9-3-2017 The Waiting Game James 5:7-11
A farm boy accidentally overturned his wagon-load of corn in the road. The farmer who lived nearby came to investigate. “Hey, Willis,” he called out, “forget your troubles for a moment and come on in and have dinner with us. Then I'll help you get the wagon up.”
“That's mighty nice of you,” Willis answered, “but I don't think Pa would like me to.”
“Aw, come on, son!” the farmer insisted.
“Well, okay,” the boy finally agreed. “But Pa won't like it.”
After a hearty dinner, Willis thanked his host. “I feel a lot better now, but I just know Pa is going to be real upset.”
“Don't be foolish!" exclaimed the neighbor. "By the way, where is he?”
“Under the wagon.”
The patience needed by the “Pa” at that point would have to be beyond comprehension. The Apostle James has someing to say about patience which we’ll look at this morning. Patience has been defined this way: The ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears. (I think it might have been Joe Ostermann who said it this way!) So the title matches a movie’s title from the early 2000’s. There is also a book with this same title. And, there is even a song with this same title. However, I only stole the title without any ties to any of those things unless purely conicidental (which I doubt).
7 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. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 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.
These Jewish believers, most of whom were poor, were being exploited by the rich and were persecuted to varying degrees because of their faith. These situational factors led to problems in the church as their frustrations tempted them to sin or at the least, be lax about sinning. James encourages the believers to be patient here until the Lord’s return. But this patience that James call them to have is not passive. It is a call to action while waiting. In this passage, James illustrates some helpful exaples for our own personal application. After speaking of the need for patience, he proceeds with different lessons that reinforce and apply this theme.
The principle of patience—even when expounded on--will not mean much unless we apply it to our lives. By looking at the topic of patience through James’s eyes, we discover there are things we, too, must actively do as we wait. First you can:
Plan Your Future (v.7)
Plan Your Future (v.7)
Plan for a lifetime of persistent Patience! Hurry up and wait!
Therefore be patient, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the soil, being patient concerning it until it receives the early and late rains.
How long does Jesus expect us to wait? Until His second coming! That still might be a long time (relatively speaking), however the reward of His coming is well worth the wait! But ultimately we dont know. Maybe for us here today, the wait is but a few years, a few months, or even a few hours!
1. So, for the Christian, we have an eager expectation for precious fruit!
a. The Farmer excitedly anticipates its FRUITION. the farmer doesn’t plant seeds for the immediate gratification.
b. He understands the fruit is PRECIOUS.
But the fruit, here in our passage, can apply to the full maturation of the believer.
2. The Christian demonstrates long spirited patience!
a. He realizes precious fruit requires TIME to mature. Remember, Noah—he was 486 years old before he knew enough to build an ark. So, too, does the young believer require time for maturation in the faith.
b. He realizes God is in control of its FRUITION. The farmers of those days were dependent on two ‘rains’. The ‘early’ rain came at planting time in October. The ‘latter’ rain came at harvesting time in late April or early May. Without those two rains, the farmer had no hope of raising a good crop. But the farmer could not force it to rain. All he could do was wait for the rains to come. He had to depend on the God who had ordained those rains to send them at the proper time. We are called to trust God in circumstances over which we have no control. Here is yet another example of the Divine-human co-operation with the Holy Spirit concerning sanctification. We are to not greive the Holy Spirit and
So we ought to take action and plan our future with patience! Also, you can:
Ready Your Heart (v.8)
Ready Your Heart (v.8)
Prepare your heart to stand firm!
You also be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the coming of the Lord is near.
1. Be resolved to standing firm! it is a choice (8a) why?
a. YHWH is in the process of WORKING in your life.
b. YHWH is in the process of PRODUCING a harvest in your life.
2. Establish in you that Christ’s return is nearing (8b).
The ESV says, “Establish your hearts” (Greek: Stayridzo) this means to set on/to fix on. James is saying here that we must
a. Have a sense of spiritual urgency because of Christ’s imenant (near/about to happen) and eminant (popular/expected/grand) return.
b. Set ourselves to keep working and waiting.
