We are in the tenth message of a series on the book of James
Why the book of James?
There are several reasons
First of all, because I really feel this is where God wants us to be right now
Secondly because James is one of my favorite books of the Bible!
There is so much wisdom in the book of James
It was written to Jewish Christians scattered around the Roman Empire
One of the things that I like about James is that he’s pretty straightforward in his writing
I think a lot of this had to do with the fact that James was a pretty simple man
Raised in a small town by a simple carpenter, living a pretty down-to-earth life
Even though he had a simple background he was also the leader of the headquarters church in Jerusalem, and knew how to speak with authority.
You don't have to look for hidden meanings in this book.
The primary topic in James is on how to live a mature Christian life
Maturity is important in our life
Let’ jump right into today’s passage in James 5
James 5:7-11 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. 9 Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 10 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
Let’s take a closer look at what James is saying here
Verse 7 starts out with the phrase “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming.”
What exactly is James referring to here?
The focus in this sentence is the coming of the Lord
This is Jesus’ return to earth when He will bind Satan and set up His everlasting Kingdom
In other words, when Jesus comes back He is going to make right everything that is currently wrong in the world
Virtually every generation that has lived has felt that the Lord’s return was going to be soon
Jesus Himself said in Revelation 22:20, the next to the last verse in the Bible, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
The early Christians were no different than we are today – they were anxiously awaiting the return of Jesus
They wanted their currently struggles, trials, and persecutions to be over – and really, can you blame them?
But James tells them to be patient until the Lord’s coming
So the focus of this passage of Scripture is on patience – not just in the Lord’s coming but in what that coming represented
James is telling them to be patient with all the issues they are facing
I don’t know about you, but patience is not one of my better virtues!
I want what I want when I want it!
I do not enjoy being patient
And society doesn’t help at all
Microwaves (who wants to wait an hour for a baked potato?)
Microwaveable minute rice (if it only takes a minute, why microwave it?)
Instant information (Internet)
Rapid travel (we travel in an hour what used to take our ancestors 2 to 3 days)
We want our problems to be taken care of just as fast, and when they are not we are miserable
I must admit that there has been a few times when I looked up to heaven and said “Lord, this would be a great time for You to return!
But just like the early Christians, we need to learn patience
After James told them to be patient he goes on to give them three specific words of advice to help them with this patience
See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.
After James tells us to be patient he uses the farmer as an object lesson
Why the farmer?
Well, if you think about it patience is a big part of farming
We are in the beginning of spring, and it won’t be too long until the fields are dry enough for the farmers to start working them
Within a month or so they will be plowed and planted
Every farmer knows that it takes time for the seed to grow
You don’t see the farmer going out to his fields 3 days after planting and getting all upset because he doesn’t see anything yet
Growing a crop takes time
Around here we plant corn in the spring and the old saying about a healthy corn crop is “knee high by the fourth of July” – even then it’s still a few weeks away from full maturity
Farmers realize that there is a time and a season for everything – that they must wait for their crop to reach full maturity if they want the best results
The same is true with life – there is a time and a season for everything
James began his letter with this thought –
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
The troubles we are facing may make us want to cry out to Jesus for a quick return, but the bottom line is that troubles bring patience, and patience brings maturity
I’ve heard people say “everything happens for a reason” – I disagree with that statement
Yes, I think that God does sometimes allow things to happen the way they do because He has a deeper purpose
But sometimes bad things happen simply because we live in a fallen world
God had nothing to do with the situation, but that doesn’t mean He cannot use it for our benefit!
James then goes on to give us another piece of advice on developing the patience that we all need
9 Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
Have you ever met a grumbler? (don’t go pointing fingers!)
Here’s the thing about grumblers – they have no problem pointing out all the problems and issues that they see, but they do not want to do anything about them
They might tell you what they think you need to do, but they are not willing to help
It’s much easier to sit on the sidelines and grumble than to get in the game and help
Have you also noticed that grumblers are not very patient people?
Doing something about the issues takes time and effort – grumbling is easy!
The bigger the problem is, the bigger the solution is
Big solutions take effort and they take time – grumblers would rather grumble than be patient and help with the solution
We cannot be grumbling about the problems that we are in
Grumbling will solve nothing – in fact, often times grumbling makes things worse!
James then goes on to warn the grumblers “the judge is standing at the door!”
God is hearing your grumbling – how do you think He will respond?
James then gives us his final example in our quest for patience
10 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
I’ll admit that the book of Job is one that I sometimes struggle with
It’s a brutal book, but there is an amazing message in it!
Several amazing messages actually
The book is basically divided into three major thoughts:
Chapters 1-3 Job’s distress. [explain]
Chapters 4-37 Job’s defense. [explain]
Chapters 38-42 Job’s deliverance. [explain]
God humbled Job and then in the end of his life He exalts him by giving him twice as much as he had before. It is difficult to find a greater example of suffering than Job.
Warren Weirsbe wrote: “Job endured. Satan predicted that Job would get impatient with God and abandon his faith but that didn’t happen. It is true that Job questioned God’s will, but Job did not forsake his faith in the Lord.
Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.”
Job was so sure of God’s perfections that he persisted in arguing with Him, even though he did not understand all that God was doing.
So, in conclusion
The point James is making here is that yes, there will be issues in life
But we need to be patient with these issues
Waiting like the farmer for the mature crop that is bound to come
Not grumbling, but doing our best to fix the situation
Persevering through the trouble like Job, and ultimately receiving our reward