Patience as the Ultimate Virtue for a Christian
Life Lessons from Hard Times – Studies in James
James now transitions from prophetic admonition, you too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s comings is near, to the example of patience from the prophets themselves:
James 5:10-11 10Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the LORD. 11As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the LORD finally brought about. The LORD is full of compassion and mercy.
1. The twin truths of suffering and patience – inseparable and necessary. The Bible is full of encouragement to those who suffer and examples of saints who endured. The majority of the disciples died martyrs’ deaths. Jesus led the way by example. The cross continues to mark out the Christian brand, so to speak. And not in a comfortable way. James had first off reminded these first-century Christians: Consider it pure joy, my brother, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing (Gr. Dokimos) of your faith develops perseverance. And remember, ‘Dokimos’ was the stamp on many ancient eastern pottery pieces that marked a dish or bowl as tested and proven after going through the fiery kiln to final results. So the same is true of us.
2. Job as the example of patience. James draws on the well-known story of Job, who though more righteous than all, lost everything but his life with the allowed suffering by God. But while it is easy to get caught up in the devastating losses to family, to property, in health, lacking wisdom from his friends, Job ended up better off In two respects, after all of his sufferings:
- In his greater knowledge of and relationship with God: ‘my ears have heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you’ (Job 42:5). We call this a knowledge moving from the head to the heart!
- And in his physical restoration: ‘The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first’ (Job 42:12). In the OT, the measurement of possessions and health were earmarks of the blessings of God.
3. Bottom line for the suffering saint: The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. God has not left us to our own devices, failures, fears or frustrations. As our good God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5).
Are you facing desperate times? Circumstances beyond your control? Problems with no foreseen answers? Take them back to your heavenly Father, who, from the example of his Son Jesus, stood in your place and now offers you the compassion, wisdom and mercy to see it through to an end where you are growing up into Him who is our Head. This is great stuff! Blessing on you this week.
– John Moore