This week in our study of James we dove into James 5:7-11. Here’s what James writes to his fellow early Christians scattered throughout the Mediterranean world:
Be patient…Jesus is coming!
Writing to a group of persecuted, homeless, and waiting Christians that had fled from their homes in Jerusalem and dispersed throughout the surrounding areas, James starts this passage off with an encouragement to be patient. However, because no command in the bible ever carries with it the obedience required to be fulfilled, James tells them how they can grow patience. He says, “Be patient, therefore, brother, until the coming of the Lord”. If they could remember by faith that Jesus would in fact come back for His own they would know that their trials were temporary and that hope could be find in the midst of suffering through Jesus.
Be patient…God has a purpose!
“You have heard of the steadfastness of Job and you have seen the purpose of the Lord…,” James writes. In every trial that every prophet or patriarch of the faith endured in the Old Testament, it was clear looking back that God always had a purpose for that trial to glorify Himself and provide for His people. James reminds his once-Jewish/now-Christian audience of these stories of God’s faithfulness in order to spur on their faith in their present trials and suffering. If they could remember that God was faithful, that God had a plan, and that God always came through for the Abrahams’ and the Moses’ and the Jobs’ and the Elijahs’…they too could remember to put their trust in God through of season of great suffering.
Be patient…God never changes!
“…you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful”. There’s something about seeing the Lord in the context of eternity that makes us feel very small and makes Him seem VERY big! This is what James reminds his audience of as he wraps up this thought: through trials and suffering, God never changes. He’s always compassionate. He’s always merciful. He’s always bigger than the trial. And He’s always present through the trial. If God never changes and His character is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then the persecuted Christian’s James is writing to would have great reason to place their hope in the God who’s bigger than their circumstance!
So how can I be patient?
We’ve read about what James had to say to the early church about patience in the midst of suffering…but what about my life? How can I grow patience? Here’s the good news of the gospel for you today:
You’re not patient. In fact, you can’t be patient. The gospel tells me that patience isn’t something that I can muster up or produce in my own strength no matter how self-willed or determined I may be. When I lose control or my anger flairs up I completely forget how to be patient and I respond with impatience, anxiety, and frustration. However, the gospel doesn’t leave me there.
The gospel tells me that while I can never be patient on my own, Jesus lived a life of perfect patience for me…something no man had done before and something no man has done alone ever since. Not only that, the gospel also tells me that when Jesus went to the cross on my behalf, He went with perfect patience for my sin in order to crush my impatience and offer me a brand new life of freedom through Him. Now, by trusting that He lived for me, died for me, and rose again for me I actually begin to grow patience! Wow!!
When I apply this truth to my life...TODAY…in the midst of my anxiety and my fear and my anger…I’m choosing to trust in the finished work of the gospel and place my faith in Jesus instead of in me. This is what it means to live the Gospel Life!! Amen!
So here’s the challenge for you right now: turn to Jesus today in the midst of your impatience. Stop trying to be a patient person on your own. It’ll never work. Run to the cross, look to Jesus, repent of your impatience and look to the perfect patience of your Lord and Savior Jesus. This is where freedom is found…and it’s for freedom that you’ve been set free (Galatians 5:1)!
“…[look] to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Hebrews 12:2-3)