Summary: When you’ve been wronged, wait on the Lord’s return and do what’s right.
What to Do When You’re Waiting
Rev. Brian Bill
April 6-7, 2019
How many of you find it difficult to wait? Listen to these stats.
• Each year we spend around 13 hours on hold.
• The average person spends six months of their life waiting in lines.
To bring it closer to home, we’re all facing complicated detours due to the I-74 bridge construction and multiple road closures because of rising river waters [show picture of flooding].
Perhaps this map will clear things up for you [show map].
In addition, roadwork has started on 38th Street and our facility is going through some extensive renovation.
As we continue in our study in James called, “Faith Works,” we’re going to learn what to do while we’re waiting. One of the most important lessons we can learn is how to respond rightly when we’ve been treated wrongly.
Last week we looked at how those with money were taking advantage of those living on the margins of life and discovered this truth: How I steward my wealth reveals my spiritual health.
Our text for today is James 5:7-12: “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. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.”
An important first step when studying Scripture is to pray and then make some observations. Let’s pray and then dive in.
Here are some observations.
• This passage is linked to verses 1-6 by the use of “therefore,” which means this section provides a game plan when we’re in a waiting room because of some kind of injustice.
• The tone is tender as James refers to his readers as “brothers” three times in verse 7, verse 9 and verse 10. This is in contrast to the opening verses in this chapter, which are rather terse.
• The word “patient” is used three times in verses 7-8 and “patience” is used in verse 10.
• The overriding focus is on the second coming of Christ. Verse 7 - “until the coming of the Lord.” Verse 8 - “for the coming of the Lord is at hand” and verse 9 - “behold, the Judge is standing at the door.” This can be translated as “right on the edge; just about to happen.” It’s the next event on God’s calendar. Romans 13:12: “The night is far gone; the day is at hand.” Those who are the most persecuted look forward to the Second Coming the most. Incidentally, did you know there are over 300 references to Christ’s return in the New Testament? That’s one out of every 13 verses!
Here’s the main point for today: When you’ve been wronged, wait on the Lord’s return and do what’s right.
As I initially percolated on this passage, I struggled to find an outline. After poring over the text, this is what came to the surface.
• Exhortations. We’re told what to do.
• Examples. We’re told how to do it by considering three examples.
• Examination. We’re called to take what we learn and apply it to our lives.
Exhortations – What to Do
1. Be patient with people. Look at verse 7: “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.” The word “patience” comes from two words, meaning “long-tempered.” It’s the idea of having a short fuse. One commentator defines it this way: “A long-protracted restraint of the soul from yielding to passion.”
The phrase, “coming of the Lord” speaks of His anytime arrival. We must live every day with the realization that Jesus could come back this day. Because He’s coming soon, I must be patient with people. Drop down to verse 8 where James personalizes this call for patience: “You also, be patient.”
J.B. Lightfoot defines patience as “self-restraint, which does not hastily retaliate a wrong.” This was counter-cultural then and it is counter-cultural today. For Greeks and Romans it was a virtue to retaliate when wronged. James is urging us to refuse to take revenge, even when we’re able to.