Summary: James tells us why we should be patient in the face of injustice.
One of predominant themes found in the book of James is that of “problems.” Another reoccurring theme is “prayer.” Still another is “patience.” Here, we find James exhorting his readers to be patient and prayerful in the face of their problems. James cites three reasons why we should be patient, even in the face of injustice.
1. Be patient - Justice will Prevail - vs. 1-6
James decries the unjust actions of those who deprive others of wages due them (v. 4) and denying others the justice due them (v. 6). He speaks of those who have profited from the misfortune of others (v. 5) and speaks of their inevitable downfall (vs. 1-4).
Now, James is not criticizing wealth here, but wickedness. Wickedness that leads to selfishness which expresses itself ultimately in a “get ahead at any cost” attitude. An attitude that anyone is expendable and anything is permissible, as long as I get what I want; and result in actions that are unjust. Be patient, James says, justice will prevail.
An umpire named Babe Pinelli once called Babe Ruth out on strikes. When the crowd booed with sharp disapproval at the call, the legendary Ruth turned to the umpire with disdain and said, “There’s 40,000 people here who know that the last pitch was ball, tomato head.” Suspecting that the umpire would erupt with anger, the coaches and players braced themselves for Ruth’s ejection. However, the cool headed Pinelli replied, “Maybe so, Babe, but mine is the only opinion that counts.” God WILL have the last word and the final say!
One ball player complained to the umpire about a call he had made. In protest, he threw his bat high into the air. The Umpire told him, “If that bat comes back down to the ground, you’re out of this game.”
Listen, just as surely as we know Christ will return, we can count on the fact that one day, all wrongs will be made right, all injustice will be will corrected.
“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God.” - 1 Thessalonians 4:16 (NLT)
A student asked his Bible college professor, “What will He shout?” The professor asked him to clarify his question. He said, “In 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Paul says that the Lord will descend from heaven with a shout. What will he shout?” The professor thought for a while and came up with this answer: “I think He will shout ‘ENOUGH!’ Enough sorrow, enough sickness, enough grief, enough war, enough poverty, enough oppression, enough darkness, enough sin! Enough!”
Until Christ returns, as His followers, we are to endeavor to reach out to those in this world who are lost and those who are least. As we seek to build His kingdom through proclaiming the Good News and performing good deeds, we can do what we can to promote justice; and we should do so gladly, knowing that as long as the Lord tarries His return, there is still opportunity for one more person to come to faith in Christ.
“The Lord isn’t slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost.” - 2 Peter 3:9 (Easy to Read)
But one day, there will come an end to even the patience of God, and He will have had enough. And when that day arrives, so will Jesus; and He will make all things new!
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” - Revelation 21:4-5 (NIV)
2. Be patient - Jesus will Return - vs. 7-8
Yes, justice will prevail because Jesus will return! Therefore, James says, like the farmer who patiently waits for the land to yield its
valuable crop, be patient and wait for the Lord’s return, when all that was allowed to happen in the seasons of our life will be made clear.
There are seasons to life just as there are seasons to the soil. Sometimes, our hearts are cold and wintery, and the Lord has to “plow us up” before He can plant the seed of His Word in our hearts to bring forth good fruit. Other times, God has to “prune us back” so that we might be more fruitful. But in any case, God is at work in our lives, even at times through the injustice of this selfish, sinful world, to