24 June 2018
Text: James 5:7-12
Theme: Planted to persevere
Scripture Reading (NIV Translation) – James 5:7-12
7Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 10Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. 12Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.
Service of the Word:
Planted to persevere. This is the message that we find in James 5:7-12. A message that is not rooted in who we are and what we must know, but a message that calls us up to be more than what we sometimes think we are. For you see we are people who sometimes think of tomorrow as just another day. Who think that if we don’t get to doing what we were called to do today, we can always do it tomorrow or next week. We are so sure of our own lives that we forget who really is in control of our lives. Who really helps us to persevere when times get rough.
Verse 7 says “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming.” And it is so easy for us to think that this “until the Lord’s coming” means that we have a lot of time to still do what God want and calls us to do. We have a lot of time to tell that person in our class about God’s working in our lives. We have a lot of time to ask our colleague at work to stop using the Lords name when they try to emphasize something. We have a lot of time to tell our husbands or wives or the people that we love that we are sorry for what we have done or for what they did to us. We think, when James speaks of the Lord’s coming, that we still have a lot of time to ask God to forgive us and help us to live a life that is according to His will and not our own.
And then verse 7 goes further and says “See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.” And through it James comes to show us exactly who we are to God. He comes and shows us just how valuable we are to God. When we think of a farmer, we think of someone who is dependent on that which comes up from his or her land. Someone who is dependent on a good crop so that they can survive and keep on doing what they do year in and year out. And in the same way as a good crop is so valuable to a farmer, we are also valuable to the Lord. In John 15 we read that God is the farmer who cares for his people. Who trims those from his crop that infect His kingdom.
And in the same way he allows His Spirit to dwell in us. He allows His Spirit to work through us because we matter to Him. We are valuable to Him and he does not want us to fail in our cause on earth, but He wants us to persevere. He asks us to also wait on his will for our lives. To trust in His time and not our own time, just as the farmer waits for the autumn and the spring rains. We must be patient so that we can persevere and be brothers and sisters who follow God’s will and not our own.
But it is easier and easier in the time that we live to be impatient. To get angry when a person doesn’t use their indicator when turning. To show someone the finger when they are standing in your way when you are in a hurry. To tell someone that you hate them when they did something to upset you. Maybe it is your parents or you husband or your wife. We get so caught up in the lose things of this life. We allow it to contaminate our being and we are unable to stand firm. Unable to love and to be loved. Unable to rather ask God to help us because we think we are able to help ourselves.
We are impatient when things do not happen the way we planned it and, in the end, we are unable to stand firm because we fill our lives, our hearts and our thoughts with the kingdom of God, but it is far away in the back of our minds. But verse 8 says “You too, be patient, and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” The fullness of His kingdom is closer than we think. It is not something that is far in the future for which we can still prepare, but James tells us that we must be ready today. That God’s kingdom is near and that we must stop allowing our Spirits to be infected by the things that God has come to make obsolete through His divine will in our lives. We must stand firm so that we can be people who persevere, planted in who God is.
Verse 9 says “Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!” When we complain because of our boss who is treating us unfairly behind his or her back. When we talk badly about our friends or family behind each other’s backs. When we choose to stay angry at the people we love when they disappoint us and don’t say a word about it to them, only to others – we are just as good as people who judge. When we judge others in this way we cannot persevere, because we try to play God while we are all sinners. God is the only one who may judge us. He is the only one who may judge us, but yet He chooses to love us. To make us part of His kingdom, standing at the door teaching us through His Word and Spirit to be people who persevere despite the challenges we face in our lives, for He enables us to do so.
God wants to tell you tonight that you are not alone in your times of need. There where you lost your job because of difficult economic circumstances. There where you argue with the people that you love because of money issues. There where you lost someone in your life because of death that exists in this world. God understands your frustration. He understands your needs and what you are going through in your heart and mind. He comes and shows us through James 5:10 that He understands what we are going through when James says “Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.”
We so easily think that we are the only ones who have ever had to endure the pain and the trauma of this life. That our oppression, our wars and our struggles in this life is the worst that there ever was or ever could be. How is it possible to persevere in the midst of these things? But James comes and reminds us of the prophets who suffered because of what they believed and who they believed in. That there are people who suffered before us, people like us with emotions, with scars, with a lot of baggage. And in spite off all their suffering and uncertainty about the future, they were sure of one thing… They were able to persevere because God was with them. Because God gave them the strength through His Spirit to be patient with each other, and also with God in the midst of uncertainty and waiting on His answer.
And in the same way James 5:7-12 tells us that we can persevere because these prophets were able to persevere in times where their faith was tested. Job is singled out in this passage, for he lost everything. He lost all that he had and still chose to trust in the Lord’s providence in his life. To trust in the Lord’s teachings of being patient, of standing firm, of not grumbling, and of not swearing. In the end he knew that if He trusts in God, everything around him can turn into ashes, because God is the one who picks us up from the ashes and blesses us even more through it.
Verse 11 says at the start “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered.” Because through it we learn to trust, not in our own abilities or capabilities, but to trust in God and in his providence for our lives. For He is the one who gave us all we need and so much more through His Son. He is the one who gave us life never ending through His great love, and He wants us to remember this, for when we forget this we also forget what it took to mend the relationship between us and God. We forget what it means to be in a living relationship with God seeking his presence, and His will in our lives each and every day.
We are so blessed when we are able to endure the challenges of this life, the pain and the grief of this life, for through it God works with us. He brings us to a point where we cannot handle this life by ourselves anymore so that we can give our baggage to Him, so that He can help us carry it. So that we are able to persevere and be like Job, and in the end receive so much more than we could ever wish for from God.
For so many times we feel that we try our best to do the right thing. That we try our best not to curse when we want to emphasize a story. That we try our best not to get angry at the person at the robot who has not seen that the light has turned green. That we try our best not to fight when we don’t agree with someone’s opinion, but rather try to understand their viewpoint. We feel like we try, but it doesn’t make a difference. That we try but nothing changes. But it is exactly there where we make the mistake. For perseverance has nothing to do with us, but it has everything to do with God.
When we try our best to do God’s will, to be patient, to stand firm, to not grumble and to not swear, and we feel that it makes no difference, think again. We want to see changes happen because of the things we do – let’s be honest. We want things to change for the better when we do the right thing. But we forget that we cannot bring change, only God can. We are only instruments in making His will known to others. And just as God is the one who comes and waters the seed that we have planted in the hearts of those around us through our perseverance, so to we are only able to persevere because of God’s working in our lives. For the end of verse 11 says “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” and through it we are able to persevere despite our circumstances and challenges in this life.
And then, because we are dependent on God to be people who persevere in this live. Because we are people who sin and lie and anger quickly without the Lord in our lives, James comes in verse 12 and asks that we must not swear, “not by heaven or by earth or by anything else.” For when we make promises, it is very easy to break our promises. To “change the game” so that we can be better of by it. And, to keep ourselves from being tempted to break our promises, we must rather be sure that our “Yes” is yes and our “No” is no. That when we say yes for God’s will and no for our own will, we are able to persevere. For the Lord there is no grey area, only perseverance or condemnation.
May James 5:7-12 be a hope to us all to not just life lives of “getting by”, but to live lives that are waiting on the Lord’s coming. That are dedicated to being patient, standing firm, not grumbling and not swearing. May we do this and know that in doing this we are able to persevere because of the mercy and compassion that the Lord has shown, and still shows to us each and every day. May we be planted, not to just be blown away by the wind. But may we be planted to persevere despite the challenges of this life. (Verse 8) – “You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” Amen.