Gets Its Hands Dirty part 13
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
April 20, 2008
Passage: James 5:7-12
just made you wait about 15 seconds. You didn’t like it much, did you?
I mean, none of us likes to wait. But yet we spend so much of our lives
doing just that.
Think about it. As a little kid, you couldn’t
wait to start school, and then you couldn’t wait until you got out of
school. You couldn’t wait until summer, and then you couldn’t wait
until Christmas. You can’t wait for vacation, you can’t wait to go
shopping, you can’t wait for the playoffs (or maybe you can) … maybe
you couldn’t wait to fall in love, to get married, to have kids... we
spend a lot of our lives waiting.
And there are many things in
life that test our patience: driving in traffic, standing in grocery
store lines, sitting in the doctor’s office, being around irritating
people. Lots of things test our patience, and all too often it seems we
fail the test.
Especially when you’re hungry. Have you noticed
that the more expensive the restaurant the longer you wait? There are
actually five different waits when you go to a restaurant. You wait to
get a seat, then you wait to get the menu, then you wait to order, then
you wait to get the food back, then you wait for the bill. And they
have the audacity to call that guy the waiter!
I’m a fan of the
TV show NCIS. Maybe some of you are, too. And on that show, there’s a
doctor called “Ducky” who performs all the autopsies and is known for
talking with his… patients. Here’s a quote from one of the episodes…
“Only the dead know the true meaning of patience.”
~ Ducky on NCIS
I don’t want that to be true for you and me. I think we can learn about
patience while we’re still alive. In fact, I think James had some
pretty good things to say about being patient in that passage that ____
read for us earlier.
In that passage, James used three different
illustrations to teach us when to be patient, why to be patient, and
how to be patient.
So let’s start with “When should I be patient?”
Should I Be Patient?
James isn’t saying we have to be patient all the time, but he is saying
that there are three special times when you need an extra dose of
When circumstances are uncontrollable
you figured out that a lot of life is beyond your control? You cannot
keep your thumb on everything. James uses a farmer as an example of
when circumstances are uncontrollable.
James 5:7 (NLT)
the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the
spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.
known some farmers. I’ve even worked on their farms. And I know you
don’t go into farming unless you’ve got patience. Because part of the
job description of being a farmer is you do a lot of waiting: waiting
to till, waiting to plant, waiting to prune, waiting to harvest...
there are a lot of factors in waiting. A farmer waits for the things he
has to do, but even more than that is waiting for the factors that the
farmer has no control over – weather, rain, heat, the economy... It
takes patience to be a farmer. You deal with a lot of uncontrollable
circumstances. It’s true today, and it was true when James was writing
these words down. It was especially true then, because in the area he
was talking about, it wasn’t the best of farming land. So they really
needed extra patience, particularly when it came to things that were
beyond their control.
But what is our tendency? When something
is beyond our control, what do we tend to do? We tend to worry. Instead
of showing patience, we worry. But understand this: To worry about
something you can change is dumb, and to worry about something you
can’t change is useless. So either way you shouldn’t worry. Instead of
worrying, we need to have patience when it comes to uncontrollable
Worry is natural, but patience is supernatural. And God specializes in
the supernatural. He can help you learn patience.
PLAY SONG – HAVE PATIENCE, by The Music Machine
Have patience, have patience, don't be in such a hurry.
When you get impatient, you only start to worry.
Remember, remember, that God is patient too,
And think of all the times when others have to wait for you!
When people are unchangeable
When people won’t change. James gives an example of the prophets…
James 5:10 (NLT)
For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look
at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
about this. What was the duty of prophets? What were they here to do?
They were here to help people change, to bring them back to God, to
make a difference in their behavior.
But most times, it took a
lot of work over a lot of years before they saw any significant changes
happening in the people. Why is that? Because people resist change.
let me give you a little assignment. This week, go to the mall and just
stop random people and tell them that you think they’d look better if
they had a different hairstyle. See what kind of response you get. Or
maybe give them some fashion advice. Or give some parents some
unsolicited advice about how to raise their children.
What’s going to happen? When you make any little tiny suggestion,
they’re going to resist you!
Now, just to clarify, I don’t really want you to do that. It could be
hazardous to your health.
people do resist change, don’t they? Do you have anybody in your life
right now who refuses to change? It’s obvious at least to you that they
need to change, but they’re resisting for all they’re worth? They
refuse to think any differently and they refuse to live and
differently. In fact, they may never change. What are you going to do
about it? James says to have patience.
