In today’s passage, James turns his attention from the wicked wealthy to the righteous they were persecuting. He offers guidance on how to respond to their abuses.
Jam. 5:7-9 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. (8) Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. (9) Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
James doesn’t let his readers have any fun. First, he tells them to rejoice in their trials (1:2). Now he tells them to be patient in response to fraud, wantonness, and condemnation by the rich. We don’t get to get mad or get even. The compound word translated “be patient” could literally be translated “little heat.’ Don’t the wicked make you lose your cool. David said the same thing in the Psalms:
Psa. 37:7-11 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. (8) Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. (9) For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. (10) For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. (11) But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
Don’t get impatient. The seeds of our deeds eventually produce a harvest – for good or evil.
Gal. 6:7-9 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (8) For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (9) And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
God commands us to endure mistreatment and hardship in the knowledge that He will set things right.
Rom. 12:19-21 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. (20) Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. (21) Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Reacting to life’s trials that way takes divine strength. Fortunately, God offers us that strength. We can do more than just slog through life, smiling through gritted teeth. We can be:
Col. 1:11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
The Coming of the Lord
How long do we have to put up with this? It’s a reasonable question. Others have asked it:
Psa. 74:10-11 O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever? (11) Why withdrawest thou thy hand, even thy right hand? pluck it out of thy bosom.
Rev. 6:10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
James answers without hesitation or apology – until “the coming of the Lord.” He will return to set things right. Then He will judge:
Rom. 2:5-8 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; (6) Who will render to every man according to his deeds: (7) To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: (8) But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
Until then, we wait, resting in the faithfulness of Him who promised. We need to settle it in our hearts. Life isn’t a TV show where all problems are solved in an hour or two, minus commercials. God may intervene before then, but we don’t get to fly off the handle if He doesn’t. Our charge is to wait confidently.
Grudge Not Brethren
If we are going to have that kind of patience toward wicked people who are actively trying to hurt us, how much more should we be able to be patient with each other?
Eph. 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (32) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
God commands us to offer others the kind of forgiveness He has extended to us. Never was anyone more innocent than Christ was. No one ever suffered more than He did. He endured all that because of us, and for us. Surely, one forgiven sinner can be patient with another.
If we fail in this area, the judge is at the door and we will be found guilty when he steps through it. He will say to us:
Mat. 18:32-33 …O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: (33) Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
How Are You Doing?
- Are you enduring life’s trials with patient confidence in the Lord?
- Are you willing to wait until Christ’s return to see the wrong set right?
- Are you holding grudges against any of your brothers or sisters in Christ? If so, what are you going to do about it?
Read James 5:10-11 for tomorrow. It’s a short passage, but you can add to you reading by searching for some of the stories of patient prophets that James mentions.