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Patience - James Part 13

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
December 22, 2022 7:00 am

Patience - James Part 13

So What? / Lon Solomon

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Now, you will notice when we turn to James 5, James 5 rather, that there will be a section of this last chapter that I will not cover, and that's because we will cover the last section of this chapter talking about physical healing.

When we get to 1 Corinthians chapters 12, 13, and 14 and discuss from the pulpit what I suppose, for lack of a better term, is being called the charismatic gifts, in particular the gift of healing. We'll be discussing that at length, as well as the gift of tongues and some of these other gifts from the pulpit. And one of the passages that will enter into that discussion of healing fairly significantly will be this one in the end of James 5. So if you will permit me the liberty simply to postpone a discussion of this last part of this chapter until in our morning service we get to 1 Corinthians 12-14, I would appreciate that.

We will discuss the earlier part of the chapter as a part of our concluding the book this evening. James has been focusing in our study on his book on the practical side of the Christian life. In fact, in many respects, James is one of the most practically oriented books in the entire New Testament, not shying away from doctrine necessarily, but on the other hand not making doctrinal discussion its primary purpose.

Rather, the book of James really does focus on practical Christian living. We've talked about many subjects. We've talked about perseverance in trial. We've talked about not showing partiality.

We've talked about the tongue. We've talked about being doers of the Word and not just hearers. We've talked about improper motives in prayer. We've talked about being presumptuous with our Lord and impertinent and not giving Him final access on our plans and not saying if the Lord will, but just assuming things.

A lot of good practical discussion. We want to conclude this evening in James chapter five by discussing patience, by discussing patience in the Christian life. Now in chapter five, James begins in the first six verses by warning the rich that there will be a day when their riches flee away, when they're gone. Perhaps the reason for all of this is because in verse seven, James addresses those believers who are suffering and talks to them about patience. And many scholars believe that there is a connection between these two subjects, that perhaps the rich were persecuting these believers. And that maybe this is why James addressed the subject, to put believers' minds at ease with regard to the passing nature of riches.

Be that as it may, James' point is very simple, that it's easier to trust in money than in God, and yet money passes away and God doesn't. James says, Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have been corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have been corroded, and their corrosion is a witness against you, and eats your flesh like fire. You've heaped up treasure in these last days. Indeed, the wages of the laborers who have mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out against you, and the cries of these reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and in luxury.

You have fattened your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just, and the just man has not resisted you. As I say, many scholars believe that this perhaps forms the backdrop to James' discussion of patience, since perhaps these just who have been persecuted, and these workers in the field who have not been remunerated very possibly are the believers James is about to address, beginning in verse 7. So there's a very good chance that James here is not really speaking so much to believers, as he is warning those who are persecuting believers, and informing believers that these rich people, just because of their money, will not prosper. And yet there's a warning here for us who are Christians, even though we may not be doing some of these things, because at the heart of what James is saying is the fact that these people were trusting in their money instead of in God. They were seeking money as a means to power and accomplishment. And I suppose there are many things money will accomplish. There is a certain amount of power that money does bring with it, but the important thing for us to remember is that that power is temporal power, not lasting power. We need to be very careful as believers our relationship to money.

I was reading an article several years ago that the highest paid surgeon in Poland at that time, 1978, the highest surgeon in the country got $60 a week. And you know when you think about statistics like that, you come to realize that we Americans, even the most poor of us, are still rich compared to the rest of this world. So we need to take to heart James' warning, even though it may not have been addressed to us specifically, to be careful about what the Scripture calls the deceitfulness of money. It's sublime, it's subtle, ah, but it'll creep up on you. Well, he goes on from there to discuss our real subject this evening, and that's patience. And he addresses believers who obviously are being persecuted, perhaps by these very rich people he's just talked about. And he says in verse 7, Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and the latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned.

Behold, the judge is standing at the door. My brethren, take the prophets who have spoken in the name of the Lord as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed, we count them blessed who have endured. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the purpose of the Lord in it, that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

But above all, do not swear, neither by heaven, nor by earth, nor with any oath, but let your yes be yes and your no be no, lest ye fall into judgment. James commands these believers to exercise patience. Now if we're going to exercise patience, we first need to know what it is. What is patience? Allow me, if you would, the freedom of giving you what I consider to be a biblical definition of patience. You may not find this in Webster's, but that's okay.

