The Pursuit of Patience - James 5: 7-12
Patience... it’s hard isn’t it?
It’s pretty clear that we can be in life situations where we have no choice but to be patient. The same is true for the church back in 44 AD when James was writing this letter. James exhorts these believers on how they should go about living in the midst of the persecution and abuse. But James calls them, and now us to embrace Christ like patience. This type of patience when exhibited in our lives breaks the power of persecution, it brings healing in the midst of sickness, it brings comfort in the midst of loss, it perseveres and it always wins. James lays out some qualities to describe the type of patience he wants believers to exhibit in their patience. These qualities reflect Christ.
1: Christ like patience is not passive. (v. 7-8)
The word patience in the New testament greek can carry a couple of different nuances. The first nuance is upomeno which means to endure. This type of patience plainly means to wait and be still. But the word used here is v.7 is makrothomew. This Greek word is not passive, rather it calls believers to action to persevere to not be passive.
“Be patient James exhorts and wait until the Lords return but don’t just passively wait.”
In other words, Christians don’t waste your time or life away waiting for the Lord’s return but take advantage of this waiting period of life. Strengthen your hearts, your minds, your body, strengthen your faith as you wait... carry a militant patience. As we patiently wait that does not mean we just sit and twiddle our thumbs.
As we patiently wait in the midst of persecution and trials don’t just sit idly by. Continue to stand up for justice, continue to proclaim truth, continue to pray, continue to gather with believers, continue to read scripture, continue to connect people to Jesus to grow them up to love and serve him as we patiently wait for His return.
2: Christ like patience focuses on Christ not circumstances. (v.9)
When we are undergoing life’s challenges; persecution, illness, death it is so easy for our focus to shift from Christ to our circumstances, yet Christ like patience stays focused on Christ.
Look at what these believers were doing in v.9.... Complaining and grumbling to one another. James calls them to be patient as they wait for the Lords return, therefore stop complaining and grumbling to and about one another.
Take your focus off your circumstances and put them on Christ. The problem with keeping our focus on our circumstances is that it completely distracts us from keeping our focus on Christ. Our circumstances can actually become our lord the thing we worship whether we know it or not.
Think about all that time you spent complaining to your friends about your health crisis when you could have been talking about Jesus. That time you spent complaining about your job or your boss that you could have been sharing Jesus. Our complaints waste our time and most importantly they distract us from our ability to share the gospel, or strengthen our faith or another’s. Allow God to highlight ways in which your current circumstances can make him known and bring glory to him.
3: Christ like patience perseveres fuelled by the character of God (v.10-11)
Look at how James appeals to Job as an example of a man who exhibited Christ like patience. James is the only New Testament writer who mentions Job and how he endured all sorts of trials everywhere from the loss of loved ones to all sorts of health crisis. Yes through it all he challenged God.... “but he never gave up and he never cursed God. In fact in Job 42:7 we see God praising the way Job spoke.”
What I find fascinating about the story of Job in particular is that he had endurance yes but I believe his endurance was fuelled by his theology. Job knew the way he was feeling did not change the truth about who God is. Even though Job felt like God left him, he knew the promises of God were true, and the word of God was sure, and Job never left God. Job knew who God was. He knew his character and he clung to the character of God through it all. That’s Christ like patience.
We have the same assurance in Jesus Christ...death is not final, our sickness our pain our persecution, it doesn’t end there. Our God does not get defeated by cancer, by persecution, by suffering that’s all temporary. Our God is victorious, righteous, gracious, compassionate & merciful as our text says. Our Christ like patience is fuelled by the character of God.
Do you know His character? Do you know your theology?
4: Christ like patience produces blessing in our lives.
As we look at the word of God we see the practical results of patience produced.
1. PROSPERITY. James 5:7 Patience leads us to prosperity. There is a time of waiting before we can receive the reward of our labour. A farmer sows the seed, ploughs the field and labours but he has to wait patiently till the time of harvest.If he is impatient and gives up he will lose his harvest.Many people miss prosperity and success in their life because they lose patience when their labour does not give immediate results.But patience will help us to reach the prosperity that is waiting for us if we continue to labour till the time of harvest.
2. PEACE. Psalms 37:7 & Phillipians 4:6
Patience helps us to enjoy peace and happiness in our life.Every thing in life takes its own time.If we are impatient we will spend our life in restlessness, anger, resentment, worry, fear and anxiety. But patience helps us to live peacefully even when we have to wait. Many times our impatience and anger and anxiety does not speed up matters in any way.Therefore it is wise to be patient during the waiting period and enjoy peace and joy.
3. PROMOTION. I Peter 5:6 Psalms 105:19
Patience helps us to receive the promotion that God gives us. When we are submitted in the mighty hand of God He will lift us up in due time. But if we are impatient and get out of His hand we will miss the promotion that God has in store for us. Joseph in the Old testament was patient in the midst of severe trials until the time came for God to lift him up.
4. POWER. Isaiah 40:31 Colossians 1:11
Patience helps us to receive the power of God. Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.Waiting on God requires patience. If we are impatient we will find it difficult to wait on God and thus fail to receive His power.A car which does not take time to fill itself with fuel cannot travel very far. Therefore a person who does not wait on God to receive power will not achieve anything of eternal value.
5. PROMISES. Hebrews 6:12,15 Hebrews 10:36
Patience helps us to inherit and enjoy the promises of God. Every promise of God has a time of fulfilment. Therefore we need faith and patience to see the fulfilment of God’s promises in our life. If we lack patience we will miss seeing the fulfilment of God’s promises.God’s promise to Abraham took many years to be fulfilled.Therefore patience helps us to wait and inherit the promises of God.
7. PERFECTION. Luke 8:15 Romans 2:7 James 1:7
Patience helps us to reach perfection and maturity. A tree needs time for it to grow to maturity and produce fruit. Similarly we cannot reach spiritual perfection overnight.We need patience to be fruitful christians and to grow into full maturity in our spiritual life. If we are impatient we cannot grow into maturity.Day by day we grow into the likeness of Christ and patience helps us to go through this process of growth and maturity.
When we are forced to wait lets make sure we exhibit Christ like patience by exhibiting a militant patience and using our circumstances to grow in our relationship with God and to strengthen others around us.
Lets keep our focus on Christ not the circumstances. Lets avoid the temptation to complain and instead use our situation to encourage others towards Christ. Remember... your theology... the character of God fuels your ability to persevere.
Pursue the peace of Christ and let it enrich not only your life, but the lives of those around you.