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James 5:7-12

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! (verses 7-9)


The Lord is coming again! How good. Do you believe it? Jesus – our Saviour, Lord, Redeemer, King, Good Shepherd, the Resurrection and the Life – is coming again, to set all things to rights, and to take us to be with him forever. It’s an absolute certainty. Guaranteed. Hallelujah! Oh yes – hallelujah, indeed.

But we need to be patient. In these verses, James tells us that the Lord’s coming “is near.” In fact, the tense of the verb is stronger yet. It literally means “has drawn near” – the nearness is a present reality. Jesus’ coming is “right at hand.” But we need to understand that the completion of “near” may take much longer than we would have ordinarily expected. Indeed, it’s now been some 2000 years since James wrote these words. Yes, Jesus is certainly coming. He’s right at the door. But we need to wait. Patiently.

Patience is hard. It wears on us. It’s so easy to lose heart, get distracted, forget the certainty, give up hope, and instead just simply get on with life as is. But James urges, “Be patient.” The word means to persevere, or bravely endure, even in the face of disappointment and misfortune and trouble. Or, as the older translations put it, be “longsuffering” – hang in there for the long-term. Don’t give up hope. Why? Because the Lord is right at the door. He’s surely coming again. Even though we don’t know the day or the year.

Take a lesson from the farmer, James tells us. Look and see how the farmer waits for the harvest. Does he doubt? No, he waits for the autumn and spring rains, promised by the Lord, to do their work. And as he waits, he stays active. In faith, he’s already engaged in planting, and now, as he waits, he tends the soil, weeds the beds, irrigates the crops, and prepares for the coming harvest. He doesn’t fret about the length of time it’s taking. He trusts. Be patient like that.

Of course, the farmer has a general idea of the length of time the whole process will take. We don’t. But the one who has promised is faithful. His coming is certain. So, trust. Hope. Be patient.

In the meantime, let the certainty of the Lord’s coming impact your present relationships, particularly with brothers and sisters in Christ. Live out the reality of his coming by loving one another well. Don’t get into squabbles with each other. Don’t grumble and grouse. There are so many personal slights that could throw us for a loop. Don’t let them trip you up – instead, forgive. There are so many points of theology or biblical interpretation we could argue angrily – instead, hold to the essentials and extend grace on the non-essentials. Ironically, there are even so many arguments we could have about Christ’s second coming – different understandings about how the biblical promises will play out, leading to intense disagreements, angry exchanges, and even divisions between fellow-believers in Jesus. Passions can run high.

Don’t do it, James says. If you do, you will be judged. You will be judged by the very one who is “standing at the door,” Jesus himself, who is ready to fulfill his promise, ready to “come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

Be patient. Love one another. Set aside grumbling. Trust the Lord. Hold on to hope. Watch for his coming. Honour him well.


O Lord, I long for your coming. Strengthen patience within me that is alive and strong with confident hope. And, in honour of you, help me to love brothers and sisters well, here and now. To your glory. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.


Reflect: How can you nurture expectancy of the Lord’s coming? How can you strengthen patient endurance? What steps do you need to take?


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