Summary: Eleventh in a series on the book of James. When problems overwhelm us, (1) We are tempted to Lose Patience, (2) We are tempted to Lose Perspective, and (3) We are tempted to Blame Others.
A STUDY OF THE BOOK OF JAMES
THE POWER OF PATIENCE
Is patience difficult for you? A man in Los Angeles, California was arrested for negligent discharge of a weapon after shooting his toilet bowl five times with a 38 caliber handgun. He claims that he just got upset. He couldn’t take it any longer. His daughter had flushed a hairbrush earlier in the day and clogged the pipes. So he shot the offending toilet. I have no word on the toilet’s condition, but the man’s patience was long gone.
Someone has said,
Patience is a virtue,
Possess it if you can.
Found seldom in a woman,
Never in a man.
“Perhaps you can relate this story. “One
day a man was to meet his wife downtown and spend some time shopping with her. He waited patiently for 15 minutes. Then he waited impatiently for 15 minutes more.
After that, he became angry. Seeing one of those photograph booths nearby (the kind that accepts coins into a slot and takes four shots while you pose on a small bench), he had an idea. He assumed the most ferocious expression he could manage, which wasn’t difficult under the circumstances, and in a few moments he was holding four small prints that shocked even him!
He wrote his wife’s name on the back of
the photographs and handed them to a clerk behind the desk. "If you see a small, dark lady with brown eyes and an apologetic expression, apparently looking for someone, would you please give her this?" he said.
He then returned to his office content that, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then four photos must be a full-blown lecture! His wife saved those pictures. She carries them in her purse now. Shows them to anyone who asks if she is married.” [Sermon Illustrator. Patience – “Wait Training” www.sermonillustrator.org]
How are you with patience? It seems that there is always something to try our patience. Having to wait is one of those things. We wait on traffic and we wait in lines. We wait to hear about a new job. We wait to complete school or to retire. We wait to grow up or for maturity in a child. We wait for a decision to be made. We wait for someone to change his or her mind.
Every day presents plenty of occasions for training in patience. We can resent waiting, accept it or even get good at it! But one thing is certain - we cannot avoid it.
Perhaps we can hear the Lord speak to us about the possibilities for patience in our own lives today, that is, if we are not in too much of a hurry to get out of here. We have all heard the expression; I need patience — and I need it RIGHT NOW!!!
The story is “told that the great New England preacher Phillips Brooks was known for his calmness and poise. His intimate friends, however, knew that he suffered moments of frustration and irritability. One day a friend saw him pacing the floor like a caged lion. ‘What is the trouble, Dr. Brooks?’ asked his friend. ‘The trouble is,’ replied Brooks, ‘that I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t.’” [David Jeremiah. Turning Toward Integrity. (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1993.) p. 166.]
Haven’t we felt the same way many times? Patience is what James addresses in our text. Turn with me now to James 5:7,
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. (8) You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (9) Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! (10) My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. (11) Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”
James here addresses the problems that we all face when problems overwhelm us, (1) We are tempted to Lose Patience, (2) We are tempted to Lose Perspective, and (3) We are tempted to Blame Others.
First, When We Are Tempted To Lose Patience – Remember It Will Be Worth the Wait! 5:7-8a
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. (8) You also be patient…..”
James sets the theme for the whole section with this command he gives right up front. In fact he states it twice, once in verse seven, and once in verse eight. He begins verse seven with this command and the word "therefore" or "so then." The people to whom James is writing were experiencing tremendous difficulty and persecution. As we learned in the first six verses of James 5, the wicked rich were oppressing and persecuting Christians, but their condemnation is coming... therefore, James says, "be patient." Be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others. This appears to be perfect advice for what his audience is going through, doesn’t it?