Peninsula Community Church
June 30, 2013
James – Don’t be Restless
James 5:7-11 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
As we look at this text today, let me ask you a question. What causes you to be anxious? What causes you to toss and turn at night? For some, what causes you to bite your nails? For others, what causes you to eat to try to calm your nerves? For still others, what causes you to drink alcohol in excess or even greater still to turn drugs to calm your emotions?
How many like to wait? I have found that I do everything fast. I eat fast. I shower and get dressed fast. I play sports fast. The problem with doing everything fast is that it does not allow much rest. I am always in high gear. The problem is that I seldom sit and rest as I am always in motion. I am learning to sit and rest.
The point is we all experience times of anxiety. It is a part of who we are. As with other emotions, we have been created with the emotion of anxiety. It is a normal reaction to stressors in our lives. If, however anxiety becomes excessive or we never move beyond looking at the problems of life then we need to look deeper into what is causing the anxiety. It is the symptom, not the problem. We must understand that anxiety is a part of our makeup. It serves the purpose of warning us when something is not right. It is like the warning system on our car that says there is a problem. The warning light is not the problem it only points to a problem. So it is with anxiety, it is only a mechanism that points us to a problem.
James gives us a command here. He says to “Be patient, until The Lord comes.” The word he uses here for “patient” actually can be translated “long-tempered.” The words endure and patience mean to remain under. These words speak of “endurance” through difficult times and under great stress. One commentary translated the word this way. Patience means to “stay put and stand fast when you’d feel like running away.” Some scholars believe that long suffering refers to “patience” when dealing with people, while “endurance” refers to patience when dealing with conditions or situations.
The first illustration he uses is one of the farmer. The farmer is patient about the fruit of his labors. The farmer takes the necessary steps to prepare his soil, choose the seed, plant at the right time, fertilize with the correct fertilizer and then he waits. When the farmer has done all he can do, he waits. There is nothing he can do to expedite the growth of the seed other than what he has already done. When we have done all that we know to do, we wait patiently upon The Lord. We do not know the outcome but we are patient. I do not know any farmer that plants and then stands in the field to be sure the seed grows. He has a trust in the seed, in the fertilizer and the outcome that is up to the natural processes of plant growth.
Farming in essence is an act of faith. You plant and you wait. Why does the farmer wait so long? The fruit is precious and it is of great value to the farmer. As believers, God is calling us to faithfulness. We do what we know to do and then leave the rest to God, without any measure of anxiousness. The outcome of our lives is that we mature and the fruit of the spirit is cultivated in our hearts. As with the farmer, we don’t always see results right away but below the surface things are happening. There is a germination that is taking place and then suddenly up sprouts a shoot of life. It is a testimony to the process of waiting.
It is important to note that the farmer is not idle while he is waiting for the harvest. He is preparing his equipment. He is getting the storage bins ready. The result of being anxious and restless is that we fail to do what we need to do to get ready for the harvest in our lives.
We can do all of those things and yet still have to wait.
Look at these passages with me. Isaiah 40:28-31 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Psalm 37:5-6 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.
Psalm 37:4 Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.
Psalm 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.
It is interesting to note that the opposite of patient is anxiety, fear and nervousness. God has never called us to be anxious.
Philippians 4:5-7 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
What do we do while we wait?
- We do what we know to do based on the knowledge that has been revealed to us in the moment.
- We obey God’s commands to the best of our ability.
- We correct the areas in our lives that need correcting.
- We stay in the word which is an anchor for our souls.
- We focus on Christ knowing that he will lead us to where we need to be.
What are anxious about today?