Patience in Suffering (James 5:7-12)
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This morning, we’re working through our series on James and we’re actually about to finish off the letter. We have this section of James for today and then we’ll have one last section that we’ll work on this Wednesday. Because we’re coming to the end of James, we’re starting to read some of James’ last statements to the dispersed believers and in some sense he is working to wrap his message up, though he does wrap up this letter differently than the typical first-century Greek letter style, but if you’re interested in that, you can talk to me about that at another time.
As James starts wrapping up, he starts to meld some of these ideas and principles that he’s stated throughout the letter into one cohesive exhortation to the people, which we can learn from and apply to our own lives; and this one cohesive exhortation has to do with the Coming of the Lord. Or in other words, James is finally getting to the crux of his argument, that we are to do everything that he has taught us to do in his letter not only because the grace of God compels us to do these things and because we’re told to love God and love our neighbors; but we’re also supposed to follow what James is saying because of something that is going to occur in the future. And he calls this event in the future the Coming of the Lord.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s read the passage, and then we’ll start breaking it down.
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. 12 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.
As we study this passage, we’re going to break it down into four parts: Vs. 7-8a, will encourage us to be patient while waiting for the coming of the Lord; Vs. 8b-9, will encourage us to “Establish [our] hearts” because of the coming of the Lord; Vs. 10-11, will utilize examples of prophets and people in the Old Testament who remained steadfast in times of suffering and trials; and Vs. 12, will wrap up this section by discouraging the use of oaths. All of this, will lead us to the idea that we are to be patient and remain steadfast even in the difficulties of life because Jesus has promised to return.
Let’s reread James 5:7-8a to keep it fresh in our minds.
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.
Be Patient during Suffering because of the Coming of the Lord (7-8a)
Be Patient during Suffering because of the Coming of the Lord (7-8a)
James makes the statement that they are to “be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord”
The “therefore” shows us that this paragraph exists in conjunction with the previous section, which was a diatribe against people who boasted in themselves and boasted in their wealth; and in James statement here, he’s reflecting on the unjust rich’s treatment of the poor when he encourages the people to be patient.
The inference is that despite the mistreatment that the believers are suffering in and by extension, despite the average amount of trials and tribulation that they faced, they are still to be patient until the coming of the Lord.
Which is a return to one of the first points in James 1, that are to reorient our thinking when it comes to trials of various kinds, because our trials produce steadfastness, and steadfastness makes us mature.
James is confirming the fact that they’ve been mistreated, but he encourages them regardless of their mistreatment to be patient until the coming of the Lord
What does the Bible mean when it says to be patient? In this case, being patient includes waiting and it includes endurance.
To actually be patient, we have to have something that’s worth waiting for (which would be the coming of the Lord) and because this scenario includes being mistreated, patience here requires endurance.
James tells them to endure mistreatment or endure human evil for a season, which by the way is exactly what God is doing as well; he is enduring human evil for a season—2 Peter 3:9, tells us that “the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise . . . but is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”
So just like God himself is patiently waiting, we are to wait patiently for the coming of the Lord.
In an effort to illustrate how we are to wait patiently, James utilizes the example of a farmer waiting for the harvest, “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.” And there are a number of points that can be made about this illustration, but I’m only going to point out one:
This example teaches us that waiting for God can seem like a long process. The farmer doesn’t plant a seed and an hour later has fully grown produce. It takes time for that seed to take root, to grow, and to eventually mature enough for us to eat it. The farmer would plant the seed and then he would wait and wait until the early and late rains.
The farmer would show his patience in that he wouldn’t get impatient, dig up the seed, and consume the seed. He would show steadfastness in that he wouldn’t give up, he wouldn’t just walk away from the field, he would stay with hopes that after the late rains, he could harvest his crops and feed his family.
