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James 5:1-12. Patience Through The Promises of God. 6-7-19 Devotional

James 5:1-12. Patience Through The Promises of God

6-7-19 Devotional

James 5:1-12       Kevin E. Jesmer

Key Verse: 5:8     6-7-19

You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (8; ESV)

Dear Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for always bringing peace, hope and comfort to our lives. At the end of a hard day’s work, you are always there, ready to hear our prayers, understand our hearts and comfort us. Help me make time for you each day. May I derive my strength and comfort from you. Please illumine my heart through this passage. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

Part 1: Trust In The Lord and In His Justice (1-6)

Verses 1-6, “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 and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.”

In this passage James is calling the abusive and exploitive rich people to repentance. In his day, there must have been a real problem with the rich exploiting the poor. There was a very high slave population in the Roman world. People were cast aside quickly unless they proved their worth to their bosses. I don’t expect there was much mercy for the poor.

It seems foreign to me, one who lives in the year 2019. There are rich in our society, but they don’t seem to be as abusive as James makes them out to be. Many rich people and business owners treat their workers well. They are community leaders. They give to charity. I guess it hasn’t always been like that. I think God has worked through laws and the unions to bring about a more egalitarian and just society. It is all because of the ripple effects of the Gospel. However, there are still a lot of people who are exploited and are treated like virtual slaves by their bosses. They suffer greatly under their control. They cry out for justice.

I think in other countries, in poor countries, or countries under authoritarian governments, the workers are truly suffering under the hands of oppressive bosses. They cry out because of a competitive and oppressive work environment. I would need a lot of faith to step outside of my nation and workforce and compete in an oppressive work environment in some other country and be treated like a slave. Some missionaries choose to do this, subjecting themselves to oppressive bosses, in order to follow the will of God. God bless them.

Abusive rich people will not have the last say. They will have to answer to God. James announces the outcome of the wealthy person’s arrogant lifestyle. Though they have means and resources, the rich have not paid their workers. And because of their corruption, James predicts misery and devastation for them and their possessions. The day of judgment will surely come, and those who have lived in luxury and self-indulgence, ignoring and even exploiting the poor, will weep and wail. All their wealth will rot and be lost forever.

The rich think that all of their financial maneuverings and exploitation of workers will bring them some benefit. But not so. No matter how rich they get, they can never be blessed if they themselves are not a blessing to those around them. They cannot take their riches with them when they go. Their judgment begins in this world. How pathetic it is if there are a whole lot of workers wishing ill will and even death on their abusive bosses. What kind of legacy are the abusive bosses leaving for their descendants and for historians? But there is another factor to consider after this life. They will have to answer for what they have done. Those who hoard wealth, while not paying the wages of the laborer must stand before the Righteous Judge and answer to him concerning those they have oppressed.

Injustice in the world makes righteous people burn with anger. But God’s people don’t have to live with anger and hatred in their hearts. They can cry out God in prayer. The pleas of those treated unfairly have not fallen on deaf ears because the Lord Almighty has heard them. We cannot expect justice in this world, (it is nice when it happens), but we can cry out to God and know he hears us. It may be his will to bring about justice in this life. But definitely justice will be doled out on the day of judgement.

I thank God that I have not been subjected to very much in justice in life. I have rarely tasted racism and prejudice. I work at a job that is very just and treats the workers fairly. I get a good return for my work efforts. I experience freedom and have a great work/life balance. I thank God for this. It is God’s blessing. I believe it is because of the benefits of living in a Christian society where most people identify themselves as Christian. I am reaping the benefits of the Gospel. But I can cannot ignore the plight of those who taste oppression around me.

I think we have all been treated unjustly in one way or another. We have burned with anger towards someone. I learn that I should not seethe in anger and seek revenge. But I need to take it all to the Lord in pray and trust in him. He is the sovereign Lord. He cares about injustice and he intends to do something about it. “Lord, save me from bitterness and anger and a desire for revenge. Help me to always trust in you.”

Part 2: God’s People Must Be Patient (7-12)

Verses 7-12, “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.”

This is the second time he states, “Be patient”. He describes patience as standing firm. This means not wavering. It is assurance that deliverance is going to happen. It is just a matter of time.

It is not easy to be patient. James urges us to look to the farmer. The farmer is a good way of describing the Christian life. As a farmer plants and then patiently waits for the rains, and then for the harvest, so we too must learn to wait on the Lord. Our waiting must not be full of grumbling, nor done with an impatient, rebellious spirit. We must wait with a calm assurance that God hears our prayers and that he will deliver us in his way and in his time. Being patient, we draw closer to God. He keeps his promises. Patience is having an assurance of something. Think one again about the farmer. Even a farmer does not get anxious. He knows that the crop is coming and that his patience will be rewarded.

Job is the paragon of one who is enduring the most unjust suffering. (Paragon is a peerless example. A model or pattern of excellence or perfection.) There was no reason or cause for his intense suffering. He was tempted by his wife to curse God and die. But he never did. He continued in his faith. He endured all of his sufferings and he was able to reveal God to all those around him. Where did his patience and strength come from? It came from God and the promises of God. Job knew that his Redeemer would stand upon the earth. (Job 19:25).

From the world’s point of view, Job was a cursed man, an unlucky person, and miserable. But from a Christian’s perspective on Job’s suffering is different. Look at verse 11b, “…You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” Patience is a Christian virtue. Patience, in itself is a quality of God. Those who endure with patience and faith, in the midst of suffering, grow in this Godly virtue. They experience God’s compassion and mercy.

Patience is intimately linked to faith. It is the gift of God through his word. The root of patience is having faith in the promise of God. Which promise of God is James encouraging believers to hold onto? Look at verse 8 again. Believers are urged to hold onto the Promise of Jesus’ Second Coming like the farmer who holds onto the promise of the coming of a harvest. Faith in the coming of Jesus is tied up with God’s promise and God’s reward. When Jesus comes again, God’s justice will be given. Those who suffered will be set free and enjoy eternal life with their Lord and Savior.

It interests me that James makes no promise that those who are suffering under the oppressive rich will be relieved in this lifetime. He does not promise that. He urges that Christians hold onto faith in the Second Coming of Jesus. He does not say this, but the Christians’ suffering may continue through their entire lifetime. They may die being exploited by the rich. The hope in Jesus’ Second coming is the promise they are urged to hold onto.

I am not anywhere near this level of faith. I expect God to work and work quickly. If I don’t see any intervention quickly then I begin to get disappointed. “Lord, please grant me patience. Help me to hold onto your promises, especially the hope in Jesus’ Second coming.”

Prayer: “Lord, teach me to wait patiently on you and grow in the virtue of patience.”

One Word: Be patient; Jesus will come again.