Summary: How James calls on Christians to be patient because Jesus is coming soon and because God blesses patience.
December 16, 2001 James 5:7-11
7 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 10 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
Dear friends in Christ, waiting for your King to come,
I used to be polite to telemarketers. But time has a way of grating on you after a while, when you have to deal with the same problem time and time again! Now when I hear from them, my jaw starts to clench and I have a very difficult time being polite. I remember one wife who was dealing with difficult problems with her husband who told me, “sorry doesn’t cut it anymore.” She grew tired of forgiving her husband for the same sins he was committing time and again. Isn’t that one of the most frustrating things in life, is dealing with a habitual offender? It’s difficult to deal with the same sins of your children every day. It’s difficult to live with the same weaknesses in your pastor or your congregation or your spouse. And the more you have to live with it, the more difficult it becomes.
In the book of James, the brother of Jesus who was the elder of the congregation at Jerusalem - wrote to the early Jewish Christians - giving them many guidelines in how to live as Jewish Christians in a Judaic world. One struggle that they seemed to be having was with finances. James told them, You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. . . . When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. . . Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. James said that some of the rich had also, lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. . . . fattened (themselves) in the day of slaughter. . . and . . . condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you. As a result of these rich and habitually greedy men - possibly Jews who claimed to be Christians, it appears that many of the poorer Jewish Christians were habitually suffering because of the slander and exploitation of the rich. I don’t know how long this was going on, but at the point this letter was written, it appears that some of the Jewish Christians were growing tired of this abuse.
So James said, Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm. The Jews needed to be patient, just like the farmer. You see, farmers have no choice but to be patient, because they have no control over the rain. This was a big issue while I lived in Norton. The western part of Kansas sometimes can go months without a drop of rain. And when the winter wheat is planted, it is difficult for the farmers to hold their breath and wait for some moisture to hit the ground. But they have no choice. You have to be patient as a farmer. There’s no way I could do it - put thousands of dollars in a field and hope it rains? That takes a patience that I don’t have. The nature of the business demands that you plant the seed and put the watering in God’s hands.
James encouraged his fellow Jews to be patient like the farmer. And you can see the point of comparison, can’t you? A farmer has no control over the rain. A farmer cannot make the wheat and corn grow. Only God can. And so also - the Jews could not control how they would be treated by the rich and the greedy. They couldn’t control how God would bless their efforts and their work. Only God could do something about it. So really, what choice did they have but to be patient!