James tells them that just like the farmer patiently waiting for his crops; believers are to patiently wait for Jesus’ return. Now, there is a difference between waiting patiently and then not doing anything while waiting patiently and I think that’s probably why James utilizes the example of a farmer. Even though the farmer is patiently waiting, he isn’t neglecting to work. While the farmer is patiently waiting for the crops to grow, he’s also weed the areas that he planted in to prevent weeds from taking the nutrients that the crops need and he has to keep pests from eating his crops. Just like the farmer continues to work while waiting for his crops to grow, James gives them certain activities to do.
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.
Establish Your Hearts for the Coming of the Lord (8-9)
Establish Your Hearts for the Coming of the Lord (8-9)
James tells them that just like the farmer who is patiently waiting for his crops, the believers are to patiently wait for the Lord and while they patiently wait, they are to “Establish their hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
The word that’s translated “Establish” in the ESV is sometimes translated as “Strengthen.” And the idea is that as we wait on the Lord’s return, we are to strengthen our hearts or put another way, we are to stand firm in our faith.
The point isn’t the length of how long we wait, but the need for us to remain firm (and to keep the farmer illustration) while we wait for the harvest.
And the idea of remaining firm or strengthening our hearts should remind us of the beginning of the letter, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” and “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life.”
Through life’s difficulties and as we patiently wait for the Lord to return, we are to strengthen our hearts in order for us to stand firm on our faith.
The question really then becomes, how does James expect them to establish their hearts or strengthen their hearts.
And in context, the idea of strengthening or establishing their hearts means to confirm its faith through endurance.
Paul gives the Thessalonians the same exhortation to establish their hearts as they waited for the return of Jesus and the author of Hebrews commended the idea of “Strengthening of the heart by grace.”
Which gives us insight into what James is saying, that as they patiently wait for Jesus and as they struggle in the midst of temptations and trials, they are to adhere themselves to their faith. The believers need to strengthen themselves for the struggle against sin and to endure difficult situations.
Now, in this particular paragraph, James doesn’t exactly tell them how to strengthen themselves, but remember, this is a letter that would’ve been read at the same time, so let’s reflect a little bit on some of what James has told the believers to do throughout his letter.
We’re told in James 1:2-4 that trials in life and the testing of our faith will produce steadfastness and when steadfastness has its full affect, we will be mature. In other words, our hearts are strengthened in our faith when we face trials and overcome them.
We’re told in James 1:22-25 to be doers of the word and not hearers only and that if we are doers of the word and we persevere, we will be blessed in our doing. Part of that blessing is a strengthening of our faith or the strengthening of our hearts.
We’re told in James 1:27 that true religion is to keep oneself unstained from the world and to care for those who are neglected. In keeping ourselves unstained from the world and loving those around us, we strengthen our own faith.
We’re told in James 3:13-18 that true wisdom is revealed in works and any wisdom that is from bitter jealousy and selfish ambition isn’t true wisdom. By rejected earthly, unspiritual, and demonic wisdom and seeking for true wisdom we are strengthening our hearts in our faith.
We’re warned in James 4:1-12, that fighting from within the body of Christ actually comes from our lack of desire of God. We’re told to repent from our sinful desire and to draw near to God. In rejecting sin and drawing near to God, our hearts and our faith is strengthened.
Even in James 4:13-5:6, which was this past Wednesday’s message, our hearts are strengthened when we stop boasting about ourselves, our accomplishments, and our riches and instead boast about Jesus Christ.
So James has been building to this idea of strengthening or establishing of the believers hearts since the beginning of his letter.
They are to establish their hearts on their faith by doing all the things that James has written about because they know that the coming of the Lord is at hand—they know that Jesus will return soon.
He then makes a statement and this statement seems a bit out of place (almost like a parenthetical phrase), but he says, “Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold the Judge is standing at the door.”
And like I said, this sentence seems a bit out of place, but if we remember the context, there is a bit to be said for the connection of incoming judgment as in, let’s not grumble against one another in order that we aren’t judged, but I think there’s a bit more to how this fits in as well.
In the overall context of James, we find the believers in a situation concerning difficulties and the pressures of life bearing down against them. In any situation in which we feel pressured and worn-down, our reaction tends to be disunity and grumbling against those who are closest to us.
