

Patience in that scene reminds me of contestants on a game show who, given options, feel they could be missing out big because they settled for something small. Yet they couldn’t know that inside that little box or messenger bag was a vacation or the keys to a car.

Jesus reassures us that those who have faith have it all. It doesn’t always feel or look like it. But if we could see where we’re headed or hear from those gone before us, we would know with absolute certainty.

Furthermore, faith makes all the difference in how we sojourn in this life. It teaches us to trust, to wait, to persevere. It focuses us on what matters for a spiritual inheritance rather than an earthly one.

Earthly comforts are good and are given by God; however, we are not guaranteed an easy life. But like the rich man (Luke 12), let us not incur the charge of stupidity because we, like Passion, lived materially rich but died spiritually broke.

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