Summary: James teaches about patience in problems, with people, and in persecution, as he points us and his audience to Christ's Second Coming
I have a little quiz for you today that I would like you to participate in. I have the little quiz in the bulletin, or you can participate by listening to me. How would you fill in the blanks for the following statements? Statement 1: “I want it .” What did you put there? It’s probably the word “now.” Next one. “I said, Do it .” The answer? Now. Third one. “Not next week, not next month, not next year, not tomorrow, but !” Four, a common prayer we might say, “Dear God, give me patience and give it to me right .” Or as my roommate used to say, “Serenity .” We live in a world of now! We live in a world of instant gratification and instant satisfaction. Don’t believe me?
We have things like instant mashed potatoes, Tv-dinners, Ramen cups, and Hot-N-Ready pizzas. We have entertainment services that offer instant streaming and instant access to thousands of shows. We hold phones in our hands that can access information, bank accounts, and emails instantly. And when it doesn’t load fast enough, we hit the button at the top to hope it speeds up. Companies like Amazon offers free two day shipping, and when our package is not here by the end of day two, we might wonder if it will ever come. We live in a world of now.
As a result of these things, patience in the basic spheres of everyday life can be a challenge. It can be difficult to wait, and to be patient. It can be an even bigger challenge in the light of adversity and suffering. James’ audience is facing persecution. They are being wrong and mistreated, and those who are doing it them are prospering. And what does James preach to them? Patience? James preaches patience. He teaches and encourages patience in adversity and suffering by pointing them to Christ’s Second Coming. He teaches us patience in trials and hardships by pointing us to the same event.
James teaches patience in problems, with people, in persecution, and suffering. James says to be like the farmer: “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient.” Put yourself in the farmer’s shoes for just a moment. It really takes a lot of patience to be a farmer. There are many things out of a farmer’s control that he has to just wait out. He has no control over the sunshine or amount of rain that will fall. He cannot control the temperature. He cannot heavily affect the growth. He cannot prevent an enemy invasion. He cannot prevent theft or vandals, or fully stop animals from grazing on his crops. He cannot even guarantee that the seeds of what he had planted will sprout! And when things are planted, he has to wait for months. There is so much out of his control! You have to wait, hope, and pray and see how things turn out! Can you imagine being a farmer without patience?
There are many times in life when we are put in the position of the farmer. There are many things out of our control. There are problems we have to be patient in and sometimes can’t do anything about. We have no control over a market crash or housing drop. Friendships for some reason can fizzle. The car can go caput on 36. You dry yourself off after the shower and find that lump. We have no control over politics and the polices that are produced. Insurance and other rates can go up. Life can throw those random problems and more. What we do? In these situations, we wait. We patiently endure. We wait on the Lord, look to Him, and to His Coming. James urges and teaches patience in problems. He also urges it with others.
In our Christian lives, we wrestle with the reality that our Lord has not returned yet. In our problems, this delay can give way to impatience in our dealings with others. James says, “Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.” Our Lord is on His way, and we keep that in mind with our interactions with others. But unfortunately, when we are stressed, scared, or uncertain of our future and circumstances, when we are in the middle of a trial, problem, or hardship, we can mistreat others. Our patience can be severely diminished in these things.
We might grumble against others by blaming our current problem(s) on them! “It’s their fault!” we might say. We might snap on that innocent spouse from the high emotions and energy of it. We might freak out on that friend or complain about our children. We can be tempted to make comparisons with the lots and lives of others, and envy their current situation. We might see their Facebook page and wonder, “Why can’t my life be like that?” But James says, “Patience.” We wait. For the Judge is standing at the door. And rather than lashing out at each other, James points us to prophets as a example of patience in persecution and suffering. They are great examples of patience in problems.