As life gets more difficult and struggles abound, we tend to grumble (which elsewhere is translated as groan or sigh against each other. In our frustration, we start to get frustrated with one another.
The term “grumble” is used in Exodus when the Israelites are oppressed by the Egyptians and they “groan” in their slavery and they cry out to God for help. In their oppression or in their struggles in life, they grumble.
The difference is that in James 5, the grumbling is aimed at each other, so they aren’t grumbling and groaning and crying out because of their afflictions and their struggles in life, they’re grumbling and groaning against each other—and in doing this, they criticize each other sinfully and it places themselves into danger of judgment from God.
And as a reminder, James states that “the Judge is standing at the door.”
Do not grumble against each other because the judge is at the door or in other words, as Davids says, “The nearness of the [return of Jesus Christ] is not just an impetus to look forward to the judgement of ‘sinners’ . . ., but it is also a warning to examine one’s behavior so that when the one whose footsteps are nearing finally knocks on the door, one may be prepared to open. . . The coming Lord is also the judge of the [believer].”
And the implication here is significant because we sometimes have the idea that after salvation we’re free to do whatever we want, but first off, true repentance requires a change of attitude and mind, so if you say a prayer and walk away to continue in your sin, you haven’t actually repented and you probably haven’t actually experienced salvation
But for those that are true believers in Jesus Christ, we sometimes think that there is no judgment remaining for us; and that is true in the sense of judgment for sin. Our sin was nailed to the cross because of the work of Jesus Christ.
But 2 Corinthians 5:10, tells us that we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive what is due whether good or evil. Which means that even as believers, we will still be judged according to our actions and that’s what James is speaking about here.
Do not grumble against each other, because the day of judgment is coming when we’ll all be judged according to our works—even though salvation was freely given through Jesus Christ, we are still accountable for our actions and we will still be judged in how we live
And James is stating that the judge is imminent; he’s almost here.
James tells them to patiently wait for the Lord despite the hardships of life that they’re suffering through; he tells them that while they wait, they should establish or strengthen their hearts because the Lord is at hand. And then he encourages them to remain steadfast by reminding them of godly examples that experienced hardship and yet remained steadfast.
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.
Remain Steadfast until the Coming of the Lord (10-11)
Remain Steadfast until the Coming of the Lord (10-11)
James tells them as an example, “take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” And in saying this, he’s returned from the parenthetical sentence in Vs. 9 to his main point. He is reinforcing his point of establishing their hearts in the faith and remaining steadfast in their faith despite the hardships that they’re experiencing.
And in reinforcing his point of establishing their hearts he tells them to look at the prophets, but he doesn’t actually give us examples of prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord and suffered, but it doesn’t take long while reading the prophets to determine that Israel didn’t always have the best reception of the prophets.
In case you don’t know what a prophet is, let me take a minute to explain what they are—prophets were called by God to “Speak forth” or “advocate” for God. Sometimes we think that a prophet simply tells the future, but that isn’t always the case and when a prophet does predict the future it is only ever one part of his message in the Bible.
In the Bible, prophets were teachers that were utilized to speak out against corruption and they also delivered visions of the future.
In the Bible, there are 133 named prophets and the very first one is Abraham and God actually calls him a prophet, Genesis 20:7, “God spoke to Abimelech in dream, saying, ‘Now then, return [Abraham’s] wife, for [Abraham] is a prophet, so that he will pray for you and you will live.”
Jacob and Joseph both had dreams given to them from God
Moses was called a “man of God” and Deuteronomy 34:10 says that he was one of the greatest prophets.
In the New Testament, John the Baptist gave a prophecy of the Messiah
Ananias was given a prophecy about Paul’s future work in the church
And it is clear, in many of the examples that are given throughout the Bible, that usually, the prophets of God were despised by Israel. The Israelites refused to listen to the prophets
Isaiah describes Israel as a “rebellious people” and “deceitful children that were unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction” and Isaiah accused them of not wanting to be told what is right, but they would rather hear pleasant things (which sounds like an accurate rebuke of our modern church era)
Perhaps the best example of a prophet being ignored by the people and experiencing suffering in their ministry, is that of the prophet Jeremiah
Jeremiah is called by God to be a Prophet in Jeremiah 1. This is a handful of years before King Josiah took the throne of Judah and turned the nation back towards Yahweh, which means that when Jeremiah is called a prophet, Israel is still very much against Yahweh and for their false gods and God called Jeremiah to reveal the sins of the people and reveal the impending judgment of God.
