On Sunday, we conclude our series on the book of James. It has been a quick series on a profound book of the bible. We could have easily carried this series out over several months. However, as Advent approaches, we need to turn our attention to this special season in the life of the church.
As we consider James 5, we find a common theme running through the chapter. James calls his readers to patience. He reminds them that God is in control and will one day bring justice to the inequity of the world around them. Certainly, the early church was suffering persecution and maltreatment. James calls the oppressors to consider the ramifications of their tyranny.
(James 5:1 ESV) “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.”
At the same time, James turns to the downtrodden. He reminds them that God is in control and will one day make all things right. He likens their position to that of a farmer. The farmer must exhibit patience once the seeds are sown.
(James 5:8 ESV) “You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
James encourages early Christians to do two things. First of all, they are challenged to be patient. Patience is not an easy virtue. It is difficult for most of us because there is little to do. We must wait on God to act. But James does not leave us in our waiting; he prods us to action. He tells us to establish our hearts. The Greek word that is translated establish in the ESV is sterizo. The NIV translate it as stand firm. The Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the New Testament defines the word as,
to turn resolutely in a certain direction.
James instructs us to wait on God, but he also urges us to get our hearts pointed toward God. Being patient is difficult; we may conclude that it is impossible in some situations. But if we can turn our hearts toward God, we will be ready for Him when we decides to act. There is a balance in this text of sitting back (waiting) and moving forward (establishing our hearts). Like the farmer, we too must do our part. The farmer must till the soil and plant the seed. He would be bankrupt if he did not do the required work of farming. At the same time, the farmer must depend on God to do what he cannot do. If God does not send the rain, the crops will fail.
As we experience injustices and trials, we too must maintain a healthy balance of waiting and doing. We must rely on God to show up and act. We must also be active in pointing our hearts toward God. Only then will we be ready for Him.
Join us on Sunday as we explore James 5. May we learn what it means to depend on God. May we learn how to bring our concerns before him and trust him with our problems.