Summary: The following sermon is going to suggest that it is possible and even spiritually advantageous for Christians to be patient and rejoice in our Lord during the greatest storms of suffering in our lives!
Patience in Suffering (James 5:7-12)
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
Who amongst us would ask to be granted the patience of Job? To sit upon a “dunghill” of unimaginable suffering and pain and yet cry out “blessed be the name of the Lord” for though “He slay me, yet will I trust in Him;” is a testimony of patience, love and faith for God that eternally rings loud and clear! Is it not easier though to question our sovereign God when tribulations threaten to crush our souls than to “find strength in helplessness, joy in submission, rest in resignation, heaven in a full surrender to His will”? If God were to ask you to enter into a “furnace of infliction” so that your faith might be proven and your spirit refined like that of pure gold, would you say yes? When you are enjoying “the pleasures of sin for a season” would you receive the rod of His wrath with thanksgiving in your heart? Should you be called to be persecuted for righteousness sake would you be the first to say, though the gates of hell be brought near, I will fear no evil but will rejoice that I am counted worthy to suffer for His name’s sake? The following sermon is going to suggest that it is possible and even spiritually advantageous for Christians to be patient and rejoice in our Lord during the greatest storms of suffering in our lives!
Before one can truly understand James teaching on patience one must first understand the dire circumstances of the Christians who lived outside of Palestine. The first source of suffering were the rich who were oppressing the poor. While James denounced those who acquired or preserved riches at the expense of others, his advice to the twelve tribes of the Dispersion was to patiently bear their economic suffering by boasting that in their low, earthly position they would one day be made eternally rich! The second source of suffering was due to their belief in but one God. Even though the Jews lived during the peaceful time of the famous Pax Romana, daily they faced persecution for not worshipping the plethora of Roman gods and the emperor! The Christians of the Dispersion were suffering so intensely that they started to project their anger and hostility onto the members of their own church communities! In response James encouraged them to “keep steady under provocation,” faithful to God in tribulations and above all patiently wait until the Lord returns and corrects all injustices. The remainder to the sermon is going to “dive into” how to remain patient in three critical areas of our lives: with one another, in the face of persecution and during tribulations, so that we might be found faithful upon the Lord’s return!
Patience with Fellow Believers (verse 7,9)
Christians are not just to be patient with outsiders who persecute them they especially need to be patient with those inside the church who “grate” on their every nerve! When we suffer against situations of which we have no control or with people far more powerful than us we tend to take out our frustrations on those closest to us! According to James the fact that the Christians of the Dispersion did not have their worldly desires satisfied had become a source of much quarreling, fighting, grumbling and outright, harsh judgment amongst the brothers and sisters in Christ (4:1-3). As Christians we are to forbear one another (Colossians 3:13) and in seeing the image of God in our brothers and sisters (James 3:19) we are to keep no records of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5) but instead look out for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4). To grumble and fight with fellow believers not only ruins our witness of God’s love to the world but James says invites judgement upon us, for in the manner we judge others we too will be judged (Matthew 7:1-12)! Like the Christians of James day when we fight, grumble and harshly judge our brothers and sisters we must not forget that this disobedience will soon be judged by the One who is about to return (Revelation 22:20).
Patience in the Face of Persecution - Prophets (Verse 10)
When it came to patience amidst persecution James stated his fellow believers are to look to the example of the prophets who were able to faithfully declare the word of God despite being persecuted and facing death! One example of great patience was Moses. He wandered in the wilderness and had to endure a complaining and grumbling people and yet remained their leader, deeply in love with them and God! Another example was Daniel who was thrown in the lion’s den because he defied Darius’ edict to stop worshipping God for thirty days (Daniel 6). Then where was Zechariah who “sealed his testimony with his blood” and was put to death in the temple (2 Chronicles 24:20–22). Who could ever forget Elijah’s faithfulness to God who was chased by Jezebel who wanted him dead for executing 450 prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18)? Then there is Isaiah who never stopped sharing God’s prophecies even though tradition has it that this led to him being sawed in two. And finally who could ever forget the patience of the “weeping prophet” Jeremiah who despite being put into stocks (20:2), thrown into prison (32:2), lowered into a miry cistern (38:6) never stopped pleading with Israel to repent and God to not destroy them? James encouraged his brothers and sisters of the Dispersion through the prophet’s example of patience in persecution to realize that they too can choose to not grumble or blame each other but instead rejoice that God viewed them worthy to let their lights shine in great darkness!