Summary: We are not to expect to have life easy & comfortable. Our great expectation is the blessed hope of Jesus' return. That event brings our eternal rewards. We must patiently endure hardships & heartaches until Jesus returns.
HOW PATIENCE IS DEVELOPED
From addressing abusive rich non-believers James turns again to restless suffering saints. Learn endurance was his counsel at the beginning of his letter (1:1-5). Be patient and endure is his continued counsel as his letter comes to a tender and loving close. The reason we are exhorted to patience is that God is not going to right all the wrong's in this world, until Jesus Christ returns. Thus believers are encouraged to patiently endure and expect suffering.
We are not to expect to have life easy and comfortable. Jesus told us that, "In the world you will have tribulation" (Jn. 16:33). Our great expectation is the blessed hope of Jesus' return. That event brings our eternal rewards. We must patiently endure hardships and heartaches until Jesus returns (CIT). This will be a day of reckoning for our oppressors and a day of glory for us. But while we wait there are things that need our patient and enduring attention.
I. ESSENCE OF PATIENCE, 7-9.
II. EXAMPLES OF PATIENCE, 10-11.
III. EVIDENCE OF PATIENCE, 12.
In verse 7 James begins giving practical perspectives that will enable believers to patiently endure trials or suffering. Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.
Therefore refers back (5:1-6) to the unjust suffering believers were experiencing at the hands of rich land owners and merchants whose goal for life was money and pleasures. They are exhorted to be patient till the coming of the Lord.
The English word patient is a weak translation of the original word. It is the compound Greek word long (makro) and temper, anger (thumia) or literally long-tempered. The idea is be self-restrained and not quick or easy to retaliate. It is reflected in the stamina to live without complaining, giving up or striking out. They should be ready to endure affliction without complaint and to remain committed in their obedience to God.
Tribulations develop stamina in believers who look to the coming of the Lord (Mt. 24; Mk. 13; Lk. 21) instead of taking vengeance (or government) into our own hands. Christians are to trust God to bring about justice and to punish those who cause them hardships (Rom 12:19). "Vengeance is Mine saith the Lord, I will repay" (Rom. 12:19; Heb. 10:30). But no matter what, they will not suffer forever, the end is insight. Jesus will come and bring judgment on the disobedient. (2 Thess. 1:6-10).
To further reinforce the point that believers need to wait patiently for the second coming, James describes a familiar scene using a simple, concrete example of the farmer to help us learn patience. The hard working farmer can prepare the soil, plant the seed and keep the field weeded but he cannot make the precious fruit of the earth. The farmer cannot make his crop grow but the precious fruit is worth waiting for.
To magnify the farmer's helplessness and his patience dependance on God the Bible points out that he must wait for the early and late rains. The weather is completely beyond the farmers control. Rain is needed to get the crop to come up and grow. Too much rain causes disease or the crop to rot, and too much sun can burn it up. An early frost can kill the crop or a late hail can destroy it. If the farmer does not receive late rains the return for his investment will not be much. The weather helps the farmer develop patience, like trials help believers develop patience. [The early rains in Palestine arrive at the time of the fall planting season (October and November), the late rains just before harvest time (March and April).]
The readers application is found in verse 8. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.
Both the farmer and the Christian must live by faith, looking toward the future reward for their labors. Just like the farmer, every believer should show patience and courage because of the nearness of Jesus' return. Don't labor as if Christ will never come. Work faithfully to build His kingdom. We can find the resolute determination or strength to establish our hearts because the return of the Lord (parousia) is a most powerful stimulus.
"Three times in this section (vv. 7, 8, 9), James refers to the believer's great hope, the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The realization that things won't always be as they are now, that believers are headed for "the city…whose architect and builder is God" (Heb. 11:10), provides great hope for those undergoing persecution. For that reason, the more persecuted a church is the more eagerly it anticipates the return of Jesus Christ; conversely, an affluent, indulgent, worldly church has little interest in the Lord's return." [MacArthur, James, ]