So throughout his ministry, Jeremiah preached throughout Israel condemning idolatry, condemning the greed of the priests, and condemning the false prophets
And then, he began to suffer severe persecution. The men of Anathoth plotted to murder him and the high priest Pashur, had Jeremiah beaten and put in the stocks. Jeremiah 20:7 recalls a lament of Jeremiah in which he expresses a lament over the difficulty that preaching has caused him and expresses the regret that he has of becoming a target of laughing and mockery.
While Jeremiah, the true prophet of the Lord was preaching and prophesying about incoming judgment, a number of false prophets were preaching about peace and Jeremiah confronted them about it. Jeremiah 28 speaks about Jeremiah utilizing a yoke to show that Israel would be subject to Babylon. The false prophet Hananiah opposed Jeremiah’s message, he took the yoke off Jeremiah and broke it claiming that in two years the Lord would break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Jeremiah was correct.
King Zedekiah, who was the king of Judah during Jeremiah’s reign, had officials that all wanted Jeremiah dead and attempted to persuade the king to put his to death because Jeremiah was discouraging the people and the soldiers and Zedekiah allowed the officials to drop Jeremiah into a cistern in the hopes that Jeremiah would starve to death. Someone did rescue him by pulling him out of the cistern, but he remained in prison until Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians and the Babylonians, who were utilized by God to judge the nation of Israel, showed Jeremiah great kindness and allowed him to choose a place to live.
The very nation who Jeremiah had been prophesying would destroy Israel, treated Jeremiah kindly, but the nation of Israel rejected him, ridiculed him, and persecuted him because they didn’t like his message.
Jeremiah was rejected by Israel, but he persevered and he remained faithful. Jeremiah was steadfast and that is what James is calling us to remember. We are to think about the examples in the Bible because despite great adversity, they had established their hearts and they remained faithful.
James says, Vs. 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”
James makes the statement that we consider those who remained steadfast blessed. Despite the various hardships of their lives, the fact that these prophets all persevered is the reason why they’re called blessed and the correlation is that all believers who persevere are now called blessed. Acts 5:41, mentions that the apostles rejoiced “because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name [of Jesus].” The acceptance of their conditions and the acceptance of their suffering led to them being called blessed by both other believers and by God.
And then James calls out a specific example of someone who persevered. He specifically reminds us of Job
A great man of God who lived in the land of Uz that according to the Bible, “was blameless and upright, [he] feared God and turned away from evil,” and Satan accuses him of only serving Yahweh because Yahweh protected him.
Through a series of trials, Satan takes everything from Job, except his life—Satan takes his possessions, Satan takes his health, Satan takes his children and yet Job perseveres in his faith in God.
And despite Job’s complaining in the book of Job, his faith in God remains. In the midst of confusion, he clung to God.
As Barclay says, “‘Job’s is no groveling, passive, unquestioning submission; Job struggled and questioned, and sometimes even defied, but the flame of faith was never extinguished in his heart.’”
James says that Job is such a great example of perseverance that “you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful”
Despite Job’s suffering that we witness by reading the account of his life in the book of Job, we see a great deal of what James calls “the purpose of the Lord”
Yes, Job suffered great traumatic events throughout his life, but the purpose was never to highlight the traumatic events; the point is actually to show the goodness of God despite the traumatic events.
Despite Satan taking everything from Job, the Lord still deals compassion and mercy to Job and that’s reflected at the end of Job when in Job 42:10, “The Lord restored the fortunes of Job . . . and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before . . . and Job experienced sympathy and comfort for all the disaster that had been brought on him,” and at the very end of the book of Job, we’re told that “Job died, an old man, and full of days.”
