Summary: This message gives come ’bullet-like’ points to be ready for His coming as well as to how to live life.
* In 1998 the four-time Governor of Alabama George Wallace died, but before his death he openly admitted that when he stood at the door of the University of Alabama and denied entrance to blacks, he was wrong. He apologized for that action and became something of a hero for repenting of his intolerance and recanting those views. I affirm that change of mind in him. Yet, when his great moment in history came, he was not prepared and he missed his great opportunity.
* Charles Colson also repented of his role in the infamous Watergate affair. He is now involved in full-time Christian work, has authored books, and has been an advocate of prison reform. His conversion is truly a genuine one and I affirm that. But the tragedy will always be there that when his great opportunity in history came, he was not prepared, and he missed it.
* The life of Jesus and now the Word of God speaks through time to help us prepare for eternity. In these 6 verses, we hear the echo of be ready, be prepared, and even be on the lookout for the Lord’s return. Verse 7, 8, and 9 calls us to be ready for the Lord’s coming because His coming is near and in fact, He (the judge) is standing at the door ready to return! Verse 12 is an imperative to get your heart & mouth right so you won’t fall under God’s judgment.
* I submit we see four calls for us, if we are going to ‘get ready.’
1. Be Patient (Vs 7) – Dr. Rick Lance spoke, in the Community Revival, about patience; even admitting he didn’t have patience. He even told a story about his patience being tested in a doctor’s office. Patience is such a needed characteristic that James mentions the word 3 times in two verses and then comes back to it in verses 10 and 11. The word stresses non-retaliation, hold your spirit in check (don’t lose your temper), and implies the ability to keep you composure for a long period of time while under duress. It is a characteristic of God’s love (1 Corinthians 13) and a fruit of God’s spirit (Gal 5).
* Think about it this way, ‘Patience is a trait you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the driver ahead of you.’ It is one that every person wishes their spouse had. Life would be easier if we displayed as much patience at home as we do fishing, hunting, or shopping.
* For the person who is not patient, troubles lay ahead. Proverbs 25:28, ?A man who does not control his temper is like a city whose wall is broken down. Think about the city (in those days) without a wall. They were vulnerable, exposed, and weak. This means you become all these things without patience.
2. Be Strong – Our text says, “strengthen your hearts” while the NIV says “stand firm” and the KJV says “Stablish Your hearts.” The word really means to ‘become stronger’ and seemingly, the Greek word gives us our word “Steroid.” One part of the definition is this; ‘turn resolutely in a certain direction.’ In this definition we discover a modern-day problem and an eternal solution.
* The modern day problem is this – too many want to be on “God’s team” (as it were) and at the same time, be on the “World’s team.” They do not (and in many cases ‘will not’) give up their connection to this world. Trying to hang on to the world with one hand and the Lord is like trying to hold onto two horses at the same time. At some point “Your hand will be ripped free of one.” Many have become ‘fence-straddling’ church members. Oh, they want to do what is right, good, and godly, but they are not ‘strong enough’ to turn loose of a wrong attitude, a wrong relationship, or a wrong activity. Scripture still says no one can serve 2 masters! We will serve either the world or God. And we can never be spiritually strong collectively until we are spiritually strong individually. And we can never be spiritually strong individually until we ‘turn resolutely (that means ‘on purpose’ & with determination’) toward HIM!
* To be saved is to turn resolutely toward Him because you have heard His call. To be strong is to turn to Him completely with all you are. “Strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” & “Put on the whole armor of God” are but two of the ways and assurances that we can be strong. This requires daily time with the Lord, seeking His face, learning what HE wants.
3. Be Kind – The word kind does not appear in the text but its spirit is seen in these three words; “do not complain (murmur, grumble, bellyache, etc) about one another.” The KJV uses the term ‘grudge’ which illustrates there is not a real good English translation. It’s like holding a grudge but more, it’s like talking about someone but more, and finally it’s like a deep sigh. What words will be in our mouth “IF” we are griping about a brother when Jesus raptures us away? Do you really want to explain that at the judgment seat? “Well, Lord you know that just didn’t do what I WANTED them to do?” (so who are you?) “They acted kind of weird.” (according to who) “You don’t understand how much they hurt me.” (Really? You think?”) Do you realize where that fictitious conversation might well end up? With you on your face before the judge, in repentance. A part of this complaining word speaks about issues in our soul with a brother.