Read: James 5:7-8 |
My sister in laws birthday party is this weekend. I plan to go and help with the setup, but the final edits on this posting are coming to me very slowly. It occurred to me that though I am in a hurry to edit and finalize this post, God is not! Thus, I must be patient, listen, and await His guidance. Subsequently, I am experiencing the imperative that James is making in these verses, “be patient”!
The patience James is speaking of is that the waiting is much more than passively waiting for time to pass. He paints the picture of patience to include the humble submission to the wisdom and the will of God, with the understanding that the believer is actively pursuing God’s will. In other words, they are not standing still, but they are standing firm on the promises of God.
We should avoid impatience because it can stunt and derail our spiritual growth. The challenges the Lord allows in our lives shape our faith and spiritual maturity. When we impatiently go around, over and under the challenge, we lose more than we gain.
Grumble, Groan and Grudge not
James’ next command is not to grumble against one another. The Matthew Henry Commentary breaks down grumbling and groaning into four different types:
- Murmuring groans about what happens to you
- Distrustful groans about what may happen to you
- Revengeful groans about what you have suffered from
- Envious groans about the blessings of others
When Moses was leading the people to the Promised Land (Numbers 14:2,11,22-29) the people grumbled against Moses, but they were actually grumbling against God’s leadership. We have to be careful that our groaning and grumbling is not really a complaint that God is not favoring us the way we want to be favored.
The Patience of farmers
Farmers plant, cultivate, weed and tend to their fields trusting that the rain will bring the increase. James links the farmer’s faith in the rain to the Old Testament promise of rain being part of God’s promised faithfulness (Jeremiah 5:24; Joel 2:23; Deuteronomy 11:14). As we plant the Word in lives of others, cultivate relationships and weed sin from our lives, God will bring rain in our lives to increase our harvest in due season.
The suffering of the Prophets
The prophets were the greatest examples of suffering affliction and patience. The Jews looked upon the prophets as heroes.
James also notes the example of Job who suffered a variety of miseries that seem impossible to endure. By enduring the suffering, and standing firm in his faith he lived another 140 years and was blessed more in the latter part of his life than the former (Job 42:12-16). Our call is to stand firm, endure and persevere just as they did.
Yes equals Yes and not maybe
James concludes this passage with a stern warning against swearing. In our society, the word “swearing” brings to mind cursing and using God’s name in vain. However, in this context, Bible Scholars agree, that these verses mean that our word should be our bond. In Matthew 5:33-37, Jesus tells us to fulfill our vows to the Lord.
The key issue is to tell the truth. Avoid offering a quick “yes” and then backing out because we found it convenient to agree initially and now it is inconvenient to follow-through.
James points out that the portrait of patience in the believer’s life is a collage of suffering, perseverance and blessing, in that order. Suffering enters the believer’s life; perseverance is the believer’s response; blessing comes from the Lord, who is full of compassion and mercy. [IVP Commentary]
If there is nothing to endure, we cannot learn endurance. We cannot persevere unless there are trials in our lives. There can be no victories without battles; there can be no peaks without valleys, no joys without sorrows and no strength without trials and no blessings without sufferings. [Davidson, Dennis – “How Patience is developed”] No matter which cycle we are in, suffering, perservance or blessing, be patiently faithful!
A. What areas of life is it easy for me to be patient?
B. What areas of life is it difficult for me to be patient?
A. How have your past experiences lead to your level of patience?
B. While you are proactively waiting on God what is your mood?
A. Can others tell when you are suffering or do you carry yourself in a defeated sack-cloth sort of way?
B. When you agree to do something, how often do you back out and/or change your mind?