Hello Summit family!
As he come to the end of his letter, James returned to one of the primary topics he has approached several times, the “trials” that come from being wealthy. Verses one through six specifically addressed the issue there were wealthy members of the “family” oppressing the less fortunate.
With his arrival at verse seven of chapter five, we have officially arrived at what can be described as his conclusion. Those who have written letters of instruction, presented a message, or prepared an official presentation probably identified the structure he has been following. He began his letter telling his reader what he would be sharing. He reinforces his main points throughout the letter, and he provides a final recap at the end.
He drew his reader’s attention to the fact they would face various trials throughout their life. Those trials, when endured patiently and with steadfastness, would result in the opportunity to grow a perfect/complete faith.
He also shared the primary ingredient every believer needs to have in order to reach their goal of developing a complete/perfect faith is wisdom. Encouraging his reader with the end result – those who persevere would receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.
James reminded his reader they would also face a variety of temptations from without and from within. He then sent his reader on a journey that reminded them of the importance of being implanted into the Word of God and being obedient to that Word. He included various examples of life situations that would provide followers of Christ with opportunities to demonstrate their faith through their actions.
He has challenged his readers to remember that every good and perfect gift comes from God. Followers of Christ should strive to naturally demonstrate the characteristics of God in their everyday lives. They should also experience the dwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Showing favoritism, understanding the connection between our faith and our deeds, the goal of taming our tongue, the position both the poor and the wealthy have before the Lord and understanding the difference between an earthly and a heavenly wisdom were all included in James’ letter as examples his readers should consider as they seek to grow in the Lord.
Now that James has arrived at the conclusion of his letter, it seems only natural for him to reiterate the primary truths he has shared in this short letter. For the contemporary follower of Christ, there is great value in reflecting on the encouragement James provides.
He begins with verses seven through nine of chapter five: “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. 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. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door.”
As at the beginning of his letter, James encouraged his “brothers and sisters” to be patient. This time, he includes a time line – “until the Lord’s coming.” The beginning encouragement was to “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces PERSEVERANCE.”
One will not persevere without patience!
In typical fashion throughout the letter, James provides an example, that of a farmer and his crops. Those who have had the joy of serving as farmers know how necessary it is to demonstrate patience. Seeds are planted, they are germinated (by the early and late rains), and the plants MUST have time to “mature” to the point of producing fruit. Farmers who are not willing to be patient for the process to naturally progress to completion run the risk of destroying their crops before they even reach the harvesting season. The example of a farmer seems to be a perfect example for James to include.
Wise farmers wait for the “precious fruit” their crops have the ability to produce. Followers of Christ today should demonstrate the same patience/perseverance/endurance with the various trials we face in our lives. We are not enduring simply for the sake of survival. No! We are enduring for the precious “fruit” that endurance will produce – a perfect/complete faith, a crown of life, the good and perfect gifts from God (His characteristics) and ultimately other brothers and sisters in Christ.
James’ letter should also serve as a perfect letter of encouragement to the contemporary Christian. We can say without hesitation each of us will have our own unique trials that will have to be endured. One has to wonder how many brothers and sisters in the Lord have failed to “consider it pure joy” as they have navigated the trials of life, like the one that has existed for the last couple of months. Covid-19 certainly qualifies as one of our “trials of many kinds!”
Have we allowed the stress and anxiety of this season to rob us of our joy? Have we lost sight of the end-result, our victory in Christ? Have we been able to persevere with patience the current trial before us? James has challenged his readers to face life with a sense of “joy”, not because of the trails but because of the “fruit” that would be produced as they patiently endured those trials. When the farmer’s crops reach maturity and they begin yielding their fruit, it is a season of “joy” and celebration for the farmer. His/her patient endurance has resulted in a victorious conclusion – a crop. We are to be patient and stand firm because we are looking for a victorious conclusion, the coming of the Lord.
We will take a close look at the significance of the coming of the Lord tomorrow.