December 8, 2021
What are you waiting for?
Most of the time when someone asks that question, they want you to hurry up and do something. They see no reason why you shouldn’t be taking action. At the same time, the normal posture of the Christian life is patient endurance, or a long obedience in the same direction. There is a comforting solace that your consistency (sometimes unhurriedly so) provides to those in your world as you reflect the perfect patience of God.
Recently, I noticed that the words patient, patience, and steadfast(ness) appear 6x in
James 5:7-11. Now, the book of James is generally (and rightfully) thought of as a book of action. James challenges the person who claims to be a believer but who has no gospel fruit. He is very clear about that. In fact, he is so emphatic on that (James 2:14-26) that some have wondered if James is teaching a works-based salvation. He is not. Think of it like this: The book of Romans answers the question of how are we justified. The answer is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. The book of James is answering the question of what does that faith look like? What are the evidences of that faith? If there is no gospel fruit, it means that there is no gospel root.
When we get to chapter 5, James is pointing out that one of the evidences of faith is a patient endurance in the headwinds of adversity. A couple of days ago, the winds were gusting at around 50mph. Walking into the wind required keeping your head down and pressing forward one step at a time. If you were going to make progress, it wasn’t going to be fast, but if you kept at it, you would make it. That is what the Christian life is usually like. We live facing the headwinds of our world. Like the farmer who knows that it takes an entire season to grow the crop (v.7), we press on, one step of faith at a time. We look at the lives of others (like the prophets v.10) who endured much more than us. From them we learn to keep believing one day at a time. Our patience is anchored to the promise of the return of Christ (v.7), the confidence in his purpose, and in his compassion and mercy (v.11).
Put this together and you don’t have a runner who is just gritting it out or a soldier who is just doing his duty. Our lives are so much more. Yes, there is grit to our faithfulness, but it is a gospel-fueled, heaven-focused grit. We are going somewhere, we are taking others with us and in doing so, we are pointing the way for others.
So, brothers and sisters, be patient until the coming of the Lord. (v.7)
Be patient, establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (v.8)
We consider those blessed who remain steadfast, because they are blessed. (v.11)
Press on Pilgrim!
Sunday’s text: 1 Samuel 5