7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! ~ James 5:7-9
Today, we return to our study of James 5 where James shows us the value of God's wisdom in our lives. We are involved in a tremendously big battle between good and evil, and it is God's wisdom that enables us to recognize the fine details involved. This wisdom is garnered by us from God as we go through our trials which are designed to show us how to be dependent upon the God of the Bible.
In v.7 of today's text we read, "Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains."
Patience in the midst of trials is of utmost importance if we are to gain a transcendent view of life from God. We only triumph as we are given the ability to evaluate time through the lens of eternity. Foolishness is the result of viewing eternity through the lens of time only.
The group to whom James wrote were Jews who converted to Christ. These believers in Christ who were scattered from their homes were facing various intense trials. They faced afflictions and persecutions which required patience. They needed to learn patience which is one of the designs of our trials. Patience is needed because the Lord's timetable is not like ours.
The word "patient" here means longsuffering with adverse people. This is yet another test of the faith that has as its object the God of the Bible. This word in the Greek, makrothumeō, means "long-tempered." It means to have a long fuse with someone or something that is trying our patience. Patience is enduring someone who is mistreating us, and not being angry with them and resisting treating them as they do us. It is being slow to anger. Just as God is long-tempered and very patient with us, so we should be with others.
The first sentence in this verse reads, "Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming."
It helps us to be long-tempered when we are anticipating the Lord’s coming. When we live as if today is the day of His return, we will gain His patience. And, when we are persecuted even more, we will live in the light of the Lord's coming. On the other hand, when we are comfortable and problem-free, we are less mindful of our need for His return. If we are going to endure whatever suffering comes, we must fix our eyes on the the next arrival of the Lord Jesus. Interestingly, one out of every thirteen verses in the New Testament makes a reference to the arrival of the Lord Jesus. His coming is soon.
In order to help us understand and to live accordingly, James gives us this illustration of the farmer who waits on the process of growth. The farmer waits. That’s how it is if you’re a farmer: you plant, and then you wait. And that conveys the idea of looking expectantly for something outside oneself. The harvest, frankly, depends on the providence of God. It depends on God bringing together all of the right components to make a good crop.
The farmer waits "for the land to yield its valuable crop." "Valuable" here means precious. It’s precious to him because it takes a long, long time to get the harvest. It is precious because he depends on the long-awaited harvest for his existence. He demonstrates long-tempered patience as he long awaits the crops arrival. He waits through the autumn and spring rains. The first rain softens the land and the latter rain yields the harvest. What a picture of God's work in our hearts. He has to break our hearts or to allow them to be broken, in order to heal our hearts.
Now in Israel the rains come twice a year. We plant in the fall and the rain comes in the season of planting in October and November, that’s the autumn rain. Then, the spring rain comes in March and April, right before the harvest. And so we have to wait for the process which takes time, lots of time. So, in the same way a farmer is patient until the season passes and the crop grows to maturity, so must the believer must be patient awaiting God's precious arrival.
In v.8 of today's text we read, "You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near."
To "stand firm" means for our hearts to be strengthened. This same word is used in Luke 9:51, where we learn that the Lord Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem. The root of this word literally means "to prop yourself up." When we are about to collapse under persecution, we must prop ourselves up with the hope of the soon return of the Lord Jesus. This is a word of resoluteness, a word of firm courage. It’s an attitude of commitment, that no matter what the trial we confidently move ahead.
In v.9 of today's text we read, "Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!"
James reminds us here to resist being defined by the flesh. We must recognize that persecution is our friend. While it can create all kinds of frustration, it could be our servant, reminding us to be defined by the Lord. But, when we are not defined by the Lord, frustration gets the best of us and we allow it to usher in sin, sins like bitterness and revenge and rejection of others. This is not the Lord's desire and way.
The Greek word used here translated "grumble" is found six times in the New Testament. It means to sigh, to groan, or to murmur, and can even be used of inaudible prayer. In this case, grumbling is a mark of impatience and is an indication that faith has failed, so that what was meant for a test has become a temptation. Grumbling against others is a sin that occurs whenever we lapse into thinking that the world is not fully under God’s control. It shows a lack of self-control in the face of suffering, and it is fueled by frustration, hurt, and anger. Grumbling is an attempt to defend our interests, or to get back at those whom we perceive to have wronged us. And, the key component in resisting this temptation is patience.
The judgment here is not the judgment of hell for the believer in Christ. Remember, James wrote to Christians who knew the forgiveness of their sin. But, could there have been unbelievers in their ranks? Of course! And, for those the judgment was the judgment of hell. And, we, as believers in Christ, factor into this process. When we demonstrate God's wisdom and patience, we are used of God to provide and example to unbelievers of what it looks like to have a personal relationship with God. And, God wants to use our lives as a billboard in the lives of those who are yet to believe in Him.