Jamesby Douglas Estes
To live in the light of heavenly-not earthly-wisdom requires us to be patient in the world we live in. As believers, we look to God to direct our days, not nurture our self-interests.
Speaking affirmatively to them as ″brothers and sisters″, James reminds his readers to be patient in waiting for the Lord's return (James 5:7). Believers in the first century thought that Jesus would likely return in their lifetimes; for us today, though we are not sure when Jesus will come back, we certainly wish that He would soon, and so the message of patience applies to us as well.
James offers the example of the farmer who ″waits for the land to yield its valuable crop″ (v. 7). This analogy tells his original readers that if they are to go about their Father's business while waiting for Jesus' return, they will experience a great harvest from God. Again, the same thing is true for us today-we are to be patient as we wait for the work, that God does through us, to turn into valuable crops. We are to wait for the rains that God will send to build His kingdom in the days of our lives.
Like the farmer, we are to be ″patient and stand firm″, because Jesus will return to us soon (v. 8). James is implying that God will reward this patience with being a part of the fruit of His harvest.
James then explains what our actions would look like if they were to show our patience. We are not to ″grumble against″ other believers, as we are all working together in the Lord's fields (v. 9). We are not to complain about others, as God will judge us for doing so-and we want to be careful because He will come back soon, so the judgment will be soon also!
James uses another example to complete his argument. He explains that while we are in this world, we can look to the Old Testament prophets for examples of patience and strength (v. 10). Though they suffered greatly, they showed extreme patience as they worked in the Lord's field, waiting for God to reveal His Messiah to the world. As James notes, all those who persevered by obeying God while waiting for His work to come to fruition are blessed. Their perseverance was a result of their obedience.
To conclude, James offers Job as an example. Though bad things happened to Job, he remained faithful to the end, and God blessed him as a result (Job 42:7-17). God's blessing on those who persevere reveals that ″the Lord is full of compassion and mercy″ (James 5:11). As we persevere in our faith, we too can experience the same blessing.
What does showing patience in the face of suffering look like today?
How can our perseverance testify to the goodness of Jesus?