Step Towards Transformation
7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.
8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!
10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.
11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.
So far, we have examined
Today James is going to tell us – How To Be Patient In Sufferings.
Illustration: A young Dad pushed his son’s pram down the street as the youngster howled in rage and displeasure. Folks could hear the father telling himself: “Please, Bernard, control yourself… Easy there, Bernard, Keep calm! Everything will be alright. “Congratulations Sir,” said a woman who had been watching. “You know just how to speak to a child… calmly, gently, and with great patience.”
Then she added, “Did you name little Bernard after a family member? I really like that name.” “Ma’am, you don’t understand,” the father said, “My son’s name is Jeffery, I’m Bernard.”
All of us — at one time or another — have had to talk to ourselves – trying to convince ourselves to be patient.
In the middle of the fifth chapter of James, we notice the author returning to the theme that started this letter. Recall that James began instructing us to, “Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2; ESV). James continued by instructing us to know that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness, so that we can be mature and complete, lacking nothing. In chapter 5 James returns to the theme of patient endurance.
James again is not calling for us to be patient when things do not go our way. James is not talking about the need to be patient when you are running late and you are caught by a red light.
James is calling for patient endurance in the face of difficulties, suffering, and persecution for the name of Jesus. It is a compound word that means, “longsuffering.” We see this connection in verse 6, “You have condemned and murdered the righteous person.” The Christians are suffering because they are Christians. They are suffering for doing what is right. They are suffering for standing for righteousness. James is going to teach us how to deal with suffering. James is going to reveal to us how we can have this patient endurance.
Now to understand that, we better know what patience is and what it isn’t.
Patience isn’t, getting bored and finding something else to do.
Illustration: If we have a 1000 piece puzzle to put together, it is going to take patience. If we get bored and walk away and come back 6 hours later, did the puzzle get put together? Of course not. It will look just like it did when we walked away. So patience isn’t walking away to come back to it later.
Illustration: Here’s another example. Has anyone ever had to give their dog a bath? Or has anyone ever had to change a motor in a car or truck? Well in both cases, it is going to take some patience, it is going to take some work. But if we don’t like it, and decide to take a one hour break, the job doesn’t get finished. We have to keep at it, put up with the scratches from the dog, or the soapy water splashed all over our face, or the banged up hands, the greasy smudges on our clothes and whatever else happens.
We have to put up with the things we don’t enjoy to get what we want out of it. Heaven is the same way.
Illustration: Let me tell you a story. In 1897 there was a man named Pearl Wait. Mr. Wait came up with the idea of mixing flavoring with gelatin. His wife called it Jell-O. Mr. Wait was not patient. He tried to market his invention for a few years but sales were very slow. He sold his invention to another man for $450. A hundred years later, not one of Mr. Wait’s descendants get a dime of royalties from the 1.1 million boxes of Jell-O sold each day. Mr. Wait, didn’t have enough patience. He missed out, his family misses out every day.
Why all the fuss? Why must James urge us to be patient? Because brothers and sisters WE AIN’T PATIENT!
Illustration: A survey of 1003 adults done in 2006 by the Associated Press and Ipsos discovered the following: –
James 5:7a 7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.
Someone has said, Patience is a virtue, Possess it if you can. Found seldom in a woman, Never in a man.
Illustration: “Perhaps you can relate this story. “One day a man was to meet his wife downtown and spend some time shopping with her. He waited patiently for 15 minutes. Then he waited impatiently for 15 minutes more. After that, he became angry. Seeing one of those photograph booths nearby (the kind that accepts coins into a slot and takes four shots while you pose on a small bench), he had an idea. He assumed the most ferocious expression he could manage, which wasn’t difficult under the circumstances, and in a few moments he was holding four small prints that shocked even him! He wrote his wife’s name on the back of the photographs and handed them to a clerk behind the desk. “If you see a small, dark lady with brown eyes and an sorry expression, apparently looking for someone, would you please give her this?” he said.
He then returned to his office content that, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then four photos must be a full-blown lecture! His wife saved those pictures. She carries them in her purse now.
Shows them to anyone who asks if she is married.”
‘Patience is a virtue,’ suggests the old saying. Yet when we pray for more patience what do we get? We get more affliction!
Patience is listed as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and the only way it can be developed is when we walk through a trial. No other way. If you want patience you will have to face something difficult.
Illustration: The story is told of a young Christian who went to an older man who had walked with the Lord for many years. He said I want to become more patient and I don’t know how. He said, simple, Let’s pray. The man prayed for him and this was his prayer, “Lord send this young man suffering for breakfast, problems for lunch and suffering for supper.” It’s the only way.
