Part 13 – Let God be the Judge
This is part 13 of a 15 part Bible Study on the book of James .
Compiled and written by Norma Becker – a true woman of God and God’s word.
*The Index, with links, to all 15 parts is at the bottom of each page.
Let God be the Judge
We have all experienced the hurt of mistreatment and misunderstanding. Such hurts come in a variety of packages: intolerable work situations, domestic conflicts, parents, children, or relatives taking advantage of us, friends who turn against us, neighbours who entertain untrue opinions and dozens of other painful circumstances. Our natural tendency is to retaliate, to return evil for evil, to get back, or to hold a grudge and become bitter in your souls.
God has a better idea, and James reveals this alternative in this next passage. Not only does James tell us what to do in place of retaliation but he tells us how to do it.
“Be patient, then, brothers until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider 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. Above all, my brothers, do not swear – not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “no,” no, or you will be condemned.”
James is talking to believers who had these same feelings and reactions against the rich who mistreated them in verses 1-6. Perhaps someone came to James and asked him “How should I correctly react when I have been treated incorrectly?” Be patient. Have long patience or be long suffering. Then there is another of James’ illustrations…the farmers then were entirely dependent on the autumn and spring rains and the faithful farmer knew that God would be true to His promise of Deuteronomy that “if His people kept His commandments He would give them the autumn and spring rains.” So his patience was more like confident expectancy. His faith in the reliability of God gave him confidence during a time that could have been full of anxiety.
Be Patient in the Face of Injustices
Now, in the same way, the faithful Christian knows that Christ will be true to His promise to come again to His people. We can’t be sure of the time in the same way that the farmer could determine the time of the harvest but our patience is grounded on the certainty of our faith.
When the Bible speaks of God’s patience with humans as in Romans 2:4:
“Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”
and 1 Peter 3:2:
“He was patient when the ark was being built”
it is significant that these words are used. God is patient because He is slow to anger and of great kindness and doesn’t punish transgressors as they deserve. If the all-holy God, faced with all our human sin, is patient, James implies that Christians should be patient in the face of the injustices of human life. His patience should be extended to God for failing to avenge immediately and to his fellow men. He also shouldn’t attempt to vindicate himself by assuming the role of judge of his fellow men. And the power to exercise this patience is available for him just as far as he submits himself to the Holy Spirit, for a fruit of that Spirit is long suffering (Gal. 5:22).
“Be patient and stand firm” (James 5:8).
If are patient and hold back a reaction, we may have a tendency to become discouraged or fall into self pity. So he says, “Stand firm – literally, strengthen your heart.” The Lord will come and give you comfort and peace. Also, in the scheme of eternity, the Lord’s coming is near and then everything will be set right. If we are confident in this, it should strengthen our hearts. Do we really live like He could be coming today?
He tells us in verse nine that believers are to be patient toward both outsiders who oppress them and insiders who irritate them. We just have to remember that the Lord knows even our inward thoughts and feelings.
If YOU Think You Have Problems….
Then James says, more or less, “If you think you are having problems, just think of what some of the prophets went through.” Most of the prophets that the Old Testament tells about were examples of suffering and patience.
Jeremiah: He was told by God to deliver several messages to his countrymen that were very unpopular because they were so pessimistic. He had to tell them of their sins and what was going to happen as a result. Consequently he was beaten, put in stocks, imprisoned in a dungeon and thrown into a cistern by those he was trying to help. Instead of blaming those who persecuted him, he continued to obey.
Job: Verse 11 goes on to say:
“As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered.”
We have the expression ”the patience of Job,” but interestingly, he doesn’t say Job had patience but that he had perseverance, steadfastness and endurance.
Remember back in James 1:2-3 he said,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” Job faced blow after blow.
First all his livestock and servants were killed, then all of his children and their families were destroyed and he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
When he continued to have one problem after another, his wife told him to curse God and die, but he said, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” To his “so called friends” who kept telling him to repent because God was punishing him for his sins he said, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” He was determined to endure his sufferings without losing faith in God. In the end he was able to say, “I know that my Redeemer lives.”
The end of verse 11 says: “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” Job’s experience was also proof of that statement when we see what the Lord finally brought about for him. Because Job persevered, God gave him “twice as much as he had before” in family, material possessions and worldly prosperity. He came to have a fuller understanding of the sovereignty of God and became capable of greater penitence. Even before all of this was restored to him he said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
What do you think James 5:7-11 is teaching us?
How are we to apply it?
We are not to fight back but to exercise long suffering patience toward those who cause us pain and he is calling for stout-hearted perseverance in trying circumstances that confront us.
Chuck Swindoll gives some good advice based on these verses:
Don’t focus on the situation, or you’ll become angry – be patient.
Don’t focus on yourself, or you’ll become filled with self-pity – stand firm, strengthen your heart.
Don’t focus on someone to blame, or you’ll begin complaining – don’t grumble against each other.
“Do not swear…let your yes be yes and your no, no or you will be condemned.” (James 5:12).
Rather than using an oath to convince people that a statement is true, the Christian should let his, “yes be yes” and his “no, no.” He should be honest in all his speech so that when he says ‘yes’ or no people will know it is unquestionably the truth.
Part 14: The Power of Prayer & Praise
Index of James Bible Study
Part 1 Who is James?
Part 2 When and to Whom Was James Written?
Part 3 How to Welcome Trials with an Attitude of Joy?
Part 4 What Does ‘Tempt’ Mean?
Part 5 What is the Key to Responding to Trials?
Part 6 Those with True Religion Should Serve
Part 7 Expression of the Character and Will of God Himself
Part 8 Spiritual Maturity
Part 9 Spiritual Maturity continued…
Part 10 What Causes Fights and Quarrels Among You?
Part 11 Is This How We Are To Be?
Part 12 What About My Plans?
Part 13 Let God be the Judge
Part 14 The Power of Prayer & Praise
Part 15 Summary and last part