—Andrew Murray tells this story:
A doctor was once asked by a patient who had been in a serious accident, "Doctor, how long should I have to be in here?" The answer by the Doc, "Only a day at a time," taught the patient a very valuable lesson. It was the same lesson God records for His people of all ages, long before: The day's portion in its day. Faithful for one short day, long years take care of themselves.
And As you plan and ready your hearts James also warns you to:
Guard Your Mouth (v.9)
Guard Your Mouth (v.9)
Purpose to please the Lord with your attitude and by never complaining!
Brothers, do not complain against one another, in order that you may not be judged. Behold, the judge stands before the doors!
Life does bring trials, of course, but no one is helped through the outpouring of a complaining spirit.
1. Guard your response to oppression (9a).
a. It is an inner distress.
b. It can bring condemnation.
2. Recognize God is entering at the door (9b).
a. He is present (standing now).
b. He is the judge.
So do not judge. James has already recently spoke on the problem of passing judgment (4:11–12), but he does so again here. He is warning the poor against taking judgment, even righteous judgment, into their own hands, because the wealthy who have been their oppressors are also their brothers and sisters in Christ. The call of James is to actively love these brothers and sisters in the concrete, not just in the abstract. This is no light task. Eric Hoffer, the San Francisco philosopher from the 1960s, once observed, “It is easier to love humanity than to love your neighbor.”
David Nystrom points out:
A murderer who confesses and seems to display signs of remorse moves us, generally, to the serious consideration of leniency. After all, we all have erred, we all have had irrational impulses, and we all can, perhaps, imagine ourselves in a similar position. But a remorseless criminal earns our hatred and our irrational fear, for we cannot conceive of such a brazen and indifferent attitude. So it is with these wealthy in James 5. They may be vaguely aware that some of their poor employees have died as a result of their demand for luxurious ease (as 5:6 suggests). But they have no notion of the individuals they have harmed. In such cases it is usual for the wronged and maligned to desire some measure of vengeance, but James forbids it. To demand vengeance is to be guilty of the very crime committed against them. “The Judge,” James says, “is standing at the door!” (5:9).
We seem to have a shift here in our passage from the Experience of the fruitfulness of patience to now the Enjoyment of the blessing of steadfastness.
Obey YHWH (v.10)
Obey YHWH (v.10)
Do the will of God regardless of the outcome.
Brothers, take as an example of perseverance and endurance the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
1. The prophets were obedient and in the will of God, yet even they, too, suffered. These men are known throughout all time now for suffering by the hands of men when they had done no wrong. They were harshly treated for just faithfully declaring the word of God. Moses had to suffer through a complaining and grumbling people for over forty years. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, was thrown into the mud of an empty cistern. Daniel was cast into the lions’ den. Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, remaind a faithful follower of YHWH as he was put to death in the temple.
a. Faithfulness leads to persecution.
b. Christ was faithful and still was led to the Cross.
2. The prophets’ were an example of the correct response.
a. They didn’t compromise their message.
b. They stayed faithful in spite of suffering.
The prophets didn’t complain and neither should we as the apostle Paul also warns
nor grumble, just as some of them grumbled, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to those people as an example, but are written for our instruction, on whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore, the one who thinks that he stands must watch out lest he fall.
Don’t be like the grumbling Israelites! By the way, who is the destroyer in this 1 Cor. passage? well, Paul is talking about the judgment from Numbers 14 and that is where we can identify the destroyer:
Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me,
YHWH is this destroyer! HE HATES complaining!!!
But there is at least one more thing that we can glean from the prophets:
The Propehts also teach us that there are times when doing nothing is better than doing anything.
—Sunday School Times points out:
Those are the times when only God can do what is needed. True faith trusts Him then, and Him alone, to do the miracle. Moses and Jehoshaphat knew this secret; they knew the same Lord, and the same divine grace. As the pursuing Egyptians trapped the helpless Israelites at the Red Sea, Moses said: "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.... The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace" (Exod. 14). As the Moabites and Ammonites, a vast multitude, closed in on Judah, King Jehoshaphat said to the helpless people: "Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not your's, but God's.... Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord" (II Chron. 20).
