Patient Patience, Just Chill! (James 5:7-11)

We are currently the society with the least need to be patient about many things. Imagine going back to life without cell phones and computers. In that scenario, if you are home late in the evening and desperately need a piece of information, but you don’t have the books or reference material in the house to get the answer, there was a time when you would need to get to the library or wait until the morning. Now we can just get the answer in a matter of seconds at any time of the day and in most any place.

Though we may have certain concerns about the execution of full justice in America, we do live in a time and place where the gravest of injustices are not allowed to stand and perpetuate. Certainly not like the scattered Jewish believers to whom James wrote in the first century. Most of them were poor, being taken advantage by the rich. They were abused because of their faith, by both their own Jewish brethren who saw them as traitors and by the Romans in the secular Greek culture. They had to endure much, and thus James encourages them to be patient …

James 5:7 – Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

James 5:10 – Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as 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.

He gives three illustrations of patience…

  1. The farmer – Here is a guy who plants his seed and waits a long time for it to bring about a crop to sell. Much can go wrong all along the way. The early season and late season rains (the situation in Palestine) may not come, or may be too copious. Much can go awry before the crop is harvested, but he remains patient and hopeful.
  2. The prophets – So many of the well-known prophets of the Old Testament suffered terribly while simply serving as a mouthpiece for God. It was very unjust. For example, Jeremiah was put in stocks, thrown into prison and lowered into a dungeon, but demonstrated persistent faithfulness. These prophets were a model to follow. The Greek work for “example” is actually the first word in the sentence in this instance (word order in Greek is not as strict as in English, and a way of emphasizing something was to make that word first in a phrase). The term pictures a representative figure of something or someone, particularly to be imitated – a “poster child,” we might say. This same Greek word is used in John 13:15 in the account of Jesus having washed the disciples’ feet, saying, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
  3. Job – Though we have the common phrase “the patience of Job,” he was not actually a great example of that. But he was a wonderful example of endurance, and he gained back twice of all he lost.

So, fine, there are some exemplary models, but still, why should we wait patiently for justice in unfair circumstances? The answer in the text would point to the soon coming of the perfect Judge. He will set all matters straight. And the picture presented by James is that He is standing at the door!  Imagine the judge about to come out of his chambers, with his hand on the doorknob – that is what we should remember when treated wrongly. That is who we should primarily look to.

We may have a chance to live out these truths more and more. Christians are becoming increasingly the target of hate groups, both around the world and even in our own country. Reviled by the popular culture, devout Christians are even mocked at the very moment when 26 of them are gunned down in a church, because they were praying at the time – obviously stupid to be trusting in God when their prayers were in the process of being ignored.

More difficult times may indeed be just ahead, but remember that the Judge is at the door. “Here come da judge!”  (If you’re too young and don’t know what that last line means, Google it with the name “Flip Wilson.”  I don’t have the patience now to explain it!)

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

1 thought on “Patient Patience, Just Chill! (James 5:7-11)

  1. Hi Randy you made a comment that I think I should comment on.

    “Though we may have certain concerns about the execution of full justice in America, we do live in a time and place where the gravest of injustices are not allowed to stand and perpetuate.”

    I think what you are saying is true in terms of major things that effect us on a day-to-day basis.

    Not that many murderers, for example, are roaming the streets killing at will. We have the technology and ability to find most murderers and lock them up.

    However there is still a great amount of wickedness that goes unpunished. The economy was almost collapsed about a decade ago when banks and financial institutions were going broke because of shady financial dealings. Tricky financial things called “derivatives” while legal were unethical, imprudent, unwise and contained massive amounts of … these derivates were termed something like “financial weapons of massive destruction” and they nearly killed the economy. The banks and institutions that got rich doing all this required government bailouts and I’ve heard they went right back to the same shady schemes. But now the situation is worse, the debt of the country is doubled and there is little “ammunition” left if the same scenario unfolds. No one went to jail as far as I know who caused the big financial collapse.

    Eisenhower warned about the “military industrial complex”. Lot’s of military activity takes place, with little accountability. Foreign policy is sometimes driven by the need to have an enemy.

    The media where most people get there information would like everyone to believe that things are great in this country. They may think the only problems are a lack of government regulation.

    The media just a few months ago was hyperventilating about Russian and Syrian aircraft dropping bombs on Allepo. It was said that our government needed to impose a no-fly zone and shoot down those planes.

    Yet wars go on. Other cities were captured from Isis. Depending on who is doing the bombing and who is retaking territory each country will give varying levels of defense for what their military actions.

    “We came .. we saw …” we remove a leader from power and then watch hundreds of Christians get executed. Such is the case across the middle east. Tough leaders who none-the-less were relatively fair to the Christian communities were taken out and we’ve typically seen new governments arise that are far less fair to Christians.

    It seems that everything is OK. How about the financial responsibility of this country? Is it fine that one generation spends more than it can afford? Isn’t that enslaving the generation that follows us?

    Who talks about that? Where is the conscience of this country? Our nation right now is collectively stealing from the next generation. Sure it is “legal” but surely piling up the national debt to where each person alive in this country owes roughly $60,000 (in the “on the books” national debt alone) for the next generation to be enslaved to … this is troubling to say the least.

    I can’t even get started about the lies perpetrated in the media. Our financial distress will ruin this country. It appears that collapse is certain. We are not nearly as defended as we think we are.

    It is likely we will eventually “go bankrupt” which means defrauding other nations of money they entrusted to us. They too are not without means to retaliate when we do this. All our financial dealings are electronic and are subject to hacking.

    There is very little honesty in this country. Apart from some extremely deep repentance in this country all our coveting and stealing (from the next generation or from those who lend to this country) it will bring a cost — a severe cost. Wars will come. Wars in which we will pay a heavy price.

    We are collectively guilty. We are collectively blind. We are collectively dishonest, selfish thieves. We are collectively uncompassionate, unforgiving, proud, ruthless … I could go on.

    If we bolster ourselves by employing others to do our dirty-work and then don’t want to hear about the bad that we do … aren’t we still guilty? In most modern wars countries don’t boast about what they do to other countries. Few countries today admit it if they commit genocide, for example.

    I’m not super-alarmed at all this … it has always been that way. Yet, you just seemed a bit more optimistic about how things are going than I am. Or to be clear your emphasis was on the things that are effecting us in the hear and now.

    Probably many of the main media and entertainment centers of modern society don’t want to focus on the bad — maybe they call bringing attention to our national mistakes “fake news” and use some algorithms to make it less likely that you will know about such things.

    Pray that I’ll do what I should. There is no knowledge of what a righteous country should be like. Few people are concerned that our nation act righteously. And even on the issues we are concerned – we might be misled.

    I’ve little doubt my comment here is fraught with errors. At some point though things have to be pointed out. I’ve not done so adequately.

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