Patience is only learned through pain, troubles and tribulation.
James 5:7b…. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.
Life is often about waiting. James uses the example of a farmer. He plants and waters. Does he see his crop come up right away? No, he doesn’t. Does that mean he quits? No, it doesn’t. He waters, cultivates and waits for his crop to come up. He is patient.
Illustration: Now I don’t know if any of you have ever done farming And I tell you that farming has not really changed much in the past 2000 years. Sure we have bigger machinery and newer technology, but the basic premise is the same: you throw a seed in the ground, you water it, and in a few months you have a crop. Corn takes 4 to 5 months to grow, depending on the climate. Peas take a month or month and a half, potatoes take while, and if you become impatient and you start digging around at things, or over watering or over fertilizing, you end up destroying the crop. Farming requires lots and lots of patience. You can’t force a seed to sprout, but it grows when it grows and that’s that.
James and his brother Jude probably had some background in farming. In those days, if one did not farm well, he did not eat, so important to know farming.
The early rain started the growth cycle; the latter rain provided moisture to mature the harvest. Water, lots of water, is needed to be absorbed to start the process of growth. As the seed grows larger it eventually bursts from its confining walls. The tip of the root emerges, the seed is anchored, and the new plant absorbs water and nutrients directly from the soil.
Today and even more so in the 1st century, nothing happens unless water comes from the clouds. Patience is needed for farmers since they can’t bring the rain they need from the clouds. Besides prayer there is nothing a farmer can do to make it rain. So they just wait. They treat their crops with chemicals. Then they wait some more. They wait until just the right time and then they harvest their crop.
As we await the return of Jesus, the analogy is clear. Our job is to till the soil, to nurture each other, to make good use of the “early rain” (when Christ came to earth the first time), and to prepare for the “latter rain” when He will come to bring the harvest.
We can see that our waiting in not just sitting around. Farmer must prepare and work. Galatians 6:9, NIV. .. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” No harvest if no preparing, no work.
The word, patient is used 4 times here, twice in v. 7, once in v. 8 and again in .v 10.
This illustration of the farmer tells me at least 3 things.
Look again at this. The harvest is plentiful. In other words, God wants to bless his churches… there’s a great harvest waiting; but there’s simply not enough workers. You say well cant God do it without us? Of course, but He has chosen not to. He has chosen to use us. It is our privilege to work for Him.
As Christians we are spiritual farmers with a spiritual harvest. We too like the farmer spend most of our time in this life primarily sowing and cultivating not mainly reaping rewards. We too must exhibit patience as we look to the harvest – “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). So are we to put on white robes, climb a hill, and wait for Jesus to return?! NO! Read Titus 2:14. Just like the farmer we KEEP WORKING!
“Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing” (Luke 12:43)
James 5:9a…. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned.
And God considers grumbling or complaining a very serious matter because it is an indication that you really don’t trust Him. Our impatience is an indication that we really don’t believe that He is going to care for us — that He’s going to provide what is ultimately the best for us.
It is easy complain and grumble when suffering. It seems to be a natural reaction to grumble about our circumstances. In the process of complaining we discourage ourselves. Notice carefully that James does not specify complaining in general. He says that we are grumbling against one another.
There are a number of ways that we grumble against our brothers and sisters in Christ when we are suffering for righteousness.
(1) We can grumble because we do not understand why we are suffering when we see others not suffering. We might look at the lives of other Christians and think that if anyone should be suffering, it should be them, not us. We grumble because others are not having it as bad as we are. So we try to “one-up” each other, declaring that our suffering is worse than your suffering, as if this were some sort of competition.
(2) We can grumble against each other because people are not paying attention to us the way we think they ought. We want more phone calls or more people asking what we are doing or more people serving us because we are suffering. We are grumbling against our brothers and sisters in Christ because they are not behaving toward me as I want them to.
There are two ways to solve this.
First, recognize you are being selfish. When we are complaining about how people are not doing for me what I think they ought to be doing, we are thinking selfishly and sinfully.
Second, rather than thinking about what you want people to do, why don’t you go do to them what you want them to do for you? Why don’t you show that behavior toward them? Usually this is not the case. We want to sit back and complain about what others are doing rather than proactively doing good toward those to show our love for them. Stop complaining against one another.
James 5:9b…. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!
