Week 4, Day 5 of Come, Lord Jesus, Come (A Love God Greatly Study) The Return Is Near
Scripture Reading: James 5:7-12(SOAP: James 5:7-8)
So be patient, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s return. Think of how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the ground and is patient for it until it receives the early and late rains. 8 You also be patient and strengthen your hearts, for the Lord’s return is near.James 5:7-8 NET
Observations – Past and Present
James spent the first six verses of this chapter speaking to unbelievers. He warned them about the judgement that was coming their way because of how they were treating the believers. Now, he speaks to the believers who were being treated harshly; he encourages them to be patient and strengthen their hearts (or to be courageous as translated in the NLT) as they wait on Jesus’ return. James wants them to remember that their reward of eternity with the Lord will be worth the wait.
I love that James doesn’t just say be patient but he guides them in their patience with an analogy of a farmer waiting for the rains to water his crops (7). He knows that their suffering will wear on them and warns of turning on one another (9). He points them to the prophets and to Job, those who had waited and suffered before them, reminding them that they had seen that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy (10-11). Then finally, and somewhat out of context with his other words of encouragement, he instructs them to make sure that they maintain trustworthy reputations so that when they speak their words and promises are trustworthy and require no oath to be sworn (12).
Application – So, What Does This Mean For Us?
As believers, if we truly are living for the Lord, we will suffer not only the normal troubles of this life but at the hands of unbelieving oppressors. Therefore, we must heed James’ warning and –
- be patient
- be courageous, standing firm despite who or what comes against us
- not turn against one another in our anger or frustration
- know and remember God’s Word and the examples of those who served and waited patiently and courageously in the midst of their suffering
- finally, but above all, live above reproach or question – so that our yes is yes and your no is no1
1We might think of saying to someone, “I swear on a stack of Bibles that I’m not lying,” or “I swear on my mother’s grave that I’ll pay you next Thursday.” Jesus forbid Christians from doing this, and James confirmed that teaching. The issue appears to be about honesty. Truthfulness should be the absolute norm for those who trust in Christ. Our simple yes or no should be completely binding since deception is never an option for us. If an oath is required to convince someone of our honesty or intent to be faithful, it suggests we may not be known for telling the truth in other circumstances.BibleRef.Com on James 5:12
Prayer – Response To God’s Word
Father, waiting isn’t easy and waiting on Your return is even more difficult! Strengthen us in our waiting – help us to be patient, as were the prophets and others, like Job, who have gone before us. And in this knowledge, may our hearts be courageous and firm in our faith as we wait on You. Let our minds be on You and the examples from Your Word rather than the chaos, confusion, and troubles that surround us. Finally Father, we live in a world where lying, manipulation, and questionable propaganda are the norm but if we are to be Your representatives we must be trusted. Help us live above reproach or question, so that people do not doubt our words. Let our yes be yes and our no be no – In Jesus’ name – Amen!
But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 1 Peter 3:14-16 NLT
Your Turn – Reflections
How can we strengthen our hearts and live courageously while we wait on Jesus’ return? Why is this important?