Summary: This message from chapter 5 deals with patience.
Patience – the Why and the How
CHCC: November 28, 2010
When my wife heard I was preaching about patience today, she started laughing … for some reason … It made me think of an old saying: "Patience is a virtue; attain it if you can; seldom in a woman … never in a man." Patience has never been my favorite virtue. I certainly never prayed for it! Therefore, as I begin this message today I come before you as a fellow struggler. I admit I need patience, but I cannot claim to be an expert in patience. Therefore, fellow strugglers, let us take a look in James 5 to see what James wants to teach us all about patience.
Anyone who wants to be a disciple of Jesus Christ is going to need to grow in patience. James ends his book by talking about WHY we can have patience and HOW we can have patience no matter what troubles we face.
When James calls Christians to a life of patience, he doesn’t sugar-coat it and try to tell them that things weren’t really so bad. Many of the early Christians were suffering because of the greed of others. Many were slaves. Others were terribly poor because they had been forced out of their homes by persecution. Their homes and belongings had been confiscated by the Roman government and they’d been reduced to desperate circumstances.
James doesn’t pull any punches. He says, Now, listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. In verses 5 & 6 James goes on to give this stinging attack against ill-gotten gain: You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you. James 5:1, 5-6
It’s hard to be patient when it seems like the bad guys are winning. It doesn’t take much looking around to notice that the richest and most powerful people are not often the kindest and wisest people. In fact, people who are ruthless, deceitful, and out-and out immoral often seem to come out on top. It was true in the first century and it’s true today. Too often it seems like bad things happen to GOOD people and good things happen to BAD people.
In the middle of a world that is often cruel and unfair, James says, Be patient, then, brothers … and stand firm! (vs. 7,8)
WHY? Because the Lord’s coming is near … the Judge is at the door. (vs. 8, 9)
1. The WHY of Patience
The Why of Patience is because we know perfect justice WILL be done one day. Jesus is coming again in power and he will put everything right. James compares it to a Farmer who can wait patiently in spite of drought and weeds because he knows that one day the Harvest will come.
It’s easy to think, yeah, that’s right! Those greedy rich people will get what they have coming on Judgment Day. But when you stop and think about it, James wrote this letter to the Church. When he said, “You rich people,” he was addressing wealthy Christians.
With the weak American economy we have right now, most people have seen their financial situation get worse rather than better. But the truth is that our standard of living is still so high that even average Americans are some of the richest people who have ever lived on the planet. If you’ve ever traveled to a third-world country, you know this is true!
So, considering that, even those of us who don’t think of ourselves as “rich” might want to take a look at some of the warnings James gave. To start with, we need to remember that putting confidence in money is a big mistake. James 5:2-3 says, Your wealth has rotted and moths have eaten your clothes. Your god and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire.
In vs. 3 James says it’s wrong to hoard wealth. There’s nothing wrong with saving money, but there’s a difference between saving and hoarding. Savings are meant to provide for the predictable needs your family may have in the future. Hoarding means to hold tightly to money that should be used for good purpose. Hoarding is to hang on to money that you legitimately owe to someone else. Vs. 4 says, Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. It’s wrong to hoard money that belongs to someone else … whether it’s an employee or a credit company … or to the government in taxes.
And certainly, the most important debt we owe is to God. The first thing we should do with our pay check is to set aside our tithes. We can also set aside a percentage of money to help people in need. When you do this, it’s amazing how God will show you people that you can bless with your help. That’s the best guard you can put up against the temptation of hoarding your money.