WAIT PATIENTLY FOR THE LORD
This morning God, through James, is going to ask each of us to do one of the most difficult things that we, as followers of Christ, could be asked to do!
I would like for you to look with me at vs. 1 of James 5.
Vs. 4 says, Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth (Host).
Now vs. 6: You (the rich) have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.
Now, if someone did this to you, how would you respond?
Something like that would probably make us angry (quite evidently it did these brethren that James is writing to or he wouldn’t write what he does in the next few verses) And if something like this happened to us it would frustrate us…and it would tempt us to get even…to strike out…to retaliate.
The world would tell us to get even; to do unto them as they have done unto you…to get revenge.
Look again at verse 1, and I want you to notice that, even though it often seems that those who do these kinds of things get away with it, they really don’t. Look what James says:
1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!
Now vs. 5: You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.
Those who cheat and swindle and mistreat others often think they have gotten away with what they have done; they are so proud of themselves; but God knows exactly what they did…and they will receive their just recompense.
Look at verse 7. James says: Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.
Listen, when the Lord comes again…every deed will be brought to light.
Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.
They may think they have gotten away with it…but they haven’t.
Remember 2 Corinthians 5:10? The apostle Paul says: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
And this is the last verse of Ecclesiastes: For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether good or evil.
The Lord knows the injustices; and He knows those who cheat and swindle; and He will take care of it…and as hard as it may be we must wait on the Lord.
In fact, remember what Romans 12:19 says: Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
So, it is not our place to exact revenge. The Lord will do that and we just have to be patient.
In fact, look at vs. 7again: Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.
We know what it is like to wait on rain don’t we.
But we probably had no idea that waiting for it to rain was the Lord’s way of training us to wait for His return.
And, just as the rain eventually comes; He will too.
Look at verse 8: You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
But, sometimes it isn’t easy to be patient…especially if someone is mistreating and cheating us like they were these people.
Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.
When we are going through hardships…it is so easy to start finding fault with others, even those closest to us.
Remember the nation of Israel…how they complained against God…and against Moses and Aaron.
We do no good for anyone or ourselves when we become impatient and attack our leaders…or one another.
And if you or I think we can “grumble under our breath…murmur in such a way that no one hears us.”
If you and I think we can grumble in such way that no one can hear…well, look at vs. 9.
So James tells us to “be patient…the Lord is coming…and he tells us not to complain against one another.”
Now look at verse 10. He tells us to be encouraged by historical examples. Look at this. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.
James says, “Look at the prophets of old.
How do we count those men?
When people endure…and are patient…and wait on the Lord…even when they are persecuted…that is what they are.
Remember what Jesus says in Matthew 5:11. Jesus says:
Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12 “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Steadfastness while being mistreated…patient waiting for the Lord while being persecuted is powerful evidence of one’s genuine faithfulness…and constitutes an assurance of his eternal salvation.
In James 5:11 James mentions Job to encourage us. And he says: You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.
Job suffered it all…except for death.
And what did God do? Job 42:10
And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold.
Now, I told you at the very beginning that what God asks us to do here would test our faith.
How we react to that kind of mistreatment will say a lot about our faith!
It is not easy to simply let God handle it when we are cheated; swindled; and slandered.
Now, look at vs. 7 again. In vs. 7 James says that the “Lord is coming again. Just as sure as the rain eventually comes and brings forth the crops, the Lord is coming again.”
You and I do not want to be judged on our actions because no matter how good we have been we fall way short of God’s glory.