10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. 12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned. ~ James 5:10-12
We return to our study of James wherein we have been taught the value of our faith in the God of the Bible. In addition, we have learned the value of acquiring God's wisdom through the trials we face. And, we have learned the importance of our sanctification.
The flesh, which is the evil desires that are yet within us, has such a way of convincing us that its way is the best for us. In fact, when we feed the flesh, we think it is an okay thing. But then comes the corruption that comes with feeding or giving into the flesh. The accompanying corruption always serves as a reminder that the flesh is not good at all. To give into the desires of the flesh is destructive and could be a sign that we have not entered into a personal relationship with the Lord. This is not to say that the believer will be perfect, but as we grow in our walk with Him and we acquire God's wisdom, we will turn away from sin.
In our last blog and podcast we learned the utter necessity of being patient in the midst of our trials. James reminds us of the soon appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ and how knowing this will help us to be long-tempered or patient with others, even when they treat us badly. Knowing that Christ will return and take us to the place where there will be no more sorrow, trouble, death, pain, or tears helps us to endure with patience in our trials. Being defined by the One who gave His life for us, results in our ability to resist the flesh and all of its corruption and death.
In v.10-11 of today's text we read, "10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy."
We all tend to obey God a little bit easier when we have an "example" to follow. And, here, James directs our attention to the Old Testament prophets and Job who demonstrated patience in the midst of their trials. These two examples suffered greatly. And, both were patient with their circumstances and with the people who treated them badly. In the midst of it all, they spoke the truth, suffered affliction, and did it with patience.
The last sentence in v.11 of today's text reads, "The Lord is full of compassion and mercy."
According to this verse, the Lord is literally "many-boweled." The phrase "full of compassion" is a contraction of two Greek words, "many" and "bowels." This word was coined by James and it had never appeared anywhere else before this. It teaches us that God not only has compassion, but, He has multiplied compassion.
In addition, God is also "full of mercy" which means He is tender and soft-hearted. He bears our pain. He embraces our sorrows and cares. This is why we must, "Cast our cares on Him, for He cares for us."
In v.12 of today's text we read, "Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned."
We always think of bargaining with God when life goes wrong. We have all said to Him, "God, if you will do this, I will do that." God doesn't want our relationship with Him to be a bargaining tool, it is so much more than that. It is a father son relationship where the heart must be engaged. Otherwise, it lacks authenticity, and the lack of authenticity stunts the relationship and stunts the message that God wants to speak through our lives.
True believers in the Lord Jesus are proven to be such through the words we say. The words that we say give us an indication of our spiritual maturity. When we speak the truth, we will be set apart from the world, and the world will know our integrity. And, perhaps, they might listen to our message more readily.
If our lives are consistently marked by that which is in direct opposition to God, we do well to make sure that we have believed on the Lord Jesus and we have received Him into our lives as our Savior. When the Lord Jesus Christ comes into a life, His presence should be increasingly obvious in and through that life. This does not mean we will ever be perfect this side of heaven, but He will express Himself through us. And, if He never expresses Himself through us, we should check to see if we are really saved.
When we suffer and we live in concert with our faith in the Lord Jesus, God will use that in the lives of unbelievers. The world anxiously looks to us to be the billboards of His compassion and mercy. And, when we live consistently resisting the flesh and being defined by God, well, others will see it and some will be impacted for eternity.