Summary: A message on developing patience.
OPEN: Today we are going to be talking about patience. That's what brother Jim wants to address as he is talking to his flock in the church at Jerusalem. This is one of those virtues that doesn't come easily to any of us. Everything about our life seems to be designed to test our patience, doesn't it? Think about the kinds of things that try your patience: Long lines at the grocery store. Having someone pull out in front of you on the highway and then drive extremely slow. Waiting for hours at the doctors office. Slow service at McDonald's. Long winded preachers who talk way too long. -- all will try your patience, won't it?
Ill: When patience is required! A man and his wife are awakened at 3 o'clock in the morning by a loud pounding on their door. The man gets up and goes to the door where a drunken stranger in the pouring rain is asking for a push. "Not a chance" says the husband- "It's three o'clock in the morning!" He slams the door and returns to bed. "Who was it?" asks his wife. "Just a drunken stranger asking for a push" he answers. "Did you help him?" She asks. "No, I didn't-it's three in the morning and raining out." 'Well, you've got a short memory" says his wife. "Can't you remember about three months ago when we broke down on vacation and those two guys helped us? I think you should help him." The man does as he is told and gets dressed and goes out into the pouring rain and calls out into the dark. "Hello-are you still there?" "Yes," comes the answer. "Do you still want a push?" calls out the husband. "Yes, please!" comes the reply from the dark. "Where are you?" asks the husband. The drunk calls out from the darkness, "I'm over here on the swing in the back yard. Can you give me a push?" There's just some times when we need a little extra patience.
I found this little poem which really condenses the struggle we all have with Patience:
Patience is a virtue,
Possess it if you can.
Found seldom in a woman,
Never in a man.
Patience isn't a virtue that comes easy for any of us. We all know we need it, but none of us want to go through the process required to teach it to us. And there is nothing about our culture that helps us to develop this quality. Everything about our culture is oriented towards that which is fast. Fast is good. Slow is bad. We have fast food, quick print shops, faster and faster computers, express oil changes, expressways, one hour photos, instant messaging, instant cocoa, instant coffee, microwaves, overnight delivery, & e-mail. We think the faster life goes the better it is for us. I don't think God has that same mindset. He wants us to learn to practice patience. That's the problem isn't it? I'm in hurry but God isn't. The problem with developing patience is it's not instant. There's nothing "instant" about patience. It is one of those character traits that grows over time rather than being given to us overnight. We eat fast food and then want instant diet plans. I even read about a church that advertises a 30 minute church service. The Church at Rock Creek in Little Rock Arkansas is advertising its 30-minute church service "designed with you in mind" Remember the time when church services were designed with God in mind? There is even a church in Florida that advertises 22 minute services. Go there and they promise that in 22 minutes it will all be over, and you'll be out of there. The sermons are only 8 minutes long..." And our society applauds it! "That's the right way to do it -- do it fast and get on to something else." This is called a day of rest -- a day to rest in the Lord -- not a day of hurry up. This is a day when we step out of the rat race and find rest for our souls.
Context: You'll remember from the last time we were in this book that James has been talking about the topic of some of the people in his congregation being abused by others. The wealthy in the congregation were taking advantage of the poor in the congregation. Some were hoarding their money and not paying their employees. The rich were oppressing and persecuting the poor. How does James want them to respond to this situation? What kind of attitude are they to have? He says "Be Patient" In fact in this short passage, James uses the words "patient", "patience", "persevered", and "perseverance" six times in five verses.
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord's coming. (James 5:7)