Waiting with Patience

James 5:1 - 11
 

1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! 

2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. 

3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. 

4 Indeed the wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 

5 You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.

6 You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you. 

7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. 

8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! 

10My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 

11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord--that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. 

 

In the previous chapter 4: 11 – 16, James tells us how God is in complete control, He is sovereign, we cannot add one minute to our own lives. Everything that happens in the world and in our individual lives is in God’s control.
The worldview of the preceding paragraph was that God rules over time and requires our obedience to his will in all use of it. The same worldview is extended now to encompass material wealth:
God rules over wealth and requires our obedience to his will in all use of it

There are many scriptures that teach that this is true.
 

Isaiah 45:7 ‘I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.’
1 Samuel 2:7  The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.
Psalm 24:1  The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
Ecclesiastes 5:19 Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.


It is God who gives wealth and it is God who sets people up and it is God that brings them down.
 

Daniel 2:21,22 “He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him.” 
 

What this passage of scripture is about, is patience whilst waiting for His coming and judgement.

Jesus understood the curse of sin.  He knew that evil things happen to innocent people, and He made it clear that those who cause others harm will be repaid:  


Proverbs 28:22  The stingy are eager to get rich and are unaware that poverty awaits them.
Proverbs 28:27  Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
Luke 17:1,2 “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.  It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”


However, it is not up to us to seek vengeance, God has got it all in hand.

Romans 12:19 “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.” 

We very often consider ourselves to be owners of all that we are and have, when in fact we are only stewards or tenants of what God has allowed.
 

This passage of scripture is divided into two parts.

VV 1 -6, God, through James, is declaring against the rich and vv 7 – 11, He addresses the brethren.
It appears from the way he speaks concerning “the rich” (Greek - hoi plousioi) meaning those who abound in wealth, that he is not preaching to them but declaring condemnation of them.
In contrast to “the brethren” who he is exhorting.

 

It is quite obvious what the climate was like for the brethren at this time. It was a time of persecution.
The brethren that were in receipt of this letter are suffering many trials, including economic hardship from persecution by the rich as we read in verse 6. 
6 You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you. 

Because of these sufferings, Christians would be easily tempted to become discouraged, resentful, vengeful, jealous and covetous, and so to become just as thoroughly corrupted by materialism as are their rich oppressors.

Very often we hear in our day, statements such as, “if you can’t beat them, join them”. “If they can do it, so can I”.
We see the bad guy prosper and the good guy suffers.

So James here, was declaring the position that these rich people were in.
Whilst they think they are rich and that everything is fine in the garden, don’t you think that they will get away with it. God is well aware of the situation and God will not be mocked.
Whatever you sow, you will reap.


1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! 
 

We must realise though, that wealth and riches is not wrong in itself. It is the misuse of it and the attitude of those who have it.
Money is not the problem. Often we hear the scripture misquoted when it is said, “money is the root of all evil”.
The scripture actually says, “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil”.


1 Timothy 6:10  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

 

So in our passage of scripture, (James 5: 1 – 11) there are two lessons here for believers.

Lesson 1 is encouragement from the fact that judgment will come to the rich, so we can relax in the fact that evildoers do not escape the judgement of God but that they will receive recompense for their actions.
We don’t need to envy the rich or become like them.

 

Lesson 2 is a warning and the warning is that judgement will come upon all such sin and that we should be careful not to fall into the trap of becoming like them. Neither are we to become bitter or vengeful and certainly not take our sufferings out on our brethren, our families and friends.
 

1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! 

2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. 

3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. 

 

Encouragement.

V1. In the day of Judgement, riches will mean nothing. Riches cannot buy out of this, they are a temporal thing.

In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus taught this in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.
19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 
20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 
21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 
22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 
23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 
25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 
26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

 

Riches at this time will be worth nothing. Judgement will not be based on how rich you are or what your status is.
 

2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. 
 

No matter what the riches are, good food, expensive clothes, or wealth in money or gold.
The food will be corrupted (rotten). Expensive clothes will be moth eaten and silver and gold corroded.
Each of these becomes worthless.
The results of this kind of living and behaviour will reap its reward.

Storing up treasures on earth and not storing up treasure in heaven.


Matt 16:19, 20: Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

Not only have the rich gorged themselves in pleasure but they have used their riches and power to persecute the poor. They have used their power to rob, defraud and suppress the poor.
 

4 Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 

Saboath here is not the same as the Lord of the Sabbath but (Lord of the armies of heaven)(Hosts).
 

5 You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.

6 You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you. 
 

Very often, it is those who are poor and without power in this world that have little recourse to justice. But their cries are heard by God, who guarantees, ultimately, to right every wrong and answer every injustice.

Vengeance is mine says the Lord, I will repay.

 

Deuteronomy 32:35  Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; Their foot shall slip in due time;
For the day of their calamity is at hand, And the things to come hasten upon them.’

 

It is the due time that can easily cause Christians problems. To wait for God to meet out vengeance takes patience.
So, what must we do whilst we wait for God to exercise justice.

Warning.


7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. 


James uses the analogy of the farmer who plants and then waits patiently for the harvest.
He cannot rush it, he just has to wait. Even though he does not see immediate results, he knows that eventually the fruit of his labour will be revealed.
Impatience will not bring it faster, in the meanwhile he endures, continuing his work tending the crop, even when he can see no results and the harvest seems far off.

 

8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
 

We have to be patient, be rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ, knowing that it is only a matter of time before the coming of Christ.

In the meanwhile,

9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! 
Don’t become like them. Sometimes struggle and hardship can make us impatient with our brother, our spouse, our children and friends.
Financial hardship can cause havoc in relationships.
We must heed the warning of James, avoid grumbling, avoid judging the royal law of loving God and our neighbour. This we saw in the last passage of
James chapter 4: 11 – 16.

 

Jas 4:11  Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. 

Jas 4:12  There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? 

 

9b Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! 
 

Christ is coming again to judge the quick (Christian) and the dead (the unbeliever)
 

2 Corinthians 5:10 

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has 

done, whether good or bad.

So, knowing this, we cannot afford to be unloving towards the brethren.

10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 

11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord--that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. 


James points us to examples of patient endurance in the prophets and reminds us of the perseverance of Job.
Job, who God allowed to be tried by Satan, losing his family, his wealth and his health, yet stayed faithful to God.


Job 42:10 And the Lord restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 

11b. that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. 

 

Like Job, we must try to stand firm in what we know to be true. To cultivate joy in our trials whilst we wait for the appearing of our saviour Jesus Christ.

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