So, too, the Psalmist gives us YHWH’s Word:
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
When it is God alone that wins the victory, faith trusts YHWH will do it all. It is better to trust than to try in disobedience.
Experience the blessings of the Lord.
Behold, we consider blessed those who have endured. You have heard about the patient endurance of Job, and you saw the outcome from the Lord, that the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
Here James is leading his readers to apply the lessons from Old Testament lives. To use James’ example, Job is thought to be the very oldest book chronologically speaking and it is studied as a fascinating book for ancient history, and an interesting biography, but the book of Job demands a heart response from the reader— trust in YHWH! The one who has suffered and can help us cope with suffering. Job’s life is an example we ought to follow. Job may have complained and wondered why, but he did not stop trusting or obeying God. And we know this because Job established in his heart:
Then he said, “Naked I came out from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. Yahweh gives, and Yahweh takes. Let Yahweh’s name be blessed.”
And apparently this was not misplaced faith. As you know already, our Lord did indeed deliver and restore him:
So Yahweh blessed Job’s latter days more than his beginning. Thus he had fourteen thousand sheep and goats and six thousand camels and a thousand pair of oxen and a thousand female donkeys.
The believers, after all the suffering they had endured thus far, were encouraged not to give up—God would deliver and reward them.
We can see clearly from Job’s life that perseverance is not the result of understanding. Job never received an explanation from God for his suffering. This is partly because pain is often a part of life that must be endured beyond explanations. There are many things we can understand, but not everything. YHWH doesn’t owe us answers. His purpose is not that we just develop a mind full of explanations and answers; rather, His purpose is to bring us to a place where we bow the knee in trust to Him. YHWH does not enjoy watching His people suffer; however, He does allow them to face such pain resulting in a greater good being produced. In the meantime, James encourages his readers to trust in God, wait patiently, persevere, and remember God’s tenderness and mercy.
1. Job demonstrated loyal endurance.
a. His patience was endurance under great stress and great loss.
b. His patience was sustained by the grace of God.
2. Job experienced God’s blessings before and after the biggest trial he’d lived through.
a. The Lord is compassionate.
b. The Lord is merciful.
That’s great that Job got the blessings at the end, but where is my hope? Well… it is at the end of your story as well.
In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
Your Hope is eternal life! Heaven!
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Your Hope is the “glorious appearing of YOUR great God and our Saviour, Jesus the Christ”
James begs the believers for patience because he wants us to wait for the Lord’s coming, and as was the case with Job and the prophets, our character is formed in the heat of difficulty. It makes sense that future (or eschatological) teachings should be found with teachings concerning patience during difficult times, because “eschatology arises out of the clash between faith in a benevolent purpose of God and the harsh facts of a ruthless world. James says that God does not wish us to condemn one another. Behind this statement stands another reason, namely, that we can too easily become guilty of the same sins ourselves. We are to be patient and refrain from condemnation, for each is a necessary ingredient for the spiritual journey to which James calls us. To condemn is to sink to the level of those who perpetrate wrong. To endure with patience is to set one’s feet on the path to spiritual maturity.
Waiting on the Lord --Fred Scott Shepard
Waiting on the Lord --Fred Scott Shepard
"Wait, I say, on the Lord" (Ps. 27:14) Wait on the Lord, thou contrite one, In penitence draw near; He will His pard'ning grace bestow; Your cry for mercy hear. (James 4:8).
Wait on the Lord, thou tempted one, Beset by hosts of sin; Sufficient will his grace be found The victory to win. (II Cor. 12:9).
Wait on the Lord, thou weary one, When cares of life oppress; In Him find ev'ry need supplied; In Him find quietness. (Ps. 84:10).
Wait on the Lord, thou saddened one. That grief and sorrow knows; He shares the measure of your need; His heart with love o'erflows. (Ps. 103:13).
Wait on the Lord: In confidence And expectation wait; His promises are ever sure; His mercy truly great.—Fred Scott Shepard