Final Thoughts on James 5:7-12
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 latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 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 spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment. NKJV
It is obvious from the opening verses of James, chapter 6, that many of the church members were being oppressed and defrauded by the merchants and employers for whom they worked. In our text the Lord urges these believers to be patient. The dictionary defines patience as “bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, oppression, or persecution with resolve and calm, and without complaint, frustration, or anger.” Some synonyms listed in the thesaurus for patience are “calm, forgiving, tolerant, long-suffering, composed, enduring, even-tempered, forbearing, mild-tempered, persevering, self-possessed, serene, uncomplaining, and unruffled.” In our text, the Lord gives three reasons why we believers should be patient.
First, believers should be patient because the Lord Jesus Christ will return (vs. 7-8, Acts 1:11, I Thess. 4:16-17, I Cor. 15:51-54). If we endure our trials with patience, the Lord promises that we will reign with Him at His coming (II Tim. 2:10, I Pet. 4:13). Patience is an evidence of the genuineness of our saving faith (I Pet. 1:7). In v.7 of our text, the Lord uses the rain to illustrate a truth regarding Jesus’ return. We do not know when the rain is coming, but it will come. Likewise, we do not know when Jesus is coming, but He will return (Matt. 25:13, 44; Mk. 13:32-35). The phrase “at hand” in v. 8 means “imminently.” Jesus could return unexpectedly, at any moment (Lk.12:40, Phil. 4:5). In Revelation 3:11; 22:7, 20, Jesus warns us that He is coming “quickly.” The word “quickly” does not mean soon, as this was written nearly 2,000 years ago, but rather it means “suddenly” or “imminently.” Again the point is being made that Jesus could return unexpectedly, at any moment. I John 2:28 exhorts us to “abide in Him that we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” Sadly, many Christians will be embarrassed at the coming of the Lord because they will be places they ought not to be or doing things that they ought not to be doing. We need to live each moment of each day as though Jesus was coming at that moment.
Second, believers should be patient because Christ will judge our impatience (v.9). Believers will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ (as opposed to unbelievers who will stand before the great white throne judgment in Rev. 20:11-15), where they will give an accounting of their lives while on earth as Christians, and be rewarded or lose rewards in the next life accordingly (Rom. 14:10, 12; I Cor. 3:11-15, 4:5; II Cor. 5:10). In vs. 10-11 of our text, the Lord gives two examples of patience; the prophets and Job. Job waited through all kinds of terrible trials, including the loss of his material possessions, the loss of his children, the loss of his health, the accusations of his friend, and isolation from his wife, and yet he responded by saying, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21), “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15), and “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:25-26).
Third, believers should be patient and not try and force results with an oath (v. 12). People give oaths to try and convince others of their sincerity; that they will actually do what they say they will do. When people feel the need to press us for an oath, what does that say about our reputation? In Matthew 5:34-37, Jesus exhorts us not to swear at all, but to let our “Yes” be :Yes,” and our “No,” be “No.” If a person’s word is no good, neither will his oath be any good. In v.12 of our text, the Lord is calling for straight forward, honest, plain speech. To do otherwise, is to invite His judgment.
What kind of reputation do we have? Do you have a reputation for honestly and dependability? Are you patient, willing to wait on the Lord’s timing in your life? Are you ready if Jesus were to return today? Or would you be embarrassed if He were to suddenly appear?