#156 “PATIENTLY AWAITING THE COMING OF JESUS (JAMES 5:7-11)
There are a lot of things that can take our focus off of God. Yet, in the book of James, we are told to fix our eyes on the return of Christ. How do we do that?
- 7 Be patient (Gk., makrothymēsate—to dwell patiently in difficulty with much passion from the soul), therefore, brothers, until the coming (Gk., parousia—coming advent of Christ) 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. After detailing the impending judgment on the greedy rich, James immediately pivots to encourage the Jewish Christians (“brothers”) to remain patient as they await their returning King. Until the coming of the Lord—The first mentioning of Christ’s return. Farmer waits—The first illustration given by James is a farmer who waits patiently for the crops to grow. Likewise, despite the trials and persecution, Christians are to anticipate the fruit of the gospel that is growing all over the world. Being patient about it—The Bible Knowledge Commentary provides insight into the word ‘patient:’ “The idea is to set the timer of one’s temper for a long run. Think long. Focus on the final lap in the race of life. Have a long fuse.” In this section alone, James will use ‘patient/patience’ four times and ‘steadfastness’ twice. Early and late rains—The first rains germinate the seed and the second matures it.
- 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. The second illustration of James is the prophets. Men like Elijah, Jeremiah, and Daniel come to mind.
- 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose (telos kyriou, the end or goal) of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. James’s third illustration has to do with the suffering of Job. An extraordinary example of someone who persevered through continuous tragedy (Job 1:21-22; 2:10; 13:15). Remained steadfast—James opens his letter with the words, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (1:2). And now, here, James refers to Job’s perseverance through severe loss and grief. You have seen the purpose—Trials reveal truth and show the goodness of God despite the heartache and pain. Paul writes in 2 Cor. 4:16-18, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” Therefore, a Christian is to remain steadfast in the promises of God—knowing full well that he will ultimately fulfill his good purposes in his or her life.
- 8 You also, be patient. Establish (strengthen) your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. For the third time, James tells Christians to be patient. To stand strong in their faith because their hope is in knowing Christ will return and put things back into order. The coming of the Lord—The second mentioning of Christ’s return.
- 9 Do not grumble (stenazō, sigh; groan; complain) against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. In light of Christ’s imminent return, Christians are to endure persecution and suffering and strive to bring peace among the community of believers. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, “Christians lose patience with each other under these pressures, and the church becomes infected with a readiness to criticize and blame. James would correct the problem with a renewed vision of the imminently returning Christ, particularly emphasizing that he comes as Judge.” In the previous chapter, James specified the cause of arguing and fighting: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask” (4:1-2). Judge is standing at (before) the door (doors)—The third mentioning of Christ’s return.
- Romans 13:11-12, “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
- Hebrews 9:28, “So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”
- Philippians 3:20-21, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
- Titus 2:13, “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”
- Additional Passages: 1 Cor. 1:7; 16:22; Phil. 4:5; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; Jd. 1:21