Be Patient and Endure

James 5:7 begins with the word "therefore." This is a logical, connecting word. It's as if James is saying: Because of everything I've just written regarding the judgment that is coming against rich oppressors, "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."

James is again speaking directly to Christians. He's talking to his brother and sisters in Christ who were victims of the ill-treatment he had been discussing in 5:1-6. He encourages them (and us) to be strong; be patient because the Lord is coming and justice will be served! Be patient like a farmer is patient. The farmer plants his seeds and waits months before he will get to harvest his crop. Impatience won't make his crop mature any quicker. Christians must be spiritually patient. Becoming impatient will not benefit us one bit since the Lord works on His time schedule, not ours.

5:8 should encourage us since it declares that Jesus' return is at hand; that is, He could come at any time! Thus, we've always got to be ready. We need to strengthen our hearts for the Lord and His work and remain faithful. Are you ready for the Lord to return? Are you ready to meet Him in judgment and give an account of how you've lived? If not, then you had better get ready, because He could return at any time.

James commanded in verse 9 - "Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!" When people are being oppressed and mistreated, it is natural for them to want to complain and become impatient (even toward those who aren't to blame). However, to do such is to sin, regardless of the circumstances. We are to be patient, not complainers (Phil. 2:14). God hears our every word and knows our every thought; He's standing at the door and judgment is coming! Let us be untiring in waiting for His justice and may we not be guilty of the sin of grumbling.

5:10,11 reads - "My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 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." We need to remember how the prophets of old also suffered wrongs and persevered! We need to learn from Moses' example as well as from men like Samuel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. Ultimately, we're not going to be blessed by God unless we endure to the end (Matt. 10:22). One way or another, the struggles of life will affect us. If we are impatient they will make us bitter, but if we are patient the troubles of life will make us better! Certainly that was true with Job.

The Lord blessed Job for his perseverance, and those today who endure afflictions for the Lord patiently and steadfastly will likewise be blessed. Don't forsake the Lord, even if you suffer tragedy after tragedy--learn from Job's example. Remember, judgment is coming and justice will be served! The pain and anguish we endure here for the Lord and His church cannot even compare to the glory that is waiting for us in heaven (cf. Rom. 8:18).

This section closes with 5:12 - "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." When you say something, mean it! To say one thing and do another is hypocrisy. Such will lead to condemnation from God. Christians must be people of their word. We shouldn't have to swear or take oaths or even make promises! Our word should be our bond. This verse is easy enough to understand although it is difficult to see how it fits into the context. Perhaps some of the afflictions that the brethren were experiencing were causing some of them to take sinful oaths. If you remember, Peter, when he was under pressure, resorted to this very practice when he swore with an oath that he didn't know Jesus (Matt. 26:74)! At any rate, James is emphasizing the importance of this point when he says "above all." Christians, be men and women of your word!

Friends, judgment is coming. Let us live appropriately: be patient and endure!