Webster doesn't always know the definition of a word, as evidenced by the fact when you read his definitions, you, as I've said before, very often feel like you know less about that word than when you looked it up. Biblical definition of patience. Waiting calmly.

Did you catch that word? Waiting calmly until God is ready for something to take place. Waiting calmly until God is ready for something to take place. And that means waiting patiently and calmly until God's ready to give us something we want. Or waiting patiently until God is willing to take away from us something we don't want. Doesn't matter. The key word is the word waiting calmly until God is ready.

That's the secret. That's what patience is. In fact, James says, all of nature demands patience.

Verse 7. Look at the farmer, James says. The farmer, if he wants the fruit, must be patient.

He must wait for certain ingredients to come or he gets no fruit. In this case, the former rains and the latter rains. Now, I don't know if any of you are farmers.

I would doubt so around here. Maybe some of you are from farming backgrounds. But in America, we don't really have the former rains and the latter rains. That's unique to the geography of Palestine, where they would get a huge rainy season at the beginning of planting. And then another large rainy season just as the fruit was coming to maturity. And the fruit really needed both seasons to mature and ripen.

Just one wasn't enough. And if you harvested that fruit before you got the latter rain, you would not get mature fruit. So the farmer who sticks that seed in the ground has to wait. That's the way nature is.

That's the way spiritual nature is too. My wife is always after me to plant a garden. Now, I'm happy to report the house we live in is not such that I could have a garden.

And that does not disappoint me in the least. But one house we lived in was set up so that we could have a garden. So I went out. I don't know a thing about gardening. But I'm going to tell my wife that. So she said, let's plant a garden. Fine.

What do you do? Well, she said, you've got to dig up the soil and turn it over. She comes from a farming community. I said, okay. So I dug up all the soil and turned it over.

A couple weeks later, when all my blisters were better, decided to go out and work on it again, turn it up. Then you take the seeds. I read these, you know, burpee carrots.

Okay, what do you do? You take the seed, you stick it way down in the water. I read this thing, stuck those seeds down in there, covered them up. I was so faithful. I watered them and weeded them, went out there every afternoon and watered those things.

Planted them so they got nice sun, put fertilizer and compost in. And then lo and behold, out of the ground, these were carrots in particular, came this little stalk, this little green stalk all over the place, all these little carrots. I was so excited.

I thought, isn't this neat? I mean, I actually grew something. And they grew and grew and grew. Now the only problem is nobody ever told me how long it takes to grow a carrot. I didn't know how long it took. And I would go out there and you would think after all this watering and all this watering, I began thinking, well, something's bound to be happening.

I mean, I'd like to see something other than this little green thing on the top. So I went out and pulled them up to see how they were doing. I pulled this carrot up.

It's about that big. And I said, it's doing pretty good. So I shoved it back in the ground. I pulled all my carrots up to see how they were doing. Shoved them back in the ground.

I didn't tell my wife I'd done that. But I came in and said, you know, I think those carrots are doing okay. So that's good. So 30 days went by. More days went by. Finally, my wife began saying, you know, those carrots ought to be ready to pick.

Said, yeah, that's great. So we went out and picked the carrots. Now the only problem is that the carrots were still that big.

I couldn't figure that out. I mean, I'd been watering them just like I had before. I'd been weeding them. My wife said, these are the littlest carrots I ever saw.

How do you, what in the world? And she couldn't figure out what happened. Then she said, you know, something stunted these carrots' growth. So I said, when I pulled them up and looked at them about a month ago, they were doing fine. She looked at me and she said, you did what? I said, well, I mean, I just want to see how they're doing.

So I yanked them up and looked at them. She took the carrots and tossed them on the ground. And she just said, hopeless. You're hopeless. You're hopeless. You have no patience whatsoever. Well, she's right.

At least not with carrots. You see, that's a part of nature. Things take time. And even if the right things are going on, still, things take time to grow and develop and mature. That's what James is telling us. Look at the farmer.

He'll tell you. His activity will show you that there are certain things in life that simply take time and cannot be hurried. And to try to hurry them will only destroy them. So not only does nature demand patience, but there are some benefits of patience.

Look at the ones James shares with us. He says that some of the advantages of patience in verse 11 is that we count them blessed who endured. That there's blessing for the people who endure, whatever God's doing in their lives.

And that the Lord had a purpose in what he was doing, in this case with Job. And so there's purpose in being patient. There is reward in being patient. God's blessing comes to those who are patient. When we're not patient, we miss God's blessing. Now how do we exercise patience? Four little things, James suggests to us.

