As 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.
I’m not what you would call a horticulturalist. If not for my wife’s love of plants and flowers, I would never have learned to enjoy the beauty of nature. I’ve even learned to identify certain varieties of flowers and have a few favorites.
One of the most amazing perennials is the peony. But it’s not the best choice for the impatient gardener. It takes two years or more until you see your first blooms. When they finally mature, they are magnificent and well worth the wait. To me, peonies are like roses on steroids. Big, fluffy, and beautiful.
Few of the great things in life are immediate. Success in any field doesn’t come over night. In fact, the principles of planting, nurturing, and waiting for the harvest can apply to life in general.
So it is with our greatest reward. Again, to better understand our focus text, we look back to the preceding verses to arrive at the writer’s meaning.
In verse 7, James says, “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming.” So the perseverance to which he refers is in the context of waiting on Christ’s return.
Then he illustrates the patience required in waiting. “See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:7-8)
If the book of James was written by James, the brother of Jesus, that would place the writing at about AD 70. Jesus’ ascended into heaven 40 days after His resurrection around 31 AD. The point I want to make here is that only about 40 years had elapsed since Jesus’ departure. The recipients of James’ letter were expecting Jesus to return in their lifetime and the delay had become an issue.
In verse 10, James calls attention to “the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” Their prophecy pointed to a promised Messiah who did not appear in their lifetime, yet they persevered. These new Christians had received what the prophets had talked about. Now, until the Lord’s return, they should be patient in waiting as were the prophets of old.
When James says, “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy,” (v11) he is reminding his readers that God understands their suffering and need for the Lord’s promised reward. Just because Jesus hasn’t come back yet doesn’t mean that Christianity isn’t real, or that God has abandoned His people.
Peter put it this way. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) God has left the door to salvation open, not wanting anyone to miss His free gift of eternal life.
I’m a fan of the old Andy Griffith Show. A few days ago, I saw an episode in which Barney returned to Mayberry for his high school reunion. He was anxious to know if his old flame, Thelma Lou, would be returning for the celebration. A last minute telegram announced she was coming, and Barney was thrilled. His excitement quickly turned to disappointment when Thelma Lou showed up with her new husband. Barney had waited too long to ask his one true love to marry him.
No one knows when the Lord will cease to offer His free gift. As for now, Jesus is waiting. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
This time of waiting for the Lord’s return shouldn’t be like the old days when the teacher left the classroom. It’s not the time for pandemonium and misbehavior. It’s a time for doing good, sharing God’s good news, and living to God’s glory. Graduation day is coming. However long it takes, heaven is worth the wait.
For more on this topic, check out this article: Make Time to Serve Jesus Christ
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.