Here’s a little greek
vocabulary lesson: The word “patience” in the Greek is the word
“macrothumos” -- “macro” meaning “long” and “thumos” (from which we get
the word “thermometer”) meaning “heat”. So if you have patience, it
literally means that it takes a long time for you to get hot. You’ve
got a long fuse, you don’t blow up, you don’t get overheated with
Which I think is a great definition. If you’re going
to be a success with people, you have to learn patience. You don’t blow
up over the least little thing. If you’re going to be successful
parents, you have to have a long fuse. You don’t get overheated. In
fact, what’s the very first word Paul uses to define love? It’s in 1st
Corinthians 13… “Love is…” what? Love is patient. You don’t have a
short fuse, you don’t lose your cool, you’re patient. If you’re going
to have healthy relationships, you’ve got to be patient.
James says we need to be patient when circumstances are beyond our
control and when people are unchangeable and just won’t cooperate with
us. And third, James says we need patience…
When problems are unexplainable
James 5:11 (NLT)
We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance,
you know about Job, a man of great endurance.
played in the Super Bowl of suffering. Listen to what happened to him…
at the time he was the wealthiest man that ever lived. He had
everything going for him. But then in a two-day period, everything fell
part. He went bankrupt, his children were murdered, he got an
incurable, deadly disease that was very painful… And you think you’ve
got problems! He lost his family, his friends, his finances. He was
suffering materially, physically, socially -- every kind of way. And
then on top of all that, one day his wife comes to him and says, “Curse
God and die!” Now that’s a support system!
The worst part of
Job’s suffering was that he had absolutely no idea why it was
happening. For 37 chapters in the book of Job, God doesn’t even talk to
him and tell him why it’s happening. There was no apparent reason for
his misfortune. His problems were completely unexplainable. They simply
But then, life is not fair! God never said it
would be fair. A lot of things in life just don’t make sense. Some of
them we’ll never understand on this side of Heaven. Job didn’t
understand what was going on. But yet, even in the midst of all of
those unexplained problems, Job maintained his faith.
we just can’t figure out our problems. But James says that in those
times, we have to have patience. We have to have faith.
James says to have patience when circumstances are uncontrollable, when
people are unchangeable, and when problems are unexplainable. But why?
What reasons do you and I have to be patient?
Should I Be Patient?
Because God is in control
James 5:8 (NLT)
You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is
times in this passage James reminds us, “The Lord’s coming is near,
Jesus is coming back.” And really, that is the ultimate proof that God
is in control. Nothing can stop it. The Bible talks more about Jesus’
second coming than it does about His first coming.” God is in control
of how history will unfold – because all of history is “his story”.
He’s got it all planned out, everything is on His schedule, nothing is
late, it’s all moving toward a climax when He returns. God is in
I need to remember this: Even though a situation may be
out of my control, no circumstance is out of God’s control. Although I
can’t control everything that happens in my life, God can. So I ought
to trust Him. Because God is in control and working everything out. I
just need to be patient.
Because God rewards patience
Check out what James says…
James 5:11 (NLT)
We give great honor to those who endure under suffering.
already talked about the great turmoil Job experienced in his life. He
had everything going for him… wealth, health, family… and then he lost
it all. And he endured those terrible couple of days… worse than any
two days that you and I have ever experienced. But then, things turned
around again. And the second half of Job’s life was more blessed than
the first half. God doubled everything he had. He gave great honour to
Job for enduring the suffering.
It pays to be patient. There are
all kinds of rewards. Your character grows, you get along with people
better, you’re more happy, you reach your goals. Even if there are no
other tangible rewards, those in themselves are benefit enough. There
are lots of benefits of being patient. God rewards it.
on this side of eternity, but on the other side as well. James talks
about patiently enduring suffering because Jesus is coming again. And
Jesus Himself talked about this, too…
Matthew 5:11-12 (NLT)
blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you
and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my
followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits
you in heaven.”
So when people put you down, when they criticize
you, when they lie about you and spread false rumours about you because
you are a follower of Jesus… when you have to endure suffering… be
patient, because there’s going to be a reward in heaven.
what’s our natural tendency? When somebody hurts you or insults you,
what do you want to do? You want revenge. You want to retaliate. You
want to strike back. You want to get even and even get ahead. When you
get criticized, you want to criticize back. If you get insulted, you
want to insult back.