He doesn't actually say all of them, but they're implied. First of all, we exercise patience by being in the Scripture. We exercise patience by being in the Scripture. We exercise patience by being in the Scripture. Psalm 119 verse 92 says, If your law, talking to the Lord, had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. The psalmist said if it wasn't for the word of God, then in my difficult situation I wouldn't have made it.

I couldn't have hung in there. And this is implied I think when James says, Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. How do we know that? How do we even know that fact is true?

Well, because we know the Scripture. One of the greatest components we'll ever have for showing faith and hanging in and persevering is the word of God, the promises of the word of God. There's a second factor, and that's prayer. In Luke 18 one, we read this verse, and Jesus told his disciples a parable that they should constantly pray and not lose heart.

Now, if we turn that verse around and run it through the ringer backwards, it sounds like this. If we don't constantly pray, we will lose heart. We will cave in. We will buckle under the load. And you see, my friends, prayer is not for God's benefit.

It's for our benefit, to give us strength and fortitude to hang in when things are rough. I was reading an article in Leadership magazine just the other day. The title of the article is Ministerial Burnout. Sounds interesting, doesn't it?

I think you can understand why I thought I should read that. And this man who wrote the article, who's a psychiatrist, points to several factors that cause ministerial burnout. It was interesting to me that one of the things he said was primary was how much time that minister spends in the word of God and in prayer.

That he has found that those are two of the most significant elements in preventing ministerial burnout. Now, he also talked about vacations and hobbies and other things, but those two were primary, the word of God and prayer. And we don't repeat those to you and God doesn't repeat them to me over and over and over again.

Just because he has nothing to say or I have nothing to say, it's because even though they seem so basic, they're so essential. You can trace almost any Christian's lack of perseverance. If you dig deep enough, you can trace almost every time the beginning of those problems back to a point where they stopped regular time in the word, where they stopped regular time in prayer. It's incredible how almost without exception those two factors show up in an unstable, an unstable, forgive me, life.

Will James specifically suggest two more factors? Not only by being in the Scripture do we learn to persevere, not only by being in prayer, but by the examples who've had to do it before us. Verse 10, my brethren take the prophets as an example of patience. Verse 11, my brethren take Job.

You've heard about him, haven't you? Thank God James believed the Old Testament and that what happened to Job was real. He said, you heard about how that man persevered, didn't you? And look at what God did for them. So you're not the first person to face something like this. Think about the other people who faced it, if you need some encouragement to hang in there. Paul says the same thing in 1 Corinthians chapter 10. Verse 13, no temptation which has taken us, no temptation has taken us, but such as is common to man. Most of our problems aren't unique.

They're not even extraordinary. They're just normal problems that every human being either faces, has faced, or will face. And you know that's a help. Because if I know hundreds and thousands and hundreds of thousands of people have faced this before and made it, it encourages me.

I can too. The fourth factor that James points out, for patience, is the results, the blessings that come if we'll just hang in. He says in verse 10, my brethren take the prophets who have spoken in the name of the Lord as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed, we count them blessed who endured. We don't remember all the prophets who dropped out along the wayside. Ah, but the ones who persevered are the ones that we honor. The ones who persevered are the ones that God blessed. Men like Jeremiah and Isaiah and Elijah, whose ministries were not well received, and everybody didn't say nice things about them, and everything didn't go hunky-dory for them. In fact, Jeremiah, to the best of our knowledge, didn't have more than four or five converts in his whole ministry. Can you imagine a whole life of ministry and four or five people? And yet we honor that man and God blessed that man.

Why? Because he knew how to persevere. And take Job. You've heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the purpose of the Lord, that the Lord was compassionate and merciful. The book of Job says that Job's final end was better than his beginning. He ended up with twice as many sons and twice as many daughters and twice as many possessions.

Only one wife, I think. But everything else doubled. And Job was probably grateful that the thing that remained the same remained the same after she came out and said, why don't you just curse God and die?

One of those is enough. But everything else doubled. And his latter end was better than his former end. And so even though there was suffering and even though there was the need for perseverance, look how much better he was as a result.

Because, as the Scripture says, the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. And there was a purpose that God had. If we could keep those things in our mind that this is not happening for no reason, there's a purpose here. And the purpose is coming from a loving and merciful God, not a mean, angry God.