Essentially, what James is attempting to get across to his readers is this, “Your present suffering . . . is not the ‘end’ of the story; God will transform your situation for good when Christ is revealed in glory.” (Douglas Moo, PNTC, 230)
James has taught us that despite all of the suffering that we experience in life, that we need to establish our hearts and remain steadfast in our faith. He’s told us to look at the examples of the prophets and look at the example of Job as individuals who despite great suffering persevered in their faith and then he has one final statement to make at the end of this paragraph. And this final statement seems out of place and it seems as if it can be a standalone command, but I’m viewing it in light of the impending judgment that James mentions in Vs. 7-9. Or put another way, because the end of Vs. 12, also mentions judgment, it seems appropriate that it should be considered as part of Vs. 7-11, not as a standalone topic and not concerning the final paragraph that constitutes a statement about prayer.
12 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.
Reject Oaths in order to prevent Condemnation (12)
Reject Oaths in order to prevent Condemnation (12)
James finishes this paragraph with a statement to reject the giving of oaths in order to prevent falling into condemnation and there are a number of things that we can say about this, but we’ll really only look at a handful.
The phrase “above all,” does not mean that this sentence is more important than all of the sins that James lists throughout his letter. James is not making the point that we should reject committing all of these sins, but the sin of breaking an oath is worse than all the other sins—that mindset is the very issue that he’s confronting when he makes the statement that if you’re guilty of breaking one law, you’re guilty of breaking the whole law.
No, what this phrase is probably referring to is the immediate context. So, we are to be patient until the coming of the Lord, we are to Establish our hearts until the coming of the Lord, we aren’t to grumble against one another, we are to remember the prophets who persevered; but above all of this, we need to reject taking oaths, but rather let our yes be yes and our no be no.
And we have to actually make a distinction, because even in our modern-day life, there are times when we’re required to make an oath; for instance, when someone gets married, they’re making an oath to their spouse in the presence of all the witnesses and God. If you were to ever go to court, you are required to make an oath promising to tell the truth.
Police officers, military personnel, even the president of the United States take oaths and all of those oaths are completely acceptable.
What James is talking about isn’t official oaths, but rather the use of oaths in everyday discussion to prove our integrity. And we’ve all been guilty of this, when children are trying to convince their friends of something, they’ll say something like, “I swear on my mother’s grave.”
And we typically don’t think anything about it, but that swearing on his mother’s grave is an oath to prove that what he’s saying is legitimate.
As adults, we typically will say the words, “I promise” when we really mean something and want to assure someone that we will actually do what we say we will. That phrase, “I promise” is in essence an oath.
And anytime we make an oath, as believers, we’re expected to keep that oath and the reasoning why, according to 1 and 2 Corinthians, is that the church is expected to be absolutely truthful in all speech and since we all as believers make up the church, we also are expected to be absolutely truthful in all speech.
So, the oaths that James speaks of here aren’t official oaths, they’re unnecessary oaths that are easy to break and when we break them, it damages our testimony.
James’ reasoning for rejecting unnecessary oaths in James 5, is two-fold:
He says to “let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no
Or in other words, Christians are to be so truthful that when they say “yes” or when they say “no” there’s no question that they’re telling the truth.
The concept is that there would be no reason to take an unnecessary oath because people can trust them enough to know that if they say something, it can be taken seriously.
And then he mentions the second reason, “So that you may not fall under condemnation.”
We’re told in Matthew 12:36, that we’ll give an account for every idle word that we say and the idea isn’t necessarily that we should determine which words we actually mean and which words we don’t. Jesus in Matthew 12, is expressing the fact that even when we don’t mean what we say, we’ll be held accountable for it
So, when James says to not give unnecessary oaths so that you may not fall under condemnation, this is exactly what he’s thinking of. If we’re held accountable for every idle word that we don’t mean, how much more are we held accountable for oaths that we break—whether we intended to keep that oath or not?
