Summary: The imminency of Christ’s return should motivate us to remain steadfast in our faith.
The dictionary defines Imminent as “Coming or likely to happen very soon.” http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/imminent
James teaches us that the imminency of Christ’s return should motivate us to remain steadfast in our faith.
“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. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 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 5:7–11, ESV)
There are three predominant commands that guide the thought of these verses.
Be Patient (5:7),
Establish your hearts (5:8b),
Do not grumble (5:9).
Mixed in with these three commands are three illustrations demonstrating that the Lord’s return is imminent, thus motivating believers to obey these commands. The illustrations are that of a farmer waiting patiently for rain (5:7), the Old Testament prophets who remained faithful to the Lord through persecution and suffering (5:10), and Job who also remained faithful through suffering (5:11).
Our study today will focus on how knowledge of the imminent return of Christ motiviates Christians today to obey these three commands.
Christ’s Imminent Return Motivates us to Remain Faithful in the Trials of Life. James 5:7-8a. The main command in these verses is “be patient.”
James is returning to his initial theme of trials. James 1:2
He returns to the theme of “steadfastness” that we saw in the opening of the book.
“for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:3–4, ESV)
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12, ESV)
“But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:25, ESV)
“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” (James 2:1, ESV)
“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 5:11, ESV)
Here, “be patient” means to be “long tempered, ” to have a long fuse. James is encouraging these wavering Christians to think about the entire game and not quit in the third quarter because the opposition is tough. He encourages a marathon mentality toward life.
The ILLUSTRATION is of the Early and Late rains.
EARLY Rains = October-November. Helps seed to germinate and grow.
LATE rains - March-April. Ripens the fruit.
The early and later rains were vital for the agricultural society of Israel. This seasonal, life-giving rain is a picture of Messianic blessing frequently used in the OT.
““Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before.” (Joel 2:23, ESV)
The FARMER plants his crop anticipating the rain. He works faithfully, through difficult circumstances, but his work is dependent on something that only God can do. He PERSEVERES and is REWARDED.
8b “you also be patient.” James encapsulates this first command about patience.
Endure the hardships of living for God
Don’t walk away from your faith to follow worldly wisdom
Don’t rush things. God will accomplish his work
No matter how hard things get here on earth, our true home is Heaven! Serve God on earth so that you will have reward in heaven. “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” (Matthew 25:21, ESV)
Christ’s Imminent Return Motivates us to Strengthen our Hearts to Serve the Lord. (James 5:8b). Here, we follow the second command, translated as “strengthen your hearts” in the NASB.
WHY? Because“The coming of the Lord is at hand”
This is the Greek word “Parusia.” The idea here is that BELIEVERS will give an account when the Lord returns. This occurs at the RAPTURE of the Church. Although parousia can refer to Christ’s return in judgment of the nations, the context here is the accountability that believers have in light of the Lord’s return, and the rewards or lack or rewards that they will receive.