Lesson 21

The Epistle of James

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

5:9 Don't grumble, brothers, against one another, so that you won't be judged. Behold, the judge stands at the door. 5:10 Take, brothers, for an example of suffering and of patience, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 5:11 Behold, we call them blessed who endured. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the Lord in the outcome, and how the Lord is full of compassion and mercy. 5:12 But above all things, my brothers, don't swear, neither by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath; but let your "yes" be "yes," and your "no," "no;" so that you don't fall into hypocrisy.

Today's Lesson 

The coming of the Lord is at hand. Therefore, James writes to his charges that they should establish their hearts by faith, always looking forward to the coming of the Lord just as a farmer awaits the harvest. The Lord will come when the time is right, just as the time of harvest comes at its appropriate time. 


How does James want those in his charge to prepare for the coming of the Lord? In this passage James suggest three things that will prepare them. First, they should prepare themselves to be judged. Specifically they should do this by not grumbling against one another. Second, they should take as an example the suffering and patience of the prophets who also, in their own sense, waited for the coming of the Lord. And third, they should be truthful and honest, forswearing hypocrisy.


First, don't grumble against one another. It is one thing to honestly disagree with other Christians about matters of opinion. It is another to dishonor the body of Christ by finding fault in the people that Christ died to make faultless before God. Those that are in Christ belong to Christ. Their lives and their character are in the hands of the creator of the universe. It is not for me to judge them or to grumble over their faults. I have plenty of faults of my own that God wants me to deal with.


The coming of the Lord should make us prepare for the judgment of our souls. "Behold, the judge stands at the door." Live your lives as though God stands just outside your door, ready to enter your life at any moment and call your existence into question and into judgment.


Second, take as an example the suffering and patience of the prophets who also, in their own sense, waited for the coming of the Lord. The prophets endured suffering for the sake of the Lord. Though they spoke in His name, they were beaten and killed. James has warned these brothers in Christ that they too will be called on to suffer for the name of God. The ones who will be blessed by God will be those that endure until the end, just as the prophets did.


Then James sites an example of suffering and of patience. The book of Job is a story about a rich man who is beset by tragedy. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, disaster strikes everywhere. His life is ruined. James used Job in this context as an example of the patience that is necessary to endure.


This is particularly interesting if one were to read Job and consider what would happen in the average church to a member who expressed some of the same thoughts about God that Job does. Job questions why God would allow these tragedies to befall a man such as himself. He grumbles that he did not deserve his fate, and he even goes so far as to suggest that God should not have allowed him to be born at all if this were to be his fate. Yet, here is a man that the Holy Spirit sites as someone who was patient and who endured to the end. Just because we question God and sometimes have doubts, does not mean that in God's eyes that we have not endured. God sees to the end of our race, not the missteps along the way.


And third, James tells his readers to let their "yes" be "yes" and their "no" be "no." They should not swear on an oath, but should in all things be honest and forthright. In this way they will be prepared when the Lord comes.


Are you honest with others, can they take your word without seeking to bind you to some promise of honesty or oath? Are you patient, willing to endure suffering all the way until the end? Is your faith that strong? If so, you may be ready to be judged at the Coming of the Lord. Behold, even now the Judge stands at the door.


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