When was the last time you asked God to increase your patience? The Holy Spirit gives us patience (Gal 5:22), but we usually shy away from asking God to increase it. Thomas á Kempis once said that “All men commend patience, although few are willing to practice it.” We want people to be patient with us but struggle being patient with others. We shy away from asking God to increase our patience because we know He will bring someone into our life we can practice on. But, what’s wrong with that? Ask God to increase your patience because it demonstrates our love for one another and our faith in the Lord.
Be Patient (Consider the Farmer)
In verses 1-6, James rebuked the wicked who defraud others in order to enrich themselves. He told them to “weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you” (v.1). In verse 7, he encourages the righteous, who are suffering, to be patient in their trials. As we saw earlier, patience is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit that is graciously given to us. But, we must be intentional to cultivate it in our lives. James writes, “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.” As an example of patience, James tells us to consider the farmer. The farmer cannot put the seed in the ground and immediately expect a harvest. The farmer must be patient and wait for the harvest. Notice that the patient farmer is not idle. The patient farmer prepares the ground for the planting, puts the seeds in the prepared ground, adds water and fertilizer, and waits for the crop to come up. The patient farmer works and trusts. How can we continue to work while being patient? We must establish our hearts.
Establish Your Heart (The Coming of the Lord is at Hand)
In verse 8, James writes: “You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” Like the farmer, we must be patient and wait. Christians are patiently waiting for the return of Jesus Christ. He promised to return for us (John 14:3) and this is our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). While we wait, we are not idle. We seek to grow in spiritual maturity as we love God and love our neighbor (James 2:8). We do not have to remain patient forever; our patience has an end and will be rewarded when Christ returns. Our patience also has a purpose. We need to establish our hearts. In light of the struggles and persecution of this world, we need to be courageous. We must be firmly fixed, deeply rooted, and not shaken in our faith. With our hearts established in the faith, we stand firm throughout all life’s storms. As we establish our hearts we are thankful and not prone to grumble.
Do Not Grumble (The Judge is Standing at the Door)
A thankful heart reveals contentment. A content heart does not grumble or complain. Christians must cultivate contentment in our life. James writes in verse 9, “Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.” When we grumble against one another we blame one another. It reveals that we are unhappy and not content with what God has given us. Contentment reveals that Christ meets your needs and satisfies the desires of your heart. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Paul could be content in whatever situation because he had Jesus Christ. Grumbling against one another is similar to the speaking evil and judging in chapter 4 verse 11. Our criticisms and excessive fault finding demonstrates a lack of contentment and is sinful. How can we cultivate contentment? We must remember that the judge is standing at the door. James previously wrote, “So speak and act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty” (2:12). We will be judged by our lack of love and our lack of love is demonstrated in our lack of contentment. Grumbling reveals weak faith in God. True contentment rests in the fact that God is true to His word and is faithful Contentment helps us remain steadfast.
Remain Steadfast (Consider Job)
In verses 10 & 11, James writes: “As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” Of all the people to use as an example of patient suffering, James chooses Job. Job “was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1). Job had almost everything taken away from him in an instant and yet remained steadfast in his faith. Job’s faith was revealed in his words “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). How do we remain steadfast? We do so because we remember that the Lord is compassionate and merciful (v. 11). Our perseverance is a work of the Holy Spirit. He preserves us and the fruit of this is a person who remains steadfast. James writes in verse 11, “you have seen the purpose of the Lord”. You saw what the Lord was doing in the prophets’ lives. None of us knows what is going to happen tomorrow. As much as we prepare and plan, we ultimately do not know.
Let us establish our hearts as we wait for the Lord to return. We must refuse to grumble against one another and remain steadfast in the face of adversity. Let us do this in faith. Do not be afraid to ask God to increase your patience. Do so because you desire to increase in your love for one another and your faith in the Lord.