Tuesday, January 11, 2022

2022.01.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ James 5:7–11

Read James 5:7–11

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle call us (James 5:7)? What are we to be? Until when? Who is an illustration of this? What must we establish (James 5:8)? Why? What aren’t we to do against one another (James 5:9)? Why not? How imminently? What does he call us a third time in James 5:10? Whom should we consider? What did they do? Of what were they an example? Whom, then, do we count blessed (James 5:11)? Of what have we heard? What have we seen? What did this show us about Whom?  

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and first song all come from James 5:7–11 so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Be Still My Soul.

The prophet, Jesus’s brother, began chapter five warning the rich for what is about to come upon them. Now in James 5:7, the prophet turns to believers and addresses them as brethren. Just as with the rich, the brethren have something that is about to come: their Lord. But for them, it seems like quite a long time until he comes, so the command in verse 7, and again in James 5:8, is “be patient.” The farmer can do his tasks, but he must wait upon the time appointed by the Lord. So also believers must be patient for the time appointed by the Lord for His return.

But what are we to do in our patience? James 5:8 answers, “establish your hearts.” Strengthen/fix/set your hearts. Whatever our lot now, there is something it can never undo: the coming of our Lord. If He, and His compassion and mercy (James 5:11c), are ours then it is only a matter of time until we come into full possession and enjoyment of all that He has determined for us. We are to use this truth, this reality, to establish our hearts.

And what are we not to do? We are not to grumble (James 5:9a).  We are not to groan. Not against the Lord’s providence. And not against one of the most difficult parts of that providence: one another. Yes, believers delight in one another’s sweet fellowship (cf. Psalm 16:3, Ephesians 2:14–19), and it is in fact a fellowship with our Lord and our heavenly Father (cf. 1 John 1:3). But until the Lord comes, believers in this world will also be sinners, and as such will have much to forgive (cf. Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:12–13) as they give one another much cause to groan (James 5:9, cf. Ephesians 4:31). Still, we must forgive, since an unforgiving heart is a reliable indicator that one is condemned (James 5:7, cf. Matthew 18:35).  Our passage today doesn’t pretend to us that this blessed enduring (James 5:11a) will be easy. Look at the examples it uses: Job (verse 11b)!! Not just the patience of the prophets but their suffering (James 5:10)!!

Over-against such pain, the Lord sets His own extreme compassion and mercy (James 5:11c). In the end intended by the Lord, Job knew it was so (verse 11b). And you will see that compassion and mercy soon. He is at hand. He is coming. He is very compassionate and merciful. By these things, establish your hearts, be patient, and do not grumble.

What pain are you enduring? Who has hurt you? What truth and reality do you need to bring to bear upon your heart in order to forgive? How have you seen the Lord’s compassion and mercy?

Sample prayer:  Lord, Your compassion and mercy are very great. And great they must needs be to overcome our sin and establish our hearts. Forgive us our sin, and make us forgiving of others. Grant unto us a clear and confident sight of Your soon return, and so strengthen our hearts in Jesus Christ, in Whose Name we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP80 “My Heart Is Not Exalted, Lord” or TPH532 “Be Still, My Soul”

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