Nor does the farmer get into fights with his neighbors. One of the usual marks of farmers is their willingness to help one another. Nobody on the farm has time or energy for disputes with the neighbors. James must have had this in mind when he added, “Don’t grumble against each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged” (v. 9). Impatience with God often leads to impatience with God’s people and this is a sin we must avoid. If we start using the sickles on each other, we will miss the harvest!
Here is an interesting illustration. The bible is saying that you and I are not to grumble or complain about each other because the Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ is ready right now to judge.
Make no mistake there is coming a judgment day. We will be judged according to our service and sacrifice as Christians. There will also be a day when every wrong is made right. God never promised here on earth the scales of justice will be balanced. However, the lost world, filled with its immorality will one day drink the cup of God’s wrath.
James 5:10…. 10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.
Look at verse 10. James tells us to look to the prophets as an example. There are good examples and there are bad examples. I am a little surprised to hear James speak of prophets as exemplars of patience. Faithfulness, usually––patience, well, not so much.
So many times when things go wrong we want to cry out- “Oh, God, why is this happening to me? What have I done wrong? Why are you punishing me like this?” But these prophets were walking in the will of God — and yet they suffered
James 5:11…. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
Illustration: Sometimes you have to wait – but what you’re waiting for is worth it!
Let’s say you’re baking a chocolate cake and your 4 year old child is watching for the first time. You might begin by sifting some flour. “Uuoo,” they say, “that’s dry and looks yucky.”
You say, “Just wait.”
Then you put in some baking soda and sour milk. The batter really looks uninviting now. “I’m not going to eat that!” your child says. “Be patient,” you tell them.
Then you put in a raw egg. “That’s gross,” they yell. You smile and say once again, “Just you wait, you’ll see.”
You know how surprised they’re going to be when later, after all the ingredients are in and the mix is baked in the oven, they’ll taste a delicious chocolate cake.
The spiritual lesson is obvious isn’t it?
Often in life we encounter “dry stretches” which are tasteless as flour. We also meet with “sour” experiences like the milk and even some “raw dealings” like the egg; but after we have gone through the oven of affliction, many times something beautiful in our character, in our inner soul is the result.
James points us to one of the OT prophets—Job.
Illustration: The story is told of Abraham Lincoln that his son came in one day and asked, “Father where have you been?” Lincoln said, I’ve been to the war department. He asked well is there any news? He said yes plenty of news, but no good news. It’s dark everywhere. Lincoln then reached over and took a Bible from the shelf, opened it and started reading. 15 minutes passed and Lincoln’s wife noticed the sad look on Lincoln’s face was gone and now he seemed to be happy. Wondering what had happened, she walked over to see what book he was reading from in the Bible. She looked and saw that he was reading from the comforting book of Job.
And v11 reminds us of Job who lost everything but still waited on the Lord! And so…. No matter what happens on earth for us and how long of time, we are to wait on God’s promises for us.
And to this day, thousands of years later when we speak of this man named Job, more than anything we still speak of his patience. The patience of Job. And perhaps that’s where Lincoln found his comfort that night.
When we look at people’s lives we are most impressed with those who stuck it out through the hard times.
James says you are blessed if you persevere.
You’ve seen what the Lord did for Job and He is full of compassion and mercy.
Illustration: You may have heard the story about the woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and given three months to live. She was getting her things “in order” – and contacted her Pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her funeral. After discussing what she wanted for her service she then said: “There’s one more thing, this is very important. I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.” The pastor looked at the woman — not knowing quite what to say. “Does my request surprise you?” the woman asked. ““yeah,” said the Pastor, “I’m very puzzled.” The woman explained: “In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the main course dishes were being cleared, someone would often say, ’Folks, keep your fork.’ It was my favorite part because I knew something better was coming… like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance!
So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ’What’s with the fork?’ Then I want you to tell them: ’Keep your fork…the best is yet to come.’ ”
God promises that he will reward those who persevere through pain – through problems – through the things we many times become impatient about. That’s not my promise — that’s His — and you can trust it.
Illustration: Think about the people who are the most admired in history.
And not only were these people admired, but they all accomplished significant things. They all had an impact on the world.
For us as Christians, patience, endurance, fortitude, perseverance is no less an important characteristic. The idea of overcoming in the face of persecution and suffering is one of the key ingredients for God’s blessing. It’s when we stick with it, when we persevere for the long haul, that’s when we will see blessing. That’s certainly true in our own lives. It’s when we go through tough times, that’s when our character is formed.
