Sermon: While You Wait Part 1 (James 5:1-12)

While You Wait Pt. 1

James 5:1-12

 

James 5:1-12 (ESV) 

    Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.  [2] Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.  [3] Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days.  [4] Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.  [5] You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.  [6] You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.

    [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.

    [12] But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

There are times when I am more patient than others.  When things are going the way I want them to go I’m patient.  When things are going another direction I’m less patient.  I’m not where James is yet.

In 46 AD when James wrote this letter to his friends at his church who were being persecuted for their faith, he knew what they needed most.  He knew that they needed to be encouraged to endure trials in a God honoring way, he knew they needed to be warned about sin, and they needed to be encouraged to be patient.

How is it that we can wait on the Lord to come and be productive while we wait?  That’s going to be James’ focus in his closing comments.

1.  Patience and Waiting (5:7)

[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. 

We are told to wait patiently until the Lord comes.  This is a great encouragement to those who are being persecuted for their faith.  It’s a great encouragement for us today who find difficult times in life.  Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.

When the Lord returns, He will make everything right.  He will judge those who mistreat you.  I can be patient when I know justice will be carried out.  It is the believer’s duty to wait on the return of the Lord.  There is a sense that the Lord’s coming is given daily to us through His grace and mercy.  As we wait, we must remember we’re not waiting alone.  The Holy Spirit is waiting as well.

The Example of the Farmer-

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.

My wife’s grandfather was a farmer.  I’ve seen him working very hard.  I’ve seen him plowing, planting, mending, and all the things a farmer does.  I never saw him worrying.  He didn’t stand in the field upset because the seed he sowed two days ago hadn’t sprouted yet.  He knew that if he did what he was supposed to do God would take care of the part He was supposed to take care of.  When he came from the fields in the evening he could relax because he had worked hard in the field and the rest was out of his hands. 

The cycle of the farmer.

  • – Prepare the ground
  • – Sow the seed
  • – Wait for rain and sunshine
  • – Wait
  • – Harvest
  • – Wait

The key to this passage is to realize that we can no more speed up the work of God than a farmer can speed up the growing season.  For a farmer, January is a month of waiting.

Why does James use the words precious fruit of the earth?

What makes the fruit precious is because that is what the farmer longs to see.  It’s what he has been looking for.

Paul knew this truth and it kept him going while he suffered trials.

2 Tim. 4:6-8 (ESV) 

    For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.  [7] I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  [8] Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

2.  Patience and Faith (5:8)

[8] You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

What does it mean to establish your heart.  This word translated established comes from a word that was used when in the Book of Exodus we read about Moses’ arms being held up.  It’s a picture of an immovable object.  While we wait on the coming of the Lord, we are to be strengthening our faith so that it becomes immovable.  Would that be a good thing to do while we wait for Christ?

How do we establish our hearts?  It’s not in the middle of a trial.  It’s done before it happens.  We prepare by praying by fellowshipping by reading God’s Word and by practicing on little trials.  Because it is the duty of every believer to honor Christ while enduring trials, we must be prepared.  It’s almost like doing preventative maintenance on our hearts.  When the time comes and our faith is stretched will it be ready?  I hope mine is and I hope yours is as well.  We must pray to that end.

3.  Patience and Complaining (5:9)

[9] Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 

I can remember as a kid waiting in the house for it to stop raining so we could go out and play.  Things were ok for a while.  Monopoly was alright for about an hour.  Before the rain stopped it was inevitable that my brother and I would begin to complain and grumble and before the sun came out, be in a knock down drag out fight over something.  We were tired of waiting. 

James knows what the results are of waiting.  He knows that if we are not careful grumbling will enter the equation.  Even in a local church this can happen if we are not busy with eternal things.  He tells us we shouldn’t grumble against each other.  What James is getting at, and the reason he uses the word grumble is because he is warning us against envy concerning another believer’s circumstances.  Often we may look at someone else and think, man they have it made.  We should remember that we don’t know everything about them and the grass usually looks greener on the other side but rarely is it.  There is a danger for the believer when he or she is not content with what the Lord has supplied.  Be careful when you grumble…remember what happened to the Hebrews in the desert?

Numbers 14:1-2, 11, 21-23 (ESV) 

    Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night.  [2] And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!…

     And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?…

    But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord,  [22] none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice,  [23] shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it. 

4. Patience and Persecution (5:10-11)

[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.

James gives us two examples.

First) he says, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

God gave the prophets a special commission to speak His divine Word.  God loved them.  Yet as an example James says that even the prophets were not exempt from suffering.

Matthew 5:10-12 (ESV) 

    “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    [11] “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  [12] Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

They are blessed because they remain dedicated through the trials.

Second) he says, you have heard of the steadfastness of Job,

 We remember all that Job went through.  Loosing his family, struck down with sores from head to toe, friends offer bad counsel.  Through it all he did not curse God.

We can learn much from these two examples.  These men were beloved by God even while struggling in their trials which James calls the purpose of the Lord.  We have the promise that even while going through trials, the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

5.  Patience and Speech (5:12)

[12] But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

We have already read James’ previous warning about the tongue. 

James 1:19 (ESV) 

    Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 

James 1:26 (ESV) 

    If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 

James 3:5-6 (ESV) 

    So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!  [6] And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 

Do not swear or make an oath.  Do not take the Lord’s name in vain.  Keep very close watch over your speech.  When people go through trials, they are tempted even more to curse.

A person in a trial may even make rash oaths or promises to God.  God you get me out of this mess and I’ll…

As believers we must exercise caution with our speech.

Job’s wife said to him curse God and die.

Rather than cursing and saying things we will want to take back later we must practice patience in our speech knowing that the Lord is working out His purpose and ultimately His purpose is meant for our good.

So what are we to be doing while we wait on the coming of Christ?

Establish our hearts

Do not grumble    Remain steadfast during trials

Do not curse

As we think about these points our attention should immediately turn to the One who modeled these words perfectly for us.

Jesus knew how to wait effectively.  He knew that each day was a challenge.  He knew that he had to enter it through prayer.  Jesus never grumbled, complained or cursed.  He never failed to remain steadfast.  Even when He had the opportunity to declare His innocence, He was silent.  He knew God was working out His plan. 

 Hebrews 12:2-5 (ESV) 

    looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

    [3] Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.  [4] In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.  [5] And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

    “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,

        nor be weary when reproved by him.

%d bloggers like this: