Summary: Message 25 in our James exposition. This message explores Jame's instruction for those suffering 5:7-13.
Chico Alliance Church
Pastor David Welch
“Faith’s Response to Suffering”
James serves as a mirror to examine the true nature of our trust in God. How we respond to the various events of life reveal the state of our faith. True trust in God’s provision enables us to respond according to God’s ways.
True faith enables wise living. This letter contains numerous life instruction requiring genuine faith in God. Along with those instructions James included divine insights to help us understand the logic behind those instructions. So far, we have explored several life categories requiring a faith response.
I. Faith’s response to trials and temptation 1:2-27
II. Faith’s response to partiality and prejudice 2:1-13
III. Faith’s true nature 2:14-26
IV. Faith’s response to conversation 3:1-12
V. Faith’s way of life 3:13-4:12
VI. Faith’s response to God’s will 4:13-17
Today we continue our exploration of another aspect of life requiring a faith response.
VII. Faith’s response to suffering and persecution 5:1-12
James first seeks to encourage persecuted Christians by calling them to realize the ultimate plight of the selfish persecutor
A. Realize the ultimate prize of the enduring persecuted
Last time we focused on the persecutors and their ultimate plight.
1. Their condemnation is certain
They are storing up a treasure of wrath at the coming of the Lord.
2. Their crime is clear.
James exposed the sins of the rich persecutors.
a. Withholding just wages
b. Luxuriously living
c. Wanton pleasure
d. Heartless persecution
James encourage them to take heart – consider their end. Remember! Vengeance is mine declares the Lord. James then addressed those suffering persecutions. He penned both instruction and insight regarding faith’s response to suffering.
B. Realize the ultimate prize of longsuffering endurance
James issued four basic instructions regarding suffering. He included three examples of a healthy response to suffering.
1. The circumstance
The context clearly refers to persecution by the selfish rich. The use of “therefore” ties the two passages together. The instruction applies to more than persecution. James expands on persecution specifically to suffering in general. The term suffering has to do with bad feelings or what makes one feel bad.
Considering examples James uses, suffering includes the struggle of everyday life in general to the complete loss of everything.
The Bible extensively addresses the subject of trials and suffering.
Misfortune, calamity, affliction
Bear hardship, receive or suffer hard blows from without
Distressed by outward circumstances
Distressed by inner emotional upheaval
It is no respecter of Persons
Stress and suffering are experienced by believer and unbeliever alike. Contrary to some teaching, God does not promise the Christian suffering free living. In fact, He promises the opposite.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Joh 16:33
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 2 Timothy 3:12
It never arrives announced
Sooner or later tragedy will march into your own living room. It is only a matter of time until your emotions will be assaulted, and your composure erased by the sound of a siren in the night or a cry or the jolt of a 2AM phone call. You can't choose the time or place or intensity of the pain the penetrates your soul and often shakes the very foundations of your faith. What happens is outside our control. We can choose how we respond. James includes specific instructions for those suffering.
2. The Commands (instructions)
a. Suffer Long
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. 5:7
The command translated “be patient” comes from the marriage of two Greek terms. “makro” meaning long and “thumos” meaning passion, anger, temper. The result is a term meaning long anger, long tempered. The concept has to do with controlling any negative response to a person or event for an extended period of time. It’s the opposite of the reaction of the flesh listed in Galatians 5 “outburst of anger.” It is one of the characteristics (fruit) of one directed by the Holy Spirit. It describes bearing up or forbearing difficulty by consideration of future events.
James even includes the period of time one should refrain from negative response.
UNTIL the coming of the Lord.
He included an example or illustration of long-suffering.
The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being long-suffering about it, until it gets the early and late rains. James 5:7
Be like the farmer patiently waiting until the proper time. The farmer realizes that no amount of fretting or complaining will accelerate the growing process. He must submit to the process. He doesn’t waste the emotional energy, knowing things happen on a time schedule. James instructed them to be like the long-suffering farmer waiting for the right time.