Illustration: A little piece of wood once complained bitterly because its owner kept whittling away at it, cutting it, and filling it with holes, but the one who was cutting it so remorselessly paid no attention to its complaining. He was making a flute out of that piece of ebony, and he was too wise to desist from doing so, even though the wood complained bitterly. He seemed to say, “Little piece of wood, without these holes, and all this cutting, you would be a black stick forever – just a useless piece of ebony. What I am doing now may make you think that I am destroying you, but instead, I will change you into a flute, and your sweet music will charm the souls of men and comfort many a sorrowing heart. My cutting you is the making of you, for only thus can you be a blessing in the world.”
And we not only are we blessed when we persevere, but God can accomplish great things through us
James 5:12…. 12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.
The second indication of impatience is swearing.
Do What You Say
James concludes his thought by drawing attention to this last statement with the words, “Above all.” At all times, times of joy and times of suffering, we must keep our word. When we say that we will do something, then we will do it. If we say, “yes,” then it is a yes. If we say, “no,” then it is no. The need to take oaths shows that we are not faithful to our word. If people need us to cross our heart and make an oath on someone very important to us, it shows that people do not believe us. We have no integrity with our word. We say we will do something, but then we do not do it. James condemns us for this. If there is anyone on earth who keeps his word, it must be the Christian. James’ teaching mirrors Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:34-37.
We need to be careful of saying yes lightly–just to sound willing or because we hope somehow that if we say yes it will work out in the end. When we say yes, others begin to work and act as if that is the case.
A faithful, godly life is a powerful testimony! I mean why is it that those who spoke in the name of the Lord often must endure difficult trials? So their lives might back up their message! Dr. Wiersbe said: “We need to remind ourselves that our patience in times of suffering is a testimony to others around us.”
If the farmer reminds us to KEEP WORKING, the prophets remind us to KEEP WITNESSING!
See the Bible is clear that it is not the role of a preacher to “win friends and influence people.” It’s our job to “speak the truth in love.” And sometimes that means preaching hard truth. We are called to have conviction and courage.
But sometimes this suffering comes in ways we do not see. In order to teach us patience God allows situations in our lives that test us to see if we really are going to suffer for the Gospel.
I don’t like rude people. To me there is no excuse for being rude.
Illustration: A few years back, I used to stop and get tea most mornings on my way to the church. I usually used to stop at the same place every morning. I would try to be a good witness, and I would talk to the Indian couple that run this tea and general store. They had a nice and friendly attitude. They would always say good morning and I was trying to build a relationship to witness.
One day, I was getting my tea and an older couple were getting coffee. I was trying to strike up a conversation. I was trying to be a witness. In comes 3 younger men on their way to work. They look like and talk like they had a rough night. One of them walks right by me and between this older couple and BURPS. I didn’t feel too friendly anymore kindness. To be a good witness, were the farthest thing from my mind. It turned out that man was behind me in line to pay his bill at the counter. I always tell that nice couple good morning and God bless you today. The man always says thank you and good morning to you sir. I paid for my tea and walked out. The man then said to the rude man behind me good morning sir, he said, “Yeah, give me a pack of cigarettes.”
I walked out and God spoke this to me. I love him too.
See it’s hard to be patient with people that cause us to suffer even in small ways. But even the prophets loved the people that didn’t love them back.
When You Become Impatient With Someone… This Is What This Passage Tells Us…
Keep your focus on Him. The Bible says He is the author of our faith. He got us started and He is also the finisher of our faith. And He will see us through.
So – when you feel like screaming: “God give me patience – and give it now!”
Remember these three lessons:
Conclusion: In 1972, NASA launched the exploratory space probe Pioneer 10. According to Leon Jaroff in Time Magazine, the satellite’s primary mission was to reach Jupiter, photograph the plant and its moons and beam data to Earth. Scientists regarded this as a bold plan because at that time no Earth satellite had ever gone beyond Mars.
Pioneer 10 accomplished its mission and much, much more. In 1973 Jupiter’s gravity hurled Pioneer 10 one billion [100 crores] miles away from the Sun to the planet Saturn. The Pioneer 10 went 3 billion miles to Neptune then 4 billion to Pluto and in 1997- 25 years after its launch, Pioneer 10 was more than 6 billion miles from the Sun and still beamed back radio signals to scientists here on Earth. Most remarkable this little satellite that could did all this on an 8 watt transmitter. It radiates about as much power as a bedroom night light. It just kept going and going and going and accomplished more than it was ever designed to do.
So it is when we keep going on for God and trusting Jesus with every part of our lives. We cannot accomplish anything in our own strength but if we learn to let the Lord live through us and don’t quit we can go farther than we ever thought possible for God.
God won’t give up on you so don’t you give up on God.