Daily Reflection #299
7 Be 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. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
Now James touches a topic which is very close to my heart! Those who know me will know that I’m not a very patient person! Then there’s grumbling….!! Oh dear, how can I possibly attempt to share something sensible about this passage when I’m so awful at trying to do what it is teaching us?!?
Christians need to be patient. James uses the metaphor of farmers waiting to harvest the crop. Note the importance on relying on God to give the growth – there is absolutely nothing any of us can do to make the crop grow, we are relying completely on God to give growth in line with his perfect timing. Notice that the waiting is worth it, as the crop is valuable. In Israel farmers are dependent on the autumn rains and the spring rains for the crop to grow and the harvest to be possible. James amplifies on the metaphor and applies it to us as we are called to be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
Some of us may be thinking that James’ sense of timing may be a bit out. 2,000 years on and we are still waiting for the Lord to return! Yet we need to recall that our lives are a brief interlude in the salvation history which the Lord inaugurated through his incarnation, death and resurrection. Our definition of ripe old age is rather limited at say 80 years or perhaps a bit more. After this we all go to give an account of our stewardship. Our opportunity to get to know the Lord and to serve him are limited in time. Clearly we need to stand firm and make the best use of the time we have.
In this limited time, it is very tempting to grumble. After all, don’t our sinful and proud hearts always whisper to us how good we are at everything and how limited our fellow brothers and sisters are? How tempting, therefore for us to give in and listen to those whispers, and end up grumbling against others!
The consequences of this grumbling are serious. If we grumble against others we bring down on ourselves judgement from the Lord. The Lord is clear that any hypocrisy will be quickly bring judgement against the hypocrite and that is very often me!
So what is to be done? How can any of us ever reign in our impatience and cut off the grumbling which seems to be so close at hand? Clearly, we need the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Let me suggest that James has already offered us the answer, if only we will pause and get the right perspective:
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
Let us first of all reject the wisdom of this world which springs from bitter envy and selfish ambition which both lurk in our old selves, a throw back to what we were before the Lord Jesus rescued us and bought us with his blood.
As we look to Jesus, claim the presence and guidance of his promised Holy Spirit and seek to live with a proper perspective on the world and its practices, we will gain that heavenly wisdom which will enable us to be pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, etc. In our own strength, following earthly wisdom, we are bound to fail. Instead let us claim the supernatural intervention which the Lord promised, so that we can truly live in ways which honour and please him.
You know us inside out, you perceive and know our every thought and attitude.
We are sorry that we often live and think in ways which reflect worldly ways, rather than following and embracing the heavenly wisdom which we should be pursuing at all times.
Guide and strengthen us through your Holy Spirit, we pray, to be patient, to look forward eagerly to your coming and to avoid grumbling and the consequences which this brings.
Change our hearts we pray, so that we will be conformed more and more into your likeness and become the people you have called us to be.
Tomorrow’s passage: James 5:10-12