I remember when I was a kid and my
brother and I were outside playing in the yard. Back in those days I
had a bit of a temper, especially when it came to my brother. There
were days I couldn’t stand him and I’m sure he felt the same about me.
Anyway, we were outside and he threw some kind of an insult at me… I
can’t even remember what he said… but whatever it was he just pushed
the wrong button and I swung my jacket at him as hard as I could… and
the zipper caught him right in the mouth. I had just chopped off a
piece of his tooth! You know, it’s amazing how quickly anger can change
to fear. I don’t know if I was more afraid of what he would do to me or
what my parents would do to me. Anyway, he had to go to the dentist and
get his tooth capped, and I learned a valuable lesson that day about
You know, revenge is a natural reaction. Nobody had
to prompt me to strike back at my brother. Revenge is natural, but it’s
the opposite of patience. So the next time someone insults you or
criticizes you or hurts you in some way, before you strike back at
them, ask yourself, “Is it worth it? Is this worth giving up the reward
I’m going to have in Heaven?”
You need to be patient because God is ultimately in control and He’s
going to reward patience. And you need to be patient…
Because God is working things out
only is He in control and not only is He going to reward you, but He’s
going to work things out, too. But the problem is, this often happens
behind the scenes. And we don’t even see what He’s doing. He’s at work
but we don’t see Him at work. So maybe we start to doubt that He’s
doing anything at all. We start to wonder if we should trust Him… if we
should have faith in Him… if we should be patient.
James 5:11 (NLT)
…You know about Job… You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the
end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.
truth is, God was always working. All the time that Job was suffering
and not knowing what was going on, God was working. Job couldn’t see
it, but God’s hand was busy working everything out.
You see, a
delay does not mean a denial. If you’ve been praying for an answer to
prayer and you haven’t gotten it, then you might want to think God
doesn’t want to give the answer to you. But a delay is not a denial. We
have to learn the difference between “no” and “not yet”. Because
there’s a big difference. We’re looking for God to work on our time
table, but we have to be patient. God is at work, even when we don’t
see what’s going on.
Phillip Brooks was a famous pastor of the
19th century. I heard a story about how one day he was in his office,
pacing the floor, frustrated. Somebody walked in and saw him and asked,
“What’s the matter, pastor?” And he responded, “I’m in a hurry and God
Sometimes we’re in a hurry, but God isn’t. That’s when
we need to learn to trust Him and be patient. God says, “Be patient
because I’m working things out.”
Romans 8:28 (NLT)
know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those
who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
the word “everything”. In all things… in every circumstance in your
life… God is working. So be patient. Trust Him. Listen, I don’t know
what kinds of problems are represented here this morning. I know what
some of you are going through, but I don’t know everything. But God
does. And you need to know that regardless of the problem you’re going
through… financial, relational, health… whatever it is… God is working
in that problem. Be patient and trust Him.
So what do you do in the meantime? While you’re being patient, what can
Am I To Be Patient?
let’s go back to James for the answer. James gives us three
illustrations here, so let’s look at them and see what we’re supposed
to do while we’re waiting on God…
First the farmer. What did the farmer do? Well, he waited expectantly.
James 5:7 (NLT)
Consider the farmers… They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to
farmers were eager… they were expectant… they knew that the harvest was
going to be there so they were watching for it to ripen. So if a
farmer’s expecting a harvest, what does he do? Does he sit inside all
day and read Chatelaine?
What does a farmer do while he’s waiting on God? He’s preparing for the
answer. He’s getting ready.
you’re a fisherman. When does fishing season open? What do you do
before then? Sure, you get your boat ready, you get your nets ready,
you finish up all the little things around the house that you’ve been
working on through the winter… you do all of that even before the
season begins because you’re expecting it to come. You’re preparing for
Preparation shows your expectation. So if you are expecting
an answer from God, while you’re waiting patiently, you also need to be
waiting expectantly by preparing for the answer to come.
Psalm 130:5 (AMP)
I wait for the Lord, I expectantly wait, and in His word do I hope.
you expect God to do something, then prove it! Get ready for it. What
are you doing to get ready for it? Are you preparing for the answer? If
the answer came today, would you be ready?
