Thursday, January 5, 2012

James 5:7-11 - Patience in These Days

7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.
8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.
9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.
10 As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
11 We count those blessed who endured.  You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and merciful.


In today’s passage, John is making one more *big* point before he bolts into the rapid-fire exhortations with which he concludes his letter.

Into the Greek

As is often the case, looking into the original Greek of this passage sheds more light on it and reveals subtle but important nuances.

Firstly, let’s look at the word patient/patience (verses 7, 8, and 10), makrothumia.  This word means patient and long-suffering.  This isn’t patient as in sitting in the doctor’s waiting room for an hour without banging your head against the wall and chewing out the receptionist; this is patient as in enduring years of pain and hardship without complaining.  We are guaranteed that our Christian walk will involve suffering (2 Timothy 3:12 “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”) – and we need to be long-suffering about it.

Secondly, the word for endurance/endured (verse 11) is ekdechomai.  This word means to wait, expect, and look (for).  In other words, it’s not just waiting around for something to happen; it’s more like when you’re waiting for an important phone call – you are obsessed with it, always thinking about it, and your ears are ready for that ring.  We are to live with this excited anticipation for our Lord, something the rich people in our last post’s passage (5:1-6) forgot.  It’s an active waiting.

Now that we’ve got that cleared up…

Alright, with that understanding, let’s see if we can outline James’ progression of logic for today’s passage.

* Verse 7  Be long-suffering as you wait for Jesus to come back.  There’s going to be a stretch of time when you work your fields and don’t get any food despite your sweat – when you work hard and suffer for His kingdom without yet experiencing your reward in heaven – but the rains are promised to come – but He has promised you both your reward and His return.

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.  FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY.
- Hebrews 10:36-37

* Verses 8 and 9  Strengthen your hearts against sin by expecting and looking toward the day when you will spend eternity with Him!  Don’t let that sin creep in because you lose track of how late the time really is.  One specific outlet for this kind of patience is to stop judging and accusing one another – remember what we just discussed (4:11-12)!  As the world is spinning toward the End of the Age, now is the time for godly action, not for wasting time on sin!

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
- Ephesians 5:15-16

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.
- Hebrews 12:1-3

* Verses 10 and 11  Look at all the people in the Old Testament who suffered for God, and He rewarded them – they are written down to be examples for us, to inspire us!  They are living proof that our heavenly reward is totally worth it.

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus; that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Romans 15:4-6

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
- Romans 8:18

Let’s Talk

What other verses or Bible stories can you think of that relate to today’s passage?  What tactics have you employed successfully to remain patient?

I’d love to hear from you, whether question or comment! ^_^


Clare Kolenda said...

This post was excellent and has really helped me! Thank you!

It reminded me of a passage from 2Corinthians chapter 6, "We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful, as unrecognized and yet having nothing and yet possessing all things."

To the worlds point of view, we Christians are crazy. Those who suffer for their faith, suffer just in their lives in general, and yet praise God anyways may seem ridiculous to most. But though it may look like we have nothing we "possess all things" because we have Christ. We have His grace, His love, His mercy. We have it all, though it's invisible to those who don't look for it. :)

Thanks for reminding me that though life is tough now, it's going to be so much better later on. Christ has won. :)

Sapphire said...

I love that verse, Clare; thank you for sharing your thoughts! :-)

Writing the post gave *me* some reminders, too. ;-)