“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5.7-8).
What are James’ first words? Be patient. He actually uses the word patience three times. What is patience? Patience is the ability to wait or to see the greater significance of something. The old-timers called it long-suffering.
What causes us to be impatient? Sin. We believe that we are the center of the universe and everything orbits around us. Sin whispers into our ears and says, “You are so important. You deserve it now! Everyone else should drop what they are doing and cater to your needs. You are sooooooo special!” So how do we move toward being more patient?
First, who was James’ original audience? James wrote “To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion” (James 1.1). The original audience were those Christians who had been scattered from their homes because of persecution. They were pilgrims on a journey, and James had already told them to: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1.2-4).
Then, right before he finishes his letter, James charges them to Be patient. Be patient while you are suffering. Be patient rolls off the lips of a guy who—as history tells us—was taken up to the top of the temple and was thrown off. Be patient. James did not die when he hit the ground, but as he was lying there in excruciating pain, a man walked over to him and clubbed him to death. Be patient. These words are utter in a time of crisis, persecution and extreme suffering. Be patient. James understood Be patient.
So how can we be patient? James gives the answer in v.8: “Establish your hearts…” What does it mean to “Establish your hearts…”? It means to be strengthened or fully committed. It means your heart is fully fixed on something. You do not vacillate or waver. Nothing can nudge you. Is your heart dogmatic? In other words, establish your hearts means “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16.13-14). In love?
How can we practically be patient? We need a personal relationship with someone who is the center of the universe and was infinitely patient with us. He humbled himself and demonstrated the ability to wait and to see the greater significance of others. “In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons” (Ephesians 1.5), and yet he came to this earth and died for us.
Will you walk in humility toward others? Will you “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2.3)? Be patient.
Pastor Mic Knox