Summary: Patience is often defined in the Bible as longsuffering. Patience is an attitude of the heart. It is a virtue and in the eyes of God it is very valuable. He wants all of His children to have it.
“God’s Waiting Room”
About ten years ago I had the bright idea that I would play football with a group of teenagers from the church. Tackle football. One of the first times that I got the ball 3 of them came up to me and grabbed me by my left arm and began to swing me in a circle until I fell to the ground. I felt something move in my shoulder. So I had to have two separate procedures done on my shoulder. During my follow-up I went to see the surgeon. I recall that I had an appointment at 1:00 that day. I waited…2:00, 2:30, 3:00, 3:30…finally when it was almost 4:00 they called me in. Clearly that’s why they call it the waiting room. I don’t like waiting rooms. And I’m not really sure that I know anyone who does.
Let me ask you, how are YOU in the area of patience. There are times when God places us in the waiting room of life. Now I don’t know about you but it seems to me that people today are more impatient than ever before. We have gotten so accustomed to having things quickly that when we have to wait on anything we grow very impatient. On a daily basis, we wait
• In traffic
• Kids wait to grow up
• Teenagers wait to finish school
• Senior adults wait to retire
• We wait for a job
• We go in at 8:00 and can hardly wait for 5:00 to come.
Every day we have one opportunity after another to learn how to wait.
In this passage today James addresses the topic of patience. The people James was writing to were experiencing great persecution. Their lives were very difficult. So James gives them some simple advice… here it is. Be patient. But it’s not that easy is it. It’s not enough to tell someone to be patient. We have to show them how. And that is what he does today.
Patience is often defined in the Bible as longsuffering. Patience is an attitude of the heart. It is a virtue and in the eyes of God it is very valuable. He wants all of His children to have it. Patience is listed as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and the only way it can be developed is when we walk through a trial. No other way. If you want patience you will have to face something difficult. The story is told of a young Christian who went to an older man who had walked with the Lord for many years. He said I want to become more patient and I don’t know how. He said, simple, Let’s pray. The man prayed for him and this was his prayer, “Lord send this young man tribulation for breakfast, problems for lunch and suffering for supper.” It’s the only way.
The word, patient is used 4 times here, twice in v. 7, once in v. 8 and again in .v 10. James illustrates patience by holding up the life of a farmer. All of us can learn a lot about faith from those who farm. Farmers plow and plant their seeds and then they wait for the rain. Then they wait some more. Besides prayer there is nothing a farmer can do to make it rain. So they just wait. They treat their crops with chemicals. Then they wait some more. They wait until just the right time and then they harvest their crop.
This illustration of the farmer tells me at least 3 things. (1) God’s purposes are worked out over long periods of time. God doesn’t work on our schedule. We have to learn to work on His. There is no need to try and rush God; there is no need to try to get ahead of God--- we must somehow learn to function in His timing. Why? Because His timing is always best. He is rarely known to be early but He is always known to be on time.
(2) Although we do the work, the harvest depends on God. Always. In Matthew we find the story of Jesus; He is going through the villages and towns, teaching, preaching and healing people. Then Jesus sees the crowds and the Bible says He has compassion on them because they are like sheep without a shepherd. Then He says to his disciples, the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. So ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers. Now herein lies the problem in many churches today. There are simply not enough workers.
Look again at this. The harvest is plentiful. In other words, God wants to bless his churches… there’s a great harvest waiting; but there’s simply not enough workers. You say well cant God do it without us? Of course, but He has chosen not to. He has chosen to use us. It is our privilege to work for Him.