Friday, April 17, 2009

Impatient for Justice; the Necessity of Patience

Getting patience takes time. It is a virtue and work of the Holy Spirit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,..." (Gal. 5:22). Don't put off learning it and praying for it. There is injustice in the world where the rich can run over the weak and the poor. "Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you;..." (Jas. 5:4). To the unjust world, James says, "You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you" (Jas. 5:6). It is God's people who a mistreated by the powerful and they cry out to God for justice. Their belongings are taken from them; their wages are withheld from them. James reminds the Christians to be patient for when God rights life's wrongs. Without patience, we will likely quit and not endure to the end.

Justice at the Coming of the Lord. James 5:7 says, "Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord". Justice is coming and the unrighteous will be judged. They will account for their thieving. They will account for what they took from the mouth of your children. They have stolen your property and God disapproves. Christians respect God's promise that the unrighteous will not escape Judgment Day.

Learn to be Patient like the Farmer. A farmer keeps planting, he keeps doing his part to bring in a harvest. The farmer knows that summer will end and that the fruit will come. He knows the necessity of patience. He goes through adversity. But neither pestilence, drought nor broken hydraulic lines make him quit. He gets up each day, from early dawn to late evening, to work the field, keep his books, and maintain his buildings and equipment. Like a farmer waiting for the harvest, patience means knowing that "the Lord is near" (Jas. 5:8). Patience is trusting the outcome to God, trusting in the coming of the Lord.

The Impatient turn to Complaining. Like the Farmer that knows the harvest is coming, Christians know by faith that "the Judge is at the door" (Jas. 5:9). And so he says to the Christians, "do not complain". Do we know why? Why is because the complaining turns us in to the judge. The moment we lose patience, we lose patience that God is going to help. Complainers have decided they don't trust God. And in this capacity as judge, there is no limit to the foolishness and injustice they will themselves commit. If your patient with God, don't turn to complaining.

Strengthen your hearts. Fortify yourself on God's promises. Settle down in the promises of God. "You too be patient; strengthen your hearts", James writes (Jas. 5:8). The impatient person is not satisfied with God's timing. And this impatience will be like an ulcer or a sore tooth that causes much pain. The impatient person says, I want it and I want it now. Impatience is unbecoming of a person of faith. Out hearts are always strengthened by knowing that God is faithful and true and He will not forsake us.

To the immature, to the impetuous, to the unfaithful it makes no earthly sense that they have to wait for God's justice. But they make themselves sick if they don't learn to trust in God. Look and learn from the farmer. Know that the Judge is at the door. He will not forget you. Justice is coming. He is the God who looks out for the abused and He takes up their cause. Like a farmer, keep doing God's will. Plant and water with an active, obedient faith (James 2:14ff) and know that God will right all of the wrongs.

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