“You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door.”
James 5: 8-9
James 5: 7-12
“If only I’d known!” “Hindsight is a wonderful thing.” How many times have we used expressions like this when we have rued certain actions and contemplated how we would have acted differently if we had known the end from the beginning? In this short passage James identifies a perspective that can alter our lives and behaviour; it could have been written to us considering our current context. He is reminding us that we do know how things will end, Jesus Christ is returning (vs. 7, 8 & 9). His return will be wonderful, amazing and awe inspiring; it will also be frightening. The whole world will see Him, there will be new heavens and earth and for those who belong to the Lord eternity continues. There will also be accountability, judgement and no more chances of reconciliation (Revelation 21: 1-8, Matthew 25: 31-46). These are truths we contemplate and celebrate at Advent, truths that should impact our lives in the present.
There is a call for patience with a practical illustration (vs. 7-8). In the locality where James was writing there would be two main periods of rain, the fall rains after the crops were planted and the spring rains before the harvest, both were essential. At Advent we celebrate Christ coming to us and paving the way for new life now, we become the firstfruits of the Church (2 Thessalonians 2: 13). We know He will come again for the spiritual harvest (Matthew 9: 35-38). The farmer tends the crop, which is valuable, but knows that patience is needed for the miracle of growth in between the rains. In this now and not yet of the Kingdom of God we know that we are valuable to Him but need to have patience while we wait and as His work is done (Mark 4: 26-29). The Lord’s incarnation, second coming and salvific work are thus likened to the falls of rain and harvest.
In this time, when there will be suffering, alongside patience we are to watch our words. Grumbling against our fellow believers is simply not right. It may be understandable due to pressure, stress and differences but the Lord watches, hears and will hold us accountable (vs. 9). We can find encouragement in the example of prophets and figures of faith who faced similar difficulties but persevered. It is a common fault for each generation to think they know better or have experienced worse than previous generations. We are therefore encouraged to consider previous saints and persevere (vs. 10-11). Finally we are again challenged to guard our tongues. The capacity of the tongue to spoil everything is huge (covered in earlier blogs); as we wait with patience we are to speak with patience (vs. 12). The Lord is full of mercy and compassion (vs. 11); may we reflect His love.
To Ponder: Do you have hindsight or foresight in life? How might knowing the truth of the Lord’s return impact your life, conversations and relationships today?
Pray: God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, bring us to the dwelling your Son is preparing for all who love you; give us the will each day to live in life eternal; let our citizenship be in heaven with the blessed, with the whole company of the redeemed and with countless angels, praising, worshipping and adoring your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ who sits upon the throne forever and ever. Amen
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.