patience in suffering
patience in suffering
last week we discussed the non christian rich people that were in danger of the judgement of God. they were mistreating Christians, and even going so far as to not pay them for the work they had done so some were dying. it was considered murder.
this week James comes back to speaking to the Christians and leading them towards patience in light of the suffering that they were facing.
in this portion of text today, we will see James speak about patience in two different ways with examples, the motivation for having patience, and he will discuss some practical ways to treat each other.
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
lets dive into this verse a bit....
the title that James identifies them with is brothers again.... in stark contrast to earlier in the chapter with the title rich.
He uses the word until....This speaks of time. How long does James tell his readers to be patient?
then we have an illustration of the patience James is speaking of. Waiting like the farmer. how does a farmer wait? The farmer knows it takes time for seeds to become fully grown, so he is patient with the knowledge that fruit will come in due time as long as the rain comes.
this principal for the people James wrote to, and us as well.....the Lord will come in His time. we can trust that and wait patiently knowing. and James speaks about the rain as well....
These rains were vital for the people's crops to grow. they relied on them. We see the principal here to acknowledge that it is God that brings what is needed for the growth and we must rely on Him to do it....
also, some commentators believe this may be eluding to the future harvest since the latter rain helped finish off the crop, we may see an outpouring of the spirit like the early church and Pentecost.
You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
here we are seeing James speak about patience again, but not like before when he spoke of length of time, but standing firm in faith without giving way to doubt. instead of saying until the Lord comes, he states FOR the coming of the Lord is at hand. this gives the purpose and the motivation behind standing firm with patience. The Lord will come.
the picture here is to grow to maturity working on becoming solid in your faith. and how that happens is through trusting in the Lord, reading the word, prayer, worship, and sharing the word.
do you remember back to before you were a Christian and what you relied on? what was your heart established on? we all trusted in something other than God but now we are building our trust with God and He never let's us down. He said He was coming back and we can expect that .
in this text when he speaks about the heart, We in a America tend to think about the heart as our emotions, but the Jewish people looked at the heart as incorporating the emotions and thoughts together. the heart was the center of the person.
the next verse
also, when he says the coming of the Lord is at hand, We could think that this means James thought Christ was about to return but it simply means that he could come at any time. every generation should think this way to be prepared.
then James looks a practical ways to be patient with each other.....by not talking bad against one another in verse 9
Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
James would not tell them to not do something that they weren't already doing.... they were grumbling against each other.
Let's bring it to now.... can you and I grumble? Can we speak bad about each other? Let's see why James is telling us not to do this...
as for judgement....James has spoken about judgement earlier in his letter and he touches on it again. It is probably an important topic to deal with then. they may have been really used to grumbling or talking about people because they had most likely done it for so long..... practicing it, but scripture is very clear that speaking like this is not what God is desiring for His people. It brings about judgement. For us, we need to really check our hearts and see how God sees us. After all we have done to Him and His Son and how does he look at us? but with Love and grace. How does he speak about us?
Let this just wreck us. God is so merciful, so gracious, and he desires us to receive this so we can give it to others... Everyone in our lives really need this love and grace, yes?
a commentary on this verse states....
What is clear is that the author is calling on Christians not to take the judgment of the wicked into their own hands, but to wait for God to avenge them; at the same time they are called not to compromise the faith; both giving in to the world and attacking the world are wrong!
As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
what does scripture say about the prophets struggles?
acts 7 52 states Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered,
And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—
33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life.
36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.
37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—
38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
the prophets suffered tremendously.... but they followed their calling. they were faithful. James uses the example of the prophets to encourage the Christians in that day and it is an encouragement to us as well.
Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
Job....what a book… what a life story. if you have never read it....please do. it gives such a picture of God working in His sovereign ways and mankind somewhat perplexed by it. through it though we see the power of God in restoration. We see how the Lord uses the circumstances of life to reveal who He is building a relationship through the trials.
But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.
this verse is thought of by commentators to be isolated from v12. maybe even its own thought. although James has spoken of the power of the tongue quiet a bit throughout the letter.
we find Jesus saying this in as well. an oath was a taking a commitment and by swearing on earth or heaven was certainly not fitting. but as James states here, that a Christians yes means yes, and no means no.
in those days it was not good to take too many oaths or to take oaths lightly. Christians know that the Lord is over their lives so every commitment we make, we should honor it. God is certainly higher than oaths.....
to wrap up, James gives the reader a teaching on patience and the motivation for growing in faith. He uses the prophets and Job to reflect on. this can encourage us to stay patient for the Lord.