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Monday, November 23, 2015

The Precious Produce: A James 5:7-8 Devotional

James 5:7-8 “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil being patient about it until it gets the early and late rains. You, too, be patient; strengthen your hearts for the coming of the Lord is near.”
Near the end of James’ epistle, he spoke to the Jerusalem Christians and exhorted them to be patient until Jesus Christ returns. The Christians believed Jesus’ return would be soon and wondered how long they would have to suffer trials and hard times before He returned. They were tired from withstanding famine, poverty, and oppression at the hands of the Jews and Romans.
After James taught them to remember their riches are in heaven, trials come to help grow a person, and living out one’s faith in the world, he returned to his original exhortation of chapter one verse two. This time he did not say, “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials.” He strongly encouraged the Jerusalem Christians to be patient until Jesus returns. Being patient means bearing offenses and injuries from other people while being mild and slow to anger. Patience is endurance. Endurance is one of James’ key words. He tied endurance to perseverance and that to perfection and completeness. So James did not just say be patient until Jesus comes. He meant let your patient endurance take your closer to completeness and perfection. Instead of focusing on the hard times, focus on Jesus and becoming more like Him.
God said every Christian could ask for wisdom to get through a trial. He did not leave us defenseless during trials. God offers His resources for our trials/battles. They come through the Holy Spirit for fortitude/endurance/wisdom and through external help via the Father. When going through trials, Christians are not alone that is how they can bear trials and wait patiently for the coming of the Lord.
James used a common analogy for the time of waiting. He said as the farmer waits for the early and late rains to produce a harvest, so Christians are to wait with anticipation for Jesus Christ’s return and their completeness and perfection in Him. The early and late rains come from God. He is the one who produces the harvest. The farmer waits patiently on God to provide those rains and the harvest. Christians are the farmers in this analogy. They work by planting the seed and keeping the weeds out. That is the Christian learning and growing by studying and staying in God’s Word so the world and secular opinions do not choke God’s Word and teachings from our hearts and minds. For James it also includes living our faith out in the world with actions and words – doing and hearing. God will water throughout the year if we are ready for Him to bring the harvest – if we are standing firm in Him and growing to completion and perfection in Christ. God will bring the harvest in our lives. Jesus Christ will return. The harvest is at the return of Jesus Christ. In this analogy, Christians are the farmers as well as God.
Because this is so important to James and for fellow Christians to hear, he repeated it in verse eight. “You, too, be patient; strengthen your hearts for the coming of the Lord is near.” James did not command his hearers to be patient. He meant be patient just as he must be patient. He walked with them in their struggles. James was not in an ivory tower seeing the Jerusalem Christians’ suffering. He was there with them going through it, too.
James commanded them to “strengthen their hearts.” This means stand fast, be constant, and confirm your commitment to Jesus Christ because He is returning. Your trials will not make Him stay away. Jesus comes when His Father tells Him. We do not know when that will be, but we know it will happen. So keep staying in the Word and working out your faith in your daily life. Because you are a child of God, your riches are in heaven; no one on earth can steal them away from you. God is with you and will get you through your trials if you ask for His wisdom and believe. And remember, the trials will grow endurance and perfection in you.
Does this make it easier for us to go through hard times knowing God is there to help and you are growing more like Christ with each trial? Do you want to be more perfect and complete as Jesus is perfect and complete? After James taught his epistle, I am sure some people might have said, “I want to be more like Jesus; bring on the trials.” Can other people see we are Christians by our walk during easy and hard times? We need to consider what James taught the Jerusalem Christians and take it to heart. God loves you, gives you riches in heaven, and provides what you need to go through each day.
Ask for His wisdom.
Stand firm with endurance.
Be patient in trials.
Become more complete and perfect.

Live your life in faith, speaking and doing the Word of God.