Read James 5:7-12
7Be 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. 8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. 9Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
10Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11As 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.
12Above all, my brothers, do not swear — not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned. (NIV)
James is a fascinating letter. We have looked at it already. But here we look again at being patient. When ever I think about patience, I am always reminded of the story where the person says they prayed for patience and God gave them a problem in response. This story speaks to the fact that patience is learned in life. We are born impatient creatures. If you look at the reactions of an infant, you will find a very impatient person. When they want something, they want it now and will make sure your life is miserable until they get it.
But we see here that James connects patience with two concepts. The first is seen in verse 7. Here James connects patience with what I call delayed gratitude. It is the idea that we will receive good things in their right time. This is the lesson of the farmer who waits for the right time to harvest. It cannot be rushed. This has caused much pain and heartache in our society. People cannot wait to get something, so they get themselves in so much debt, which causes problems for them down the road. We see this in young people with sex. They cannot wait, and so things happen that causes trouble down the road. And waiting for Jesus to return again can get frustrating. We stop waiting for that joy and seek other things to have a joy today.
The second thing James connects to patience is perseverance. We see this in verses 10 and 11. Can we have patience when things are not going our way, to persevere through the difficult times. It is having a patience that says, this too shall pass and that something good is coming. That is the hope we remind ourselves of during Advent. It is not just looking at the fact that Christ came once, but that Christ will come again.
What we fail to understand is that there are two second comings that we have in store for us. One is the one the Bible speaks to where Christ will come again and usher in the new heaven and the new earth. But there is also that time where we come to meet Jesus and this happens in each person’s life. It happens when we end this earthly life that Jesus comes again to take us home as he promised the disciples during the last supper. For some of us, that is going to happen sooner than later in that we are closer to this time than the time of our birth.
The question James is putting forth is will we be patient in waiting for Christ’s return? We will stay the course we are on or will we get sidetracked in the things of this world? The question each of us needs to ask each day is where am I on this journey? Am I on the road that is going where I want to go? Jesus reminded us in his teaching in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Blessings and Peace