And he has our own best interest at heart. That will help you hang in. That will help you persevere. And that will help you persevere if you can believe what the Scripture says. Four reasons why we should persevere. The Word of God, prayer, the example of others, and the blessings that follow. As we wind down, just let me drop into your thinking a couple of ways that each of us is called upon to persevere.

I've already mentioned them in passing. And that is, first of all, when we want something and God doesn't give it to us immediately. You see, the danger is that we get impatient. Sometimes we get discouraged.

Often we try to do it on our own because we don't want to wait for it. Two of the greatest saints who ever lived made this mistake. Moses, the greatest example of right job, wrong time, wrong way.

Right job, but wrong time and wrong way. Because he was in a hurry. And maybe he had had this vision that maybe God had given him about leading the children of Israel to safety and being their champion. Ah, but he wasn't willing to wait for God to work these things out. And I suspect there was a brewing in his heart that went on that led him to go out and try it himself.

It didn't work too well. And Abraham, God promised him a son. So he waited a year, no son. So he asked God about it again and God said, I've told you you're going to have a son.

And he waited a little while. He still didn't have a son. Finally our friend Abraham decided it was time to have a son. So he took the handmaiden of Sarah, which by the way, in those days was perfectly legitimate. He didn't do anything innately sinful.

It was an accepted practice. And had a son by her. And if you'll read carefully the book of Genesis, you will find Abraham saying to God, oh, I thank you for my son, God.

And God has to say to him, oh, Abraham. Ah, you impatient fellow. No, I'm sorry. That's not the son I was talking about.

See, you insisted on taking this in your own hands. Even though Ishmael is your son, he's not the one I had in mind. Great saint of God.

Promised from God, but not enough endurance to wait for God to do it. I think of Howard Hendricks whenever I think about perseverance. I can't help but think of him. I've shared with you before, I think, that that man prayed forty-two years for his dad to come to know Christ. Now that is a long time. And I sometimes wonder why I think about perseverance.

I think of this is a long time. And I sometimes wonder, I prayed for my dad eight, and that was a long time. And I sometimes wonder, didn't he ever get discouraged? Weren't there times where he got impatient and maybe if there was something that he could have done where he would have tried it in the flesh? And yet as far as I know, that man had captured the secret of waiting for God to act.

Remember our definition. Patience. Waiting calmly for God. And God's timing to do something. Forty-two years.

And when it finally happened, Howard Hendricks himself physically had nothing to do with it. Ah, but God had it all under control. And I think God sometimes makes us wait.

To teach us to be content where we are. And sometimes God makes us wait because we're fine. But God has other people in circumstances that aren't fine yet.

So He puts us on hold until He can get them worked out. Or sometimes God makes us wait just because He feels like it. But you know the secret to a person who gets blessing is to wait and let God do it and not run out and do it yourself.

Now I'm not arguing for being lazy, shiftless, or irresponsible. Just being biblically dependent. And I'm sure every one of you sitting here this evening who knows Christ has got at least one thing. That you're wondering why God hasn't done it yet. Well, God's message to you is that I'm loving, I'm compassionate, I have a purpose, and I just want you to wait until I'm ready. And the other times we're called upon to wait are those times when we're in an unpleasant situation and we want out. And God says no.

And the danger here is not taking it in our own hands, but the danger here is folding up, caving in. This is where we need endurance and fortitude and perseverance. Job lost it all, his children, his wealth, his health. But he persevered and God rewarded him because God had something to teach him. And Paul had his thorn in the flesh that he says, I asked God three times to take away. And every time God said no. And yet Paul rejoices in that thorn in the flesh.

He says, God's blessed me with this and I thank Him for it. When I used to work for A&P, before I worked for Giant, I didn't really like my job at A&P. You know, in the years that have passed, I realized more poignantly than ever that the problem wasn't A&P, the problem was me. But when I got offered a job at Giant Food, I figured, wow, here it is, a different company, a different manager, a slightly different set of responsibilities. This is it, my free ticket out of all of this misery. And I took it. I admit somewhat unsure whether I should, but I was so unhappy with that job, I took the Giant job anyway. You know what I found out?

Some of you are smiling and shaking your head. You know what I found out. I found out at Giant I had the same problems. In fact, I'll tell you a secret, they were worse. Many a day I sat there and I thought, oh God, to be back at A&P.

