A Reason to Endure
A Reason To Endure
Secular Point—As a culture, we are not very patient people. Over the last 25 years, the number of sit down restaurants has declined by nearly 25%. This is not do to some kind of exciting return to eating good old home cooked meals, but rather it has to do with our impatience – over the same 25 year time span, the number of fast food restaurants has increased 100%. An Associated Press survey back in 2006 came out with some interesting findings – if people need to wait in line for more than 15 minutes, they start to get impatient and irritable. This is substantially worse at grocery stores and at the DMV (or RMV). They also found that the average American gets irritable after talking on the phone for more than 12 minutes (9 for guys, 15 for girls).
Personal Point -- For the students, how do you respond when we see people cheating and getting away with it? For the married people, how do you feel when tax time comes, and you are penalized because you are married, but the government doesn’t penalized the boyfriend and girlfriend who live upstairs? It makes you angry and resentful, right? How about when the guy who shows up late for work, takes a long break at lunch, and leaves early gets the raise? Yet you show up faithfully are there for the full day and get nothing. Life is full of these little injustices. We see people reap rewards for doing evil, yet it seems like we are penalized for doing right. We pray that God would be swift with His justice and ask Him to bring their actions to light.
Biblical Point – James was writing to an audience who had been scattered across the Roman world. The people who he was writing to were poor, persecuted, and weary. They wanted their hardships to end yesterday. In our passage today, James is trying to give them hope.
Today, we will be answering the question, how are we to face trials patiently?
Textual Point –If you would please turn with me to James 5:7-12
I. We are able to face trials patiently because we know that the Lord will be returning soon. We should endure patiently because Jesus could return anytime now.(v. 7-8)
i. James tells his readers that they should be patient, because the coming of the Lord is near. Some people believe that James made a common error for the time in his understanding that Jesus’ return was imminent. Yet I believe that this in not really the case. In Mark 13:32, Jesus himself said that no one knows the day or the hour, except for the Father. Rather, I think that James in trying to say that since we don’t know the time, we should live as if Jesus could return within our day.
James’ example of patience is that of a farmer. Now, I don’t know much about farming myself, yet I know that the farmer has to plant the seed and wait months for the seeds to grow before they will produce their fruit. Apparently in the region where they live, there were three main times of rain – the time around when the planted (early rains), a time sometime between the planting and harvest, and a time just before harvest. In order for them to get the maximum yield from their crops, they needed to wait for all three times of rain. Similarly, the people who James is writing to are encouraged to patiently endure – in order that they themselves may mature. It is in the forge of trials that we are forged into faithful followers that God has called us to be…more on that later.
At the same time, James tells his readers that they are to strengthen their hearts. The word used here can also be translated as “to make fast” or “to establish” In the same way, we need to be sure to strengthen our hearts so that we can stand fast and remain faithful until the day Jesus returns. If we do not strengthen our hearts, it is impossible to endure the trials we face.
The fact that the Lord will be returning soon should be an encouragement to believers, because it reminds us that any trials we are going through are only temporary.
i. Joni Erikson Tada
i. How do we view trials? Do we tend to keep a big picture perspective, or do we tend to get bogged down into the situations we are it?
II. We are to face trials patiently because we recognize the Lord’s judgment. We can endure trials because we do not desire to fall under judgment. (v.9)
i. We are to make sure that we do not complain against one another, because we do not wish to fall under God’s judgment. James warns us not to complain against one another in light of judgment. The word in this passage as translated patience could be understood to mean “long-tempered.” This passage recalls to my memory James’ warnings about the tongue and the passage in chapter 4 verses 11 and 12 where he talks about...
i. I think that James is recognizing here that one possible response to the pressure we feel from trials could be to lash out at others. In my experience, when I feel stressed or am facing some type of trial I am much more likely to lose my temper and complain. An example of this occurred when I was applying to Moody. I applied and was told that I would have a response within a couple weeks. Three weeks later I called and they told me that my application was being reviewed and they should know by the end of the week. A week passed and still nothing. I called and was told the guy responsible for letting us know was on vacation and would return in a week. More time passed, and I kept calling, their response was the same – “they are reviewing it right now, I expected to hear by now…” As more time passed I got more and more frustrated and angry. I knew that God had called me to Chicago, yet I did not know why he had seemingly closed the only door I saw to coming here. Finally on the 31st of July I received a call saying that I had been accepted. By this time, I was so frustrated and angry, I didn’t even know how to respond. When I finally got to school, and some people were talking about the application process, my words about this person were filled with venom. I could not find anything positive to say. I know that this was not the way that God called me to respond, and I know my reactions towards people during this time were short. Looking back, I know that God was trying to teach me patience and to trust Him, yet I know at the same time, that I was not patient.
i. How do your respond to your roommate or spouse after a long day of class? Do you snap at them because of small little things they have done, such as maybe leaving their dirty dishes unwashed in the sink or not talking out the trash? For you parents, how do you act towards your kids when you have had a terrible day? Do you respond to their incessant demands for attention with love or do you take your frustrations out on them? Or how about this one…you are running late to work or school, how do you respond to the guy who cuts you off? Or how about the people at church who you feel are incompetent?
III. We can face trials patiently because we have seen God’s character. We endure with patience because we have seen how the Lord responds to those who endure. (vv. 10-11)
i. Here James points out another reason why we should endure – because we know God’s character, by seeing how He has responded to those who have faithfully and patiently endured. Those who were persecuted and endured are considered blessed. He asks us to think of the prophets and consider what they endured as well as their reaction. He says that based on their endurance, we should take heart and endure just as they did. The prophets were treated poorly, yet they did not retaliate, but rather continued to speak the messages God gave them. For example, think of Jeremiah. Throughout his ministry, he was treated badly. At various points they threatened to kill him and in chapter 38:6, they throw Jeremiah into a well because he gave them the message God had given him to tell the king.
James also brings to mind Job and his sufferings. Through all of his sufferings, he never blamed God nor did he sin. At the end of this testing, God had tested Job’s faith and found it true and further, God blessed him abundantly more than He had before. As James tells us, God is full of compassion and is merciful.
i. Nathan’s car example
i. Who do you know what has endured great hardship? Have you read any biographies about people who have been tested and the results? How does that encourage you? What did you learn about God through those?
Through this passage, we have seen how it is that we are able to endure. We have seen that we are able to endure because we know that regardless of whatever we are going through, that it is only temporary. We have also seen that we endure trial so that we may not fall under judgment. And thirdly, we have seen that we are able to endure trials because of who God is and seeing the way that He has dealt with those who endured.