A woman once approached the famous violinist Fritz Kreisler after one of his virtuoso performances. Her approach was actually more like a rushing teenage groupie. As soon as she was within shouting distance she exclaimed, “I’d give my life to play as beautifully as you do!” Kreisler’s reply was a classic. He smiled and said, “I did,” and walked away.
Last week a dear friend was lamenting his lack of patience with his wife. The same day I heard another man say, “I hate traffic; just hate it!”
This week I read about a man who hates to stand in line anywhere he goes. Every time he sees a line - at the grocery store, a ball game, anywhere, he always says the same thing, “I stood in line all through the Army and I don’t intend to stand in any more lines for the rest of my life!” Now when we hear the word, “Patience”, that’s what we normally think; lines, spouses, traffic. But not our friend, James. He’s talking about a patience that is much more like that of Fritz Kreisler than that ex-Army man.
Throughout our four-month investigation of James’ letter we have repeatedly seen how practical James is, and how relevant his words are to our lives. Rather than portraying the Christian life as a war or a series of big spiritual battles, it’s a series of small choices we make every day.
One of my college professors, Thomas Howard, famously said, “Heaven and hell are under every bush.” And what he meant by that is what James is talking about throughout this letter. Hell is, “Your life for mine.” In other words, “It’s all about me…The purpose of your life is to satiate my deepest desires.” Heaven is the opposite, “My life for yours. I am here to love you as I love myself.”
In Sunday’s text, James 5:7-12, we will hear James talking about the necessity of patience. It’s a patience that resembles not only the Old Testament prophets and people like Job, but God Himself. If anyone ever demonstrated biblical patience, it’s Jesus Himself.
As with most of James’ words, there’s a lot in this text. If we begin to see the Holy Spirit applying its truth to or lives, our joy and peace will explode. In preparation for Sunday’s message entitled “Patience” you may wish to consider the following:
- Why does James pepper these verses with the word, “brother”; or as some manuscripts say, “brother and sisters?”
- What six imperatives does James issue in these six verses? (Hint: One of them is repeated.)
- What do you know about the early and latter rains in Palestine?
- What does James mean in verse 8 when he says, “Establish your hearts”?
- What does James analogize to the latter rain?
- How does the coming of the Lord breed biblical patience?
- Why the admonition against grumbling in verse 9? What connecting is there between patience and a lack of grumbling?
- What is the secret to steadfastness?
- What does avoiding oath-taking and swearing by heaven or earth have to do with patience?
- Look at Luke 9:51 and what Jesus does. James uses the same word to describe what he calls all of his brothers and sisters to do.