They were worse. You know why I had the same problems? Because I was still me. And wherever I went, all the problems came with me. And the reason God had put me at A&P and was chipping away at me was because He had a purpose and He wanted to work on my life. And instead of being patient and wise and mature enough to understand that, all I wanted to do was get out. So I ran to Giant and God was still there working on the same things except with a bigger hammer. And I'll never forget one evening praying and the Spirit of God making it clear to me that I could go to Safeway or Pantry Pride or Jumbo Food Market and the problems would go right with me. Because God wasn't about to let up until He had worked on those areas of my life that needed work. And I'll never forget in my room getting on my knees and saying, alright Lord, let's come to grips with this now. You know I don't like this job, but I commit myself that I will stay there until you move me. I don't care how rough it gets. I will stay because I realize you have a purpose and you're not out to hurt me, that these are things I need to learn. So you give me the strength and I will stay. Those were two of the most difficult years I ever lived. But you know something?

If it weren't for those two years, I think I can say to you confidently, many of the good things that have happened in the eight or ten years since then would never have happened. Because I wouldn't have been properly prepared for what God had. You see, that's why God says, even if you don't like the situation, you stay there until I'm through with it. Because it's your friend in disguise. I'm using it to help you. You just may not have the maturity to realize that yet. And perhaps some of you here are in situations that you don't like.

Your job, your home, I don't know what else, I won't even speculate. But God says you stay there until I move you because I didn't put you there by accident. I have a purpose.

And it's a loving and a merciful purpose. I've never met a diamond, never talked to one, but I'm sure when they're chipping away at him it hurts if he could speak. He had feelings. I'm sure having that razor blade slice through that diamond, that rough diamond, would hurt.

But think of what it looks like when all the chopping is through. To show you how this works in action and to conclude, I'll share a story with you about when I was going to seminary. We had exams. I had four exams in two days.

One was Hebrew, one was Greek, two were theology, and I was swamped. And the pressure was unbelievable. I had this huge mass of material to study and I just didn't see how I could get it under control. And I got down and depressed and wanted to quit. I can still remember going in my room and getting on my knees and tears rolling down my face and saying, Oh God, you have got to get this pressure off of me! And then I sort of sensed the Holy Spirit tapping me on the shoulder, going, Hey, Lon, how would you suggest I get this pressure off of you? The only way to get it off of you is for you to call the seminary and say you drop out. Or for them to call you and say, Congratulations, Mr. Solomon, in advance of taking your exams we have thrown you out. How am I going to get this pressure off of you?

And furthermore, if you can't handle this, how in the world are you going to handle the ministry? Well, it seemed like good advice. So what I needed to do, and with God's help what I did, was I remembered the Scripture, began quoting some of the promises of God to myself. That helped a lot. Then I had prayer and I asked for God's help to face the pressure. That helped a lot more. Then I began to sit there and think, How many other people have had four exams on two days and they're still alive?

And that helped even more. And then I tried to visualize the blessing of having some patience and some perseverance and taking them and passing them. And that helped enough I got up off my knees and went back to my desk. And I can confidently report to you that I passed. I don't even remember what I made, but I passed and that was the key point. And as I look back now I find myself thinking, Oh Lord, what would have happened if I had just thrown the towel in at that point and said, I quit?

Where would I be today for you if I hadn't been able to show some perseverance? That's what God asks from us. That's what James tells us. Be patient. Wait calmly until God is ready to act.

Not you. We're always ready to act. You wait until God is ready to act. And if you need help, get into the Scripture. If you need more help, have some prayer.

If you need some more help, remember you're not the first one to ever do this. And if that doesn't help enough, remember God promises blessing and has proven it in the lives of people who just wait for Him. Perseverance. It's important in growing carrots. It's also important in growing believers. Let's have prayer. Heavenly Father, again we thank you for the practicality of your Word.

And I suppose, Lord, people who don't know you would have a tremendous tendency to think that many of these things we've talked about are too simple, too easy, too glib, too trite. Yet those of us who know Christ realize that even though these things seem very simple, the beauty of it is they work because your power takes them and energizes them and makes them work. So, Lord, we pray that you would make us people who know how to wait for you, who know how to pray, and who know how to commit things to you, and who know how to act once you give us the green flag, but who also know how to wait until you are ready to move. So as an assembly and as individuals, we ask you, Lord, to give us that patience. We thank you in advance for your blessing that we know comes as we persevere and trust you. So take these truths and change the very way we live for your own honor and glory. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-22 08:17:11 / 2022-12-22 08:30:23 / 13

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