Title: GETTING A GRIP ON THE ILLUSIVE QUALITY OF PATIENCE
Text: James 5:7-12
Just when you think you’ve got it, you lose it. Patience is as slippery as a screwdriver dipped in STP. It may be illusive, but patience is needed every day of our life. Because things frequently happen out of our control that draw on the bank of patience, and if there are no reserves you will find yourself in debt to lots of people.
Think of the need for patience. Where would a mother of a non-stop question-asking two-year-old be if she did not have patience? Or the parent of teenager spreading their wings of independence? Or a wife whose husband wants to move the family across the country? Or a husband whose wife has not had her injection of chocolate for the week? Police officers, schoolteachers, government workers, nurses, waitresses, managers, people that work with the public, and even preachers need patience. If there were no such thing as patience, there would be enough fallout from the mushroom clouds of hot tempers to bury us before we even reached 21 years of age.
Patience is so critical that if we don’t have it when we need it, our nerves get frayed and we can slip into a rage, a depression, or lose it altogether and have an emotional breakdown. Without an ample supply of patience, we become like a penned up elephant, wagging his trunk back and forth and banging his head against the cold steel walls of life. I need patience. You need patience. But I can’t give you any of my patience, even if I had extra. Patience has to come from within…not without!
When James thought of patience, his mind scanned history and three things came to mind: God, Job and the farmer. What monuments to patience! Let’s explore them. Read text.
1. Does verse 7 & 8 give you an indication what the early church believed concerning the Second Coming of the Lord? (They thought they would get to see it with their own eyes.)
2. How long has God been waiting to send His Son back? Eph. 1:3-6 How do you measure the patience of Him who spans eternity past and future?
3. What kind of patience is it that creates a being, knowing he’s going to mess things up and need a Savior, and that Savior is your only Son?
4. How do you mix believing that Jesus could come back at any moment, and patiently waiting for it?
Insight: The Greek word for “longing” was a military term that first meant “stretching of the neck.” It was derived from the soldier on the third watch of the night, but before daylight dawns. He is standing at his post, hearing all the night sounds, trying to look into the dark, but ensuring the safety of his comrades that are sleeping. So in anticipation of the dawn, he stretches his neck looking to the east for any help that the dawn might give him. We, too, must remain at our post, but stretch our neck to the horizon as we anticipate the return of our Lord at any moment!
5. What happens to the farmer if there is no early rain? (The seed will not germinate.)
6. What happens to the farmer if there is no late rain? (The seed will not mature.)
7. What is the object of the farmer’s patience? (God, or some would say mother nature…neither which he can control, but must rely upon to do his work.)
8. The farmer plants in faith. What does the Christian likewise do in faith? (Live daily with the expectation that Jesus will come to take us home.)
9. When you think of the Second Coming, what do you think of? (Enormous joy, end to trouble, resurrection of the dead, bringing submission of the world to God, worship God face-to-face, getting to see God’s glory, exposing man’s deeds and the injustices, final judgement, separation of the righteous and the wicked, eternal life and eternal death…a sudden coming that no man knows of the day nor the hour.)
10. What are the Christian’s duties while we wait for His coming? (Worship God, witness, teach what Jesus taught, make disciples, be on the watch for His coming, do not despair in His delay to return, prepare for the coming of the King, be found busy doing His work when He comes, abide in Christ.)
11. James mentions what will happen if we complain against one another in the middle of our patient waiting for His coming. What is it? (We will be judged.) Did you ever think complaining was such a serious matter to God? Why do you think God is so strong on this issue? (He has planned out the perfect timing of His Son’s return since He made the world. He has been patient with our feeble attempts to live righteously. The least we can do is live without complaining to one another.) Do you have any practical suggestions about keeping from complaining to one another?
12. In what sense is the Judge right at the door? (We could die at any moment and then our destiny is forever sealed and we will face Him immediately.)
13. In verse 10 James refers to the patience of the prophets. What do you think he meant? (Anyone who has worked with people trying to get them to change their lifestyle, to own up to and repent of things done wrong, and stand for purity if the middle of a cesspool, knows what patience is required to be God’s representative.)
14. Why is Job a good example of patience in the midst of suffering? How long did it take for God to restore his life from the things taken from him? Job 42:10-17
15. There was a time when Job was anything but patient. Like when he resented what came upon him; he questioned the arguments of his friends; and he agonized over thoughts that God had forsaken him. What one thing is certain about Job in his experience that is a good example for us that James would use him to illustrate patience? (He never lost his faith in God through it all.) Job 13:15; 19:25
16. Is faith greater if it questions things and still believes?
17. In light of the context of patience, what is the meaning of verse 12? (While having to exercise patience towards others, keep your word…don’t vacillate back and forth or not keep your word. A Christian’s word should be taken at face value.)
How would those around you rate you concerning your patience? Would that rating change if your family was asked?
How has the thought of Jesus’ Second Coming affected your daily walk? How should it?