Everyone waits. Kids are waiting for Christmas. Adults are waiting in traffic jams and in check-out lines. Military folks will tell you that boot camp was about hurry up and wait. Doctor’s offices are equipped with a waiting room.
Waiting is something forced on each and everyone of us. The question is how do you handle being made to wait.
7 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. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. Jas 5:7-11
I know I should open with the standard line of “Lord, I want to have patience, and I want it now” but I won’t say that.
This lesson from Ja. 5:7-11 is all about having patience.
He gives us three areas in which we should exercise patience.
1.) Patience about the Lord’s coming. (v. 7)
2.) Patience with one another. (v. 9)
3.) Patience in trials. (v. 10)
Why do you suppose there is such an emphasis on patience?
Could it possibly be that we are an impatient people?
That is, of course, our go-to response, but what is wrong with being impatient?
Or, what is better about being patient?
For all his reported godliness, Abraham Lincoln spoke against patiently waiting.
Good things come to those who wait,
but only what is left over by those who hustle.
Patience is something that is not seen, It usually goes unnoticed.
It is impatience which is generally noticed, especially in public.
Drivers honking their horn in slow-moving traffic, grumbling customers in slow-moving lines.
Being patient is not about waiting as you can see from the two instances just mentioned.
Regardless of the grumbling complaint or the complaining horn, they are both still waiting—along with everyone else.
Patience is not simply about waiting, but it is about the attitude with which you wait.
Research has shown that the uptight person who cannot resist complaining will have more health issues than the ones who have learned patience.
I say “learned patience” because being patient is not a gift, it is an acquired skill.
Most acquired skills in life take time to learn and practice; and patience is no different.
However, there is a key to patience which one can use to gain it more quickly than most.
The key is to recognize that God’s timing is the best time for all things.
I learned early on that He is the God of 11:59.
He is the God of 11:59
Have you had the same experience?
When it appears that all is lost, and there is hardly a thread of hope left, things always work out.
In The Lord of the Rings, Gandolf’s first appearance among the Hobbits is one of being late, and he is accused of such.
He responds with, “A wizard is never late, but always on time.”
God is always on time.
And so we can look at these three areas for which James tells us to have patience as something to consider in the light of God being on time with the correct results.
First, there is the patience needed for the coming of the Lord.
Secondly, there is the patience needed with one another.
And third, there is the patience needed as we face our trials.
Advent is about waiting for and celebrating the coming of the Lord the first time as a baby born in Bethlehem.
But, we have been promised another coming of the Lord, for which almost all Christians wait.
We have seen that we are not to try to figure out when that might be, and James tells us here that we are to wait patiently for that event.
Peter also speaks to this lack of patience in one of his letters.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years,
and a thousand years as one day.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness,
but is patient toward you,
not wishing that any should perish,
but that all should reach repentance.
Peter is pointing out the fact that for God, there is no time as we know it.
It may seem like a thousand years to us, but it is still the same day with God.
In Peter’s time, people were giving up on their expectation of the Lord’s return, much as people have done in our time.
One of the reasons for this giving up is the “boy who cried wolf” syndrome.
We have been fooled so many times by our so-called prophets, that we have lost the belief that there is a return coming.
But the Lord will return, and we are to have patience as we await His return.
The patience which does not give up.
The patience which allows us to go about our daily life all the while expecting His return.
The patience which does not go running after every so-called sign or wonder or end-times prophecy conference to see if it is happening now.
While we are patiently waiting for that event, we are also to be patient with those around us—especially those who try our patience.
Do you have someone like that in your life?
Someone who gets on your nerves just by being on the planet?
We have all had at least one like that in our life.
But James tells us to be patient with them, in the same way we heard Paul tell us to accept everyone regardless of our differences.
Do not grumble against one another, brothers (v. 9)
Grumbling about another is a sign of a lack of patience with them and the Lord, regardless of what your complaint is about.
Any complaint about another reveals a lack of trust in the Lord as Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans.
Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?
To their own master, servants stand or fall.
And they will stand,
for the Lord is able to make them stand.
We should understand that someone may not be acting or believing like we think they should be, but it is not up to us to complain about it.
If something must be said, then say it to the person, not to someone else.
Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in discussions about “those sinners” regardless of the sin.
Paul indicates here that we should just leave it alone for the Lord to deal with in His time.
The reality is that we have no idea why someone is doing what they do.
You may think it is absolutely contrary to the ways of God, and it may be; but that does not mean God is touching that particular area of their life at the moment.
Were you cleaned up and 100% pure the moment you came into the awareness of your salvation?
Didn’t it take time for some of your more obvious faults to fall away?
How do you know the problem you have with someone’s behavior might not be at the top of God’s list for them?
Let’s recall how the Lord dealt with Paul at the beginning.
For you have heard of my former life in Judaism,
how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.
And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people,
so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.
But when he who had set me apart before I was born,
and who called me by his grace,
was pleased to reveal his Son to me,
Paul was ordained to serve the Lord before he was born.
His life was not in line with how we would understand serving the Lord.
He stood by and approved of the stoning to death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
Eventually—in God’s time—things changed for Paul.
Eventually, things will change about the one whose actions or beliefs you don’t approve.
Paul’s prayer is one we can all use.
Now may the God of patience and comfort
grant you to be like-minded toward one another,
according to Christ Jesus,
He is the God of patience and His patience has a purpose.
Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant,
and patient God is with you?
Does this mean nothing to you?
Can’t you see that his kindness
is intended to turn you from your sin?
While we may be impatient with someone, God is not.
Our impatience can do much to hinder the work of God in that person’s life.
And finally, we are to be patient in our trials.
As an example of suffering and patience, brothers,
take the prophets (v. 10)
What does a trial look like?
It is anything that tests your patience.
James tells us to not only consider all that the prophets were made to endure, but also the suffering of Job.
Job is an example of patient endurance under trials.
He lost most of his family and fortune, but he never lost his faith.
If he could do that, then we should be able to put up with a traffic jam, or another’s inconsistent or even irreverent behavior.
Yes. Patience is a virtue.
But it is not only something that we should have as followers of the Lord.
It is also a healthy benefit.
Research has shown that patient people were less likely to report health problems like headaches, acne flair-ups, ulcers, diarrhea, and pneumonia.
Other research has found that people who exhibit impatience and irritability tend to have more health complaints and worse sleep.
If patience can reduce our daily stress, it’s reasonable to speculate that it could also protect us against stress’s damaging health effects.
Jesus said it this way.
In your patience you possess your souls.
Souls is not about your spirit, but about your life.
Replace the word souls with the word life.
In fact many of the modern translations say you will win your life.
Patience is something that can be improved upon regardless of your age.
What one area can you concentrate on this week to increase your patience factor?
Be patient, then,
until the Lord comes,
not grumbling about others or yourself,
and may you stand strong in your trials.