Having described the evil world led by unbelieving rich people, James at last provides an illustration of powerful behavior that achieves perfect unity with God:
“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains” (Jam 5:7).
For those of us living in the arid Southwest United States, we would love to have early and late rains be assured year after year. But here these rains are fickle and unpredictable. This year 2021, however, during one of the most trying times any of us can remember, the rains came early and often, along with major Spring snow storms. The result has been the most amazing, productive harvest in memory, at least as measured in my “berry patch” out back, which includes peaches, apples, blackberries and raspberries. This bounty came after two years of drought that decimated the berry patch.
James says, “Be patient,” throughout life, while waiting patiently for the return of Jesus. He continues:
“You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door” (Jam 5:8-9).
Since James was writing hundreds of years ago, was he wrong about the timing of Jesus’ return? No, he was just applying his advice for all generations. At the age of 73, I believe the Judge is indeed standing at the door, and I love that thought. Either he comes before I finish this sentence, or perhaps he waits until I am 96 like my father was when he went home, or he comes 10,000 years from now. James is saying to be patient, endure hardship, and treat each other with love – regardless of the timing.
“As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (Jam 5:10-11).
Steadfast patience in faith has no expiration date. Neither does the Lord’s compassion and mercy for sinners like me.
“But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth, or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation” (Jam 5:12).
Patience and steadfastness equal reliable obedience under God in all things. Could there ever be a more appropriate summary of perfect unity with Christ?