I mentioned that there’s debate as to where this sentence fits, whether it goes with the section of Scripture we studied today, or it goes with the next paragraph, or if its a standalone thought and I want to explain why I think this goes with our paragraph for today:
First off, just looking at the context, the concept of condemnation for breaking oaths fit with the theme of judgment that is inherently part of the coming of the Lord. It makes more sense to read this in conjunction with a section concerning judgment than it does to read it into a section concerning prayer.
Secondly, some have stated that it might be a standalone statement, but I disagree for two reasons:
After studying the rest of James, it seems pretty clear that he typically didn’t utilize standalone statements, so why would he start at the end of the letter?
Not to mention, the word usage at the beginning of Vs. 12, doesn’t really allow it to be standalone, “But above all” heavily implies that it is to be considered in conjunction with another passage.
And you may wonder why this is even important to talk about, and it’s for this reason: the application of this verse relies on what it refers to in the context.
So, if its a standalone statement, which I don’t think it is, it heavily implies that the swearing and breaking of oaths is a far worse sin than all the other sins that James mentions throughout his letter.
If it refers to prayer, which is what the next section is about, then it relegates the whole next section to being a series of proverbial statements to end the book, but what our study of James 5:13-20 on Wednesday, will teach us, is that James is finishing the entire letter with a coherent message, not a bunch of random statements.
No, if this works in conjunction with James statement to be patient in the midst of trials for the coming of the Lord, the meaning of Vs 12 concerns persecution. Which means that James is telling them that in the midst of persecution while they wait for the coming of the Lord:
They are to let their “yes” be yes and their “no” be no and they are to not swear unnecessary oaths
Which means that even in the midst of persecution, they should still tell the truth and they should still be people of integrity—which is difficult because in the midst of strong persecution against believers, to tell the truth can cost them their lives
And they are not to utilize unnecessary oaths in the midst of persecution, because they will be held accountable for it—and the idea is that they shouldn’t be swearing anything they don’t intend to keep.
Because even in the midst of persecution, they are still responsible for their sin.
In the midst of all the persecution, the trials, and hardships of life, they are to be patient and wait for the coming of the Lord; they are to Establish their hearts on their faith; they are to consider examples of steadfast believers in Scripture; and they are to be people of integrity.
Now, that may be a significant amount of information to take in, so let me help you with some application
Be patient during suffering until the Lord return (7-8a)
James makes it very clear that the Lord is coming--For an unbeliever, the fact that Jesus is returning ought to cause them to reflect on their own lives. The Bible tells us that the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ and we’re told the only way to experience that salvation is by repenting from our former lifestyles and turning to Jesus
The only way to experience that salvation through Jesus is to repent, believe in your heart that Jesus was raised from the dead and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.
Until our conviction of results in true repentance and true belief in Jesus Christ, the return of Jesus Christ should cause us to be concerned
Because for those that don’t believe, the return of Jesus Christ results in judgment for your sins
I hope and pray that you recognize that Jesus hasn’t returned yet, because God is being patient, hoping that with a little extra time, all would come to repentance. I hope and pray, that if you aren’t a believer in Jesus Christ yet, that you seriously consider your life today, repent, and turn to Jesus.
James makes it very clear that the Lord is coming—that statement for the believer is a statement of hope.
It means that despite the hardships in life, despite persecution, despite the struggle with sin that we all struggle with now; one day, our Lord Jesus Christ will return and the struggle will be no more.
While we deal with persecution, while we struggle with sin, and while we work through the hardships in life—remain hopeful and remain patient because Jesus will return one day, just like he promised to; and he who has promised is faithful.
As we wait for the return of Jesus Christ, we have hope for his return
Hope for him
Hope for us to be taken from a sin-cursed world
And hope for the future
As we wait for the return of the Lord, we are to Establish our hearts (8-9)
What does it mean to establish our hearts? To establish our hearts means to strengthen our hearts and we strengthen our hearts by enduring in faith
That means that we actively reject sin—in doing so our faith is strengthened
That means we actively seek Jesus—in doing so our faith is strengthened
That means that we actively seek to apply the word of God to our lives—in doing so our faith is strengthened
That means that in order for our faith to be strengthened
We cannot continue willfully sinning—in doing so, our faith will be strengthened—James 4:17, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin”
We have to recognize what sin is—by studying Scripture. Paul writes to the Romans that the law brings knowledge of sin. Put another way, the study of the law allows us to recognize what sin is. The law is Scripture, particularly the Old Testament, but it is clear even in the New Testament what is sinful and what is right.