You know, a lot of
times when I’m waiting on God, He’s really waiting on me. I think a lot
of times He was ready to give the answer a long time ago but I wasn’t
ready to receive it. I wasn’t prepared spiritually. I wasn’t prepared
in my relationships. I wasn’t prepared in my financial habits. I wasn’t
prepared in my character. So sometimes, when we seek an answer from
God, I think He says to us, “Grow up! Get some spiritual depth in your
life. I want to bless your life but you can’t handle the blessing I
want to pour on you. When you’ve got some spiritual muscle in your
life, I’ll bless you beyond what you can imagine.”
Isaiah 49:23 (MSG)
“No one who hopes in me ever regrets it.”
you know what? When you wait expectantly… when you’re preparing for God
to answer and you’re growing and you’re building up some spiritual
muscle… then you can actually enjoy the process. Because you can see
the changes that are happening in your life… in your heart, in your
attitudes, in your habits, in your character… you can reap the benefits
of patience even before the answer comes. This is how Augustine put it…
“No person loves what he endures, though he may love the act of
Waiting is a time to get ready. It’s a time to grow. It’s a time to
prepare. Wait expectantly.
this one’s tough. Because as James points out, we have a tendency to
run off at the mouth when we’re irritated, when we’re tense, when we’re
under pressure, when things aren’t going our way and things aren’t
under our control. So James warns us of this…
James 5:9 (NLT)
Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be
it’s interesting that right in the middle of talking about being
patient, James warns us about grumbling and complaining. Why? Why does
he talk about grumbling right in the middle of talking about patience?
Because if you’re grumbling then you’re not showing patience. You’re
showing impatience and frustration and worry and anxiety and bitterness
and anger… but you’re certainly not showing patience.
So let me
ask you this: When you get up in the morning, do you rise and shine or
do you rise and whine? Do you grumble and complain about everything?
James warns us not to grumble when we have to wait. Because if you’re
grumbling, you’re not being patient.
You wait expectantly and you wait quietly.
How can you wait confidently? Because you know the character of God.
You know what He’s like, so you know you can trust Him.
James 5:11 (NLT)
…The Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.
full of tenderness and mercy. And He wants to pour that tenderness and
mercy out on you. So relax. Be confident in who He is and how He works.
Trust that He will do what He says He will do. Believe in His
faithfulness. In the Old Testament, this is what David wrote…
Psalm 37:7 (NLT)
Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.
you know that He will act. He’s dependable. He’s never failed, and He
never will. David could tell us to wait for God to act because he had
done that himself. And he wrote a Psalm about how God had come through
Psalm 40:1-3 (NLT)
I waited patiently for the Lord
to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of
the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on
solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new
song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.
So let me ask
you: Where do you need to have patience this morning? Do you have an
uncontrollable circumstance in your life right now? Maybe you’re in a
job situation and things are happening that are beyond your control. Or
maybe you’ve encountered some financial problems that are beyond your
control. Maybe you have an illness. Maybe you’ve got an unchangeable
person who’s just complicating your life. Maybe you even live under the
same roof as them. You need patience with an unchangeable person. You
need patience with unexplainable problems. You need patience with
things that are out of your control.
You need to know that you
can have patience because God is in control. And He is at work in your
life, even if you can’t see it right now. You can trust Him. You can
depend on His tenderness and mercy. He will not abandon you. He’s there
Let’s pray. Maybe you need to pray first. Just quietly where you are,
perhaps you need to pray something like this…
I need patience. I tend to be impatient. I tend to grumble and worry
and retaliate… but that’s not how I want to be. I want to live Your
way. So teach me to be patient. Help me to wait expectantly, getting
ready for Your answer to my prayer even before it comes. Help me to
wait quietly and not to grumble and complain about my frustrations.
Help me to wait confidently, to be still and trust that You’re working
behind the scenes. Help me not to get nervous and anxious and worried.
Help me with that unchangeable person. Help me with that uncontrollable
circumstance. Help me to be patient with that unexplainable problem.”
Now let me pray for all of us…
I thank You for Your Word. Thank You for what we’ve learned from it
today. Help us to be patient people. Help us to be patient because we
know we can trust You. You are faithful, and you have promised that You
would work everything out for the good of those who love You. Thank you
for that promise.
series uses a variety of source materials, primarily "A Faith that
Worls" by Rick Warren, "Faith for Pedestrians" by Laurence Croswell,
and "James: Hands-On Christianity" by Charles Swindoll.]