• Tony Birkhead

The right TOOLS for the job



Stand Still and Let God Move!

INTRODUCTION

This life is full of obstacles that are sure to bump us and even knock us off our feet. Pain, persecution, troubles and death are part of the journey. How do we respond when it begins to feel like hope is gone? Where do we turn and what are the tools to walk through this part of the journey? James instructs his followers how to hang on when hope is gone!

KEY SCRIPTURE

James 5:7-12

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! 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.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Our world today moves a lot faster than it used to. What are some differences you have noticed from even just a few years ago?

How do you think the “speed” of our world affects our level of patience?

Does the patience of the farmer have any effect on how quickly his crops will ripen? What good will being impatient accomplish?

Why is patience so hard?

What is the danger of grumbling against another brother or sister? How does this grumbling demonstrate impatience?

What does saying “yes” or “no” have to do with our patience?

PRAY TOGETHER

God, help me to be patient with others and for them to be patient with me. Help me to trust your timing in every area of my life and to continue to wait on you. Amen!

MOVING FORWARD

  • In what areas of your life do you have a hard time choosing patience instead of trying to “do it yourself”?

COMMENTARY

James 5:7-12

5:7. In light of God’s ultimate justice, James exhorted his brothers to be patient. The Greek term rendered be patient means “to be long-suffering,” “to endure.” Rather than to seek revenge for wrongs, we are to live in anticipation of the Lord’s coming—Christ’s return. An illustration from farming presses James’s point. The farmer plows his field and sows his seed. He eagerly expects a crop of precious fruit, which he holds dear because of his toil and his dependence on it for survival. The early and the late rains refer to the promised land’s two rainy periods. The early rains began during October and lasted for a couple of months, and the late rains began in February or March and also lasted a couple of months. These rains usually came gradually. The farmer sowed his seed when the early rains came and softened the earth. Then he anticipated the late rains to cause the grain to grow to maturity. Farmers depended on these crucial rains for crop production. Without them, people could face famine.

5:8. Believers are to follow the farmer’s example of perseverance. In light of Christ’s imminent return, we are to strengthen our hearts. We are to persevere in faith and renew our courage and commitment. Our phrase “just around the corner” captures the sense of the words is near. Living in light of Christ’s return should give believers staying power, because at His return believers will be vindicated and the wicked oppressors will be judged.

5:9. The Greek term rendered complain means “to groan” or “to sigh” inwardly and then “to verbalize ill feelings toward someone.” In this context it has the sense of blaming others for one’s difficulties. James wanted believers to stop murmuring or grumbling against one another so they would not be judged. Again he echoed words of Jesus (Matt. 7:1-2). The word look calls attention to and emphasizes a strong warning: Jesus, the Judge, is on the threshold and is about to enter (see v. 8). With the Judge so near, how can believers continue to grumble against and find fault with one another? Verse 9 does not mean Christians will face the same judgment as the wicked (vv. 1-6). Instead, believers will be judged on the basis of their relationship with Christ, and the wicked will be judged on the basis of their lack of a relationship with Him.

5:10. James pointed believers to the prophets as a group for an outstanding example of suffering and patience. The Greek noun translated example comes from a verb that means “to copy under.” It refers to students’ receiving copies of correctly formed letters to use in honing their writing skill. They practiced writing the alphabet under these excellent models. James referred to Hebrew prophets as models of perseverance. Jewish believers would mentally review their history for prophets such as Jeremiah who were persecuted but endured. The prophets persevered under pressure; thus, they were worthy examples of steadfastness.

5:11. See calls attention to James’s emphasis. Those who endured were worthy of congratulations and praise. The word for endured is different from the term for “patience” in verses 7-8 that also has the element of endurance. The word in verse 11 conveys the sense of bearing up under a load without collapsing and of taking blows and having the strength to strike back.

These believers had heard of Job’s endurance, perhaps in synagogue settings in which Job was presented as an example of perseverance. He was not patient in our usual meaning of the word; he “had it out” with God, but he remained steadfast in his faith. We know the outcome from the Lord for Job—the vindication God provided. That God restored Job demonstrates He is very compassionate and merciful. The Greek word rendered very compassionate means “full of pity or of tender affections.” It conveys great kindness. The term merciful has the idea of being moved by another’s suffering. We can count on God’s active kindness and empathy as we endure hardships.

5:12. Here the appeal is for us to avoid using God’s name disrespectfully. Above all does not suggest that this sin is more serious than other sins such as murder, immorality, or robbery. It is simply a common way of bringing a letter to a close, perhaps indicating that what follows in some way summarizes what has gone before.

Although these words prohibit profanity, they are not chiefly concerned about “taking the Lord’s name in vain.” They warn against the use of a hasty, irreverent oath involving God’s name during a time of suffering or hardship. This logically follows the discussion of suffering in verses 10-11. Above all during our stress we should not resort to flippant oaths that communicate something about God to the world that we do not intend.

This prohibition bans the careless use of God’s name to guarantee the truthfulness of a statement. Christians who face suffering can be easily tempted to make a frivolous appeal to God’s name to bargain their way out of trouble or difficulty.

In the New Testament period, some Jews used oaths for frivolous swearing. They would make a statement such as “by my life” or “by my head” to bolster the truth of a promise or statement. They also used evasive swearing. If a person swore by the name of God, his oath was binding. If he swore by another object such as heaven or earth, his oath was not binding. Jesus condemned such false actions. He wanted the words of his followers to be so patently honest that they needed no additional confirmation. James affirmed what Jesus had already said. He wanted an individual’s yes to mean yes, and the no to mean no. God would judge the words of an evasive or frivolous swearer (see Matt. 12:36).

#James #fulfillment

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