James 5:7-12 The Other Side of Trouble
James has just warned the rich who were taking advantage of the less fortunate.
He told them to “weep and wail” because of the misery that would be coming upon them.
Judgment would come, not because they were rich, but because they used their power to exploit the poor.
They had in fact gained their wealth by taking advantage of other people.
A terrible injustice was taking place and God was once again sticking up for the underdog.
I don’t know about you but when I see someone using their power as leverage, I get fumed.
And certainly, those who were being victimized must have been angry too.
So what is a person to do? How are believers supposed to deal with such injustice?
*James 5:7 “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming.”
This was James’ counsel at the beginning of his letter and now we see it toward the close.
You see, living by the Spirit demands some very strict discipline.
Walking in the Light requires a higher standard for believers in Jesus Christ.
In light of all this persecution James writes, “be patient”.
The Greek word for “patience” is a compound word.
“Macro” meaning “long” and “thumos” which means “heat”.
So it literally means that we should take a long time to get hot!
But then he adds something interesting. He says to do it until the Lord’s coming.
* We often touch on the subject of eschatology (the end times).
There are many passages that refer to the day of our Lord’s second coming.
But at the same time there are many other references to God’s judgment upon this earth.
When we read phrases like “Be patient, until the Lord’s coming”, “the Lord’s coming is near” and “The Judge is standing at the door” we can’t help but wonder why a writer inspired by the Holy Spirit would write such things 2000 years ago.
* These apocalyptic type idioms often times refer to more than just the end of time.
It could be judgment that the Lord will bring on our adversary.
After all, he did tell those who were taking advantage of the less fortunate to “weep and wail”.
It could be judgment that takes place when we die; He could be talking about the destruction of Jerusalem that will take place not too many years after the writing of this letter and it could even be about the Lord’s second coming.
Whatever James is referring to, one thing is for sure, there is a sense of urgency to it.
Whenever trouble comes our way, we have options.
We can sit on our hands and literally wait on God, expecting Him to take care of it.
We can give up altogether and lose faith.
Or we can patiently yet persistently work toward a solution as we trust in God.
Luke 18:1-8 “Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.
And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea,
'Grant me justice against my adversary.'
"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!'"
And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says.
And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?
I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.
However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"
Persistence is a vital factor for success.
* James uses three illustrations of patience in his message.
The first one is that of a farmer.
Palestinian farmers depended upon the rain to water their crops. They would have to wait on the right time of year to prepare the soil, the right time to plant; they would wait on the early and latter rains to water their crops; and they would patiently wait for the crop to mature for harvest. It takes a lot of patience to be a farmer.
The second is that of the prophets.
It was not a glorious job to be a prophet of God.
They were appointed by God and spoke to their contemporaries on His behalf.
The message was not always pleasing; and the people did not always accept it!
The listeners would sometimes get so mad that they would kill the messenger.
Yet the prophets patiently endured the suffering that came with the job.
The third illustration that James uses is that of Job.
The next time you feel sorry for yourself I highly recommend that you read the book of Job.
Read Job Chapter 1
AS WE PRACTICE PATIENCE DURING TIMES OF TROUBLE THERE ARE A FEW THINGS THAT WE SHOULD NOT DO.
WE SHOULD NOT TAKE IT OUT ON THE ONE’S WE LOVE!
James 5:9 “Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged.
The Judge is standing at the door!”
One of the first things that happens when troubles come is we get stressed.
And when we are stressed it is easy to take our troubles out on the people closest to us.
James wants us to be careful about that.
The people we love are not the problem and they are not the enemy.
They are the ones who support us in times of trouble.
WE SHOULD NOT TAKE REVENGE!
As mentioned earlier, when I see injustice I sometimes want to retaliate.
I want to get back at them. I want them to pay for their arrogance and abuse.
But the word of the Lord says,
“Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written:
"It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." (Make him feel guilty)
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
You see, when we chose to take revenge, we fall into a trap.
A trap that Satan has set and is depending on.
But it will only work if we lose self-control.
When we take revenge we lower ourselves to the level of those who take advantage of others.
It takes a stronger person to endure a wrong than it does to get revenge.
* WE DEFINITELY SHOULD NOT BLAME GOD!
A few weeks ago we learned from James that God “allows” our faith to be tested.
James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
When trials come it is easy to write them off as injustice.
Another unfair event that has taken place in our lives.
Or another wrong that we have to deal with through no fault of our own.
* I have a suggestion. Instead of looking at trials as a negative set of circumstances, would it be possible to see them as opportunities of growth?
After all, James did write, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial”.
I know that some of you may be thinking that you’ve been blessed enough and are ready for the opportunities to cease.
But I want to encourage you to be patient, to press on, to continue working toward a solution with God in the plan and to never give up.
I also want to encourage you to not blame God when things aren’t going the way you want.
* I don’t know what you are going through, but God does.
I expect that everyone has some kind of problem, some burden to bear, or some thorn in the flesh to endure.
But I have good news!
Those who trust in the Lord come out on the other side of trouble in better shape than when it began.
* You remember all the trouble that Job went through? Listen to THE END OF THE STORY…
“After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.
All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.
The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first.
He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. (All these assets were doubled; 1:3)
And he also had seven sons and three daughters.
(The same number of children that he had in the beginning; 1:2)
The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch.
Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. (Which was unusual)
After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so he died, old and full of years.”
* Job lost all his children and all his assets in one day; yet he still did not charge God with wrongdoing.
Job was afflicted with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head yet when his wife said to him, "Curse God and die!"
He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman.
Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (Job 2:9-10)
Three of Job’s so-called friends came to visit him and informed him that all his trouble was the result of his sins; but he said,
Job 27:5-6 “I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity.
I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.”
Job endured the troubles of life and maintained his trust in the Lord.
As a result, he was one of the most blessed men on earth.
When there is no good reason for a loved one to be taken from this earth; trust in God.
When everything you worked for your whole life disappears; trust in God.
When your health deteriorates and your body is full of disease; trust in God.
When your friends falsely accuse you; trust in God.
When your family tells you to give up; trust in God.
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
For those who trust in the Lord, there will be blessings on the other side of trouble.