We have to reject that sin—in some cases, it’s as simple as saying and committing in our hearts not to allow a sin to consume us. For instance, we can reject the sin of lying simply by not telling lies or we can reject the sin of covetousness by learning to be content with what we have. In some cases, we need to find help in rejecting certain sins. And in cases concerning sins that we need help with, the key is to admit we need help and find someone that can help us.
And we have to continue rejecting sin—the rejection of sin is a daily command and just because we have victory rejecting sin one day, doesn’t mean we’ll always have victory rejecting sin. It is a day-by-day battle against sin that we can only win because of what Jesus did on the cross and we can only fight against that sin when we’re fighting against sin with Jesus.
We need to take our relationship with Jesus seriously—in doing so, our faith will be strengthened
Our relationship with Jesus Christ has to last beyond Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. Any relationship that we want to grow, requires time and commitment. It is very much the same in our relationship with Jesus Christ.
If the only time that we spend working on our relationship with Jesus is Sunday morning and Wednesday evening, at best, we’re spending just over two hours a week developing our relationship with God. There are 168 hours in a week, two out of 168 hours is just barely over 1% of our time.
We cannot expect to grow in faith, if over 99% of the week, we don’t think about Jesus, we don’t communicate with Jesus, or we don’t seek Jesus
We cannot expect to grow, if only 1% of our week is actually given to God
If we truly believe what we claim to believe when we call ourselves Christians, then we need to take our relationship with Jesus Christ, for whom our religious beliefs are named after, seriously.
That means spending more than 1% of our time each week praying and it means spending more than 1% of our time each week reading God’s word.
If we truly take our relationship with Jesus seriously, we are to take the time and make the effort
Part of taking our relationship with Jesus seriously, is taking the word of God seriously—in doing so, our faith will be strengthened
We should be reading, we should be listening to, we should be surrounding ourselves with the word of God
We should be meditating day and night on the truths reflected in Scripture
And we should be desirous of the truth that is reflected in Scripture.
Remain Steadfast until the Coming of the Lord (10-11)
James tells us to remain steadfast until the coming of the Lord and he tells us to look at examples of suffering and patience. He utilizes the prophets and Job as examples of suffering and patience.
We look at these examples throughout Scripture not because they were perfect in their lives. Rather, through their imperfection and their faithfulness we can see the goodness of God.
He utilizes the prophets and Job to remind us that even in our imperfection, it is possible to endure in our faith until the coming of the Lord
He utilizes the prophets and Job to remind us that even in the midst of hardships, it is possible to endure in our faith until the coming of the Lord.
The prophets and Job are not the only examples of enduring faith in the Bible and what might help you as you seek to remain faithful is to look at more examples; so sometime this week, turn to Hebrews 11 and study it
Hebrews 11 is sometimes referred to as the “hall of fame of faith” and it gives a huge list of different people simply seeking to be faithful throughout the Bible despite hardships, despite sin, despite everything that we’re struggling with today.
Take some time this week and seriously study through it, go back in the Old Testament and read their accounts and reflect on how a perfect God utilizes imperfect people that were simply trying to stay faithful.
And lastly, until the return of the Lord and even in the midst of persecution remain people of integrity. (12)
Tell the truth, be honest; and have integrity.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep and don’t make promises you have no intention of keeping
But live as those that have experienced the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ
Even if there is persecution.
Put simply, remain steadfast in faith even if there is persecution because Jesus will return soon. Strengthen your faith by taking serious your relationship with Jesus Christ and investing time in your relationship with Jesus—dedicate time for prayer, dedicate time to read his word, draw near to God and he will draw near to you. And live as those who have experienced the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Wednesday at 7pm on Zoom—final message from James.