Patrick of Ireland: A Devotional History
Reading: “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10
As we study the life of Patrick there are a few admirable characteristics that we can find in the little information we have of him: that the Spirit of God worked powerfully in him, that he had a strong faith in the sovereignty of God through severe trials, and that he was a man of prayer.
Another characteristic that we can glean from his writings is that he was a man with a robust work ethic. He speaks of thousands of converts baptized under his ministry (Confession, sec. 50) and of endeavoring to reach into areas where no one had gone before (Confession, sec. 51).
The first thing that we must notice regarding this work ethic is that it was spiritually motivated. Nothing will get the church active but the Spirit of God. Like the early disciples who were driven by an inner desire to speak of those things that the Lord had done for them, Patrick says, “I cannot keep silent nor in fact would it be proper to do so about the great benefits and grace which the Lord has deigned to confer on me” (Confession, sec. 3).
It is not only spiritual motivation that we need in the work of God but also sustained dedication. What the church needs today is godly persistence and perseverance in the work of God. Patrick’s work was not in mere bursts of busyness. As he said, it was that which “I had learned from Christ my Lord,” from whom also he said, “I felt within me considerable strength” (Confession, sec. 30). Christian, learn from Christ and lean on Him for strength. Patrick said, “I pray to God to give me perseverance and to deign to grant that I prove a faithful witness to Him until I pass on, for my God’s sake” (Confession, sec. 58). Patrick said that it was by this that his “faith was proved before God and man” (Confession, sec. 30).
He recognized that the work that he accomplished was by “the grace of God which was with [him],” and thus it was a great privilege. He says, “[I] always give thanks to God who showed me that I might place implicit and unlimited trust in Him, and who helped me so that I, for all my ignorance, should in the last days venture to undertake such devout and wonderful work” (Confession, sec. 34).
“Idleness tempts the devil to tempt.”—Thomas Watson