James 5:1-12

Patience, 20 November 2011

Big Idea: we must live as if Christ will return today, and patiently wait for Him as if He will come later.

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you. (James 5:1-6)

What is James saying here? Very simply, we cannot rely on our riches but, instead, need to put our trust in God. We have repeatedly said that each of us is financially rich compared to the rest of the world.

Greed is not good.
  • We are to be good stewards of our wealth.
  • Generosity honors God and blesses people.

  • Note that it is not wealth itself that is bad, but the love and hoarding of it.

  • One writer said to summarize this text, “A believer who seeks spiritual growth dare not become caught up in the accumulation of wealth for himself. He should share his possessions for God’s glory and the good of others.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary by Walvoord and Zuck)

  • I used to consider myself a patient person...until I had kids!

  • It is difficult to be patient in our culture because things happen so rapidly. People live busy lives and when a slowdown occurs, we often don’t know how to react.

  • James writes...

  • Be 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.You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. (James 5:7-8)

  • It’s easy to get impatient. This is true in the short-term when we are waiting for a red traffic light to turn green, for instance, but also in the long-term.

  • Students, how many of you can’t wait until graduation? For some of you it is years away!

  • We have singles in this room that may be impatient about finding a spouse.

  • There are hurting parents here today that have been waiting years for their wayward children to return to Jesus.

  • Most of us would say that we long for the return of Jesus. We are excited about heaven and eternity in the presence of Christ.

  • What I find interesting is that Jesus said He would return...when? Soon! I guess soon means different things to different people! 2000 years is not my definition of soon!

  • In life, we need to think of the long-term, the ultimate goal. The race we run is a marathon, not a sprint. The LORD’s coming is near and we need to be ready. We need to be ready to persevere until He returns. We need to be focused and intentional about how we live our lives. We need to live with the urgency of knowing that at any moment the trumpet could sound, signaling the arrival of Christ. Some have said, “Jesus is coming. Look busy!” That’s not exactly the point, but we are to be patient as we await His return, yet also stand firm, regardless of the circumstances that surround us.

  • Peter wrote…

  • But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

  • But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

  • Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. (2 Peter 3:8-12)

  • We are to be patient and stand firm. We cannot speed up the return of Christ any more than the farmer can speed up the harvest.

  • Patience is a part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. If we ask for patience, we will surely receive...but asking for patience is a dangerous prayer!!!

  • James continues...

  • Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:9)

  • Children have been known to misbehave when the teacher steps out of the classroom. Often someone will play lookout and warn everyone when the teacher is coming.

  • In a similar manner, the Judge, the King, Jesus Christ is coming and we need to be ready. We need to not only look busy, we need to be busy doing the business of our Father.

  • We need to be ready.

  • Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As 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. (James 5:10-11)

  • There have been countless martyrs throughout history that have been killed simply because of their faith in Jesus. At this moment there are brothers and sisters around the world facing persecution and execution for following Christ.

  • It’s going to be worth it.

  • Friends, this life is so short compared to eternity. Someday God will judge. He will set things straight. He will honor those who persevered like Job. Note that it does not say that Job had patience, but he endured and was steadfast despite his impatience with God!

  • That last sentence is powerful—the LORD is full of compassion and mercy. There are days when it doesn’t feel like it, times when it seems that God is taking a nap, moments when we wonder if He is good, but I’m here to tell you and James is here telling us that He is full of compassion and mercy. He can be trusted.

  • Above 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. (James 5:12)

  • This is not speaking of profanity, but of an oath or promise. God is watching...and He will return soon so we are to always be honest and trustworthy or we will be condemned and fall under judgment.

  • So what’s the big idea? We are to persevere and patiently wait until the return of Jesus. He is watching. Our lives matter. Our actions matter.

  • We are to stand firm.
  • We are not to grumble.
  • We are to remain steadfast during trials.
  • We are not to break promises.

  • This text reminds me that we are to live not only for today, but also for tomorrow. That’s what Jesus did. He modeled patience and endurance. He never grumbled or broke a promise. He remains our example, and promised to be with us always through the Holy Spirit.

  • King David wrote

  • I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:13-14)

  • Good things will eventually come to those that wait.

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