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patience Uncategorized

Be Patient!

Neal Pollard

In James 5:7, James gives us some specific instructions concerning being patient. It is said as a response to those whose patience was being inflamed by the sinful actions of those in James 5:1-6. In just a few words, James has some pretty exhaustive instruction.

He addresses the who—“Be patient brethren.” There’s an ethic and morality expected of those in God’s family that is more than for everyone else.  Almost every use of the word “brethren” in the New Testament is addressed to Christians. As light-shiners and salt-spreaders, we must exhibit patience with others and especially other Christians.

He addresses the when—This command has a duration (an expiration date)—“Until the coming of the Lord.” How long are we to remember Christ in the Lord’s Supper? 1 Corinthians 11:26 says, “Until He comes.” How long was Thyatira to hold onto what they had? Revelation 2:25 says, “Until Jesus would come.” How long was Corinth to refrain from unrighteously judging one another? 1 Corinthians 4:5 says, “Until the Lord comes. You don’t encounter this phrase very often, but every time it regards a matter of significance.  There will not come a point in time when you can cease being patient—it’s as long as you live or until Christ comes again, whichever comes first.

He addresses the howYou’ve got to strengthen your heart (be inwardly committed, cause to be more firm in attitude or belief).  James is saying, “Steel yourself because this is going to get hard sometimes.” When I think of people who have fallen away from the Lord, I think of conversations with people who say they gave up on the church or the elders or the preacher. They weren’t responsive enough, caring enough, or too nosy or not what they needed when they needed it.  But ultimately this means these fallen ones weren’t firm and unchanging within.

He addresses the why“The coming of the Lord is near.” Don’t focus on a time element here, but on the need to endure for as long as the time is. It’s constantly drawing nearer, not in a chronological sense, but an expectation and assurance that we expect it any time. I don’t want to be caught living in a state of impatience with my brethren. If I am, it means I’ve lost focus on Christ’s second coming!

I need to be convicted that impatience is not “no big deal.” James ties it to spiritual harmony, divine superintendence, and eternal safety. We can’t chalk up failure in this area as just our makeup, personality, and temperament. We must be obedient to the heavenly injunction and “be patient”!

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patience perseverance Uncategorized

THE PATIENCE OF A FARMER 

Neal Pollard

James uses a variety of examples throughout his short epistle. In James 5:7-8, he writes, “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.” As we analyze these verses, we see at least three things.

Patience instructed.  It’s interesting that James is urging us to be patient with each other as fellow Christians. Just read the rest of the chapter and it reads like an instruction manual for dealing with the internal problems we can have as a congregation of God’s people. This patience has a duration—until the coming of the Lord. Stay patient as long as you live or until Christ comes again, whichever comes first.

Patience illustrated. Patience is illustrated by the farmer. Notice:

  • The farmer waits. Patience almost always involves waiting. Delayed gratification without the delay is something completely different. Sometimes waiting is necessary and it helps us develop character, if we let it.  We have to fight that part of human nature that makes us impatient. These brethren in verse seven were being mistreated by rich, unfair brethren, and it apparently was hard on them to wait for justice to be served. But James says, “You just need to wait. God will ultimately make things right.” That is sage counsel for us in so many areas of life, to “hang on and let God work in His time.”
  • The farmer waits for the harvest. When you put seed in the ground, you’re still a long way from harvest. Different crops take a different amount of time to come to fruition. Different conditions, like weather, effect the time of harvest. But harvest is always the goal. Why do you keep planting seed, the seed of Scripture in the fields of evangelism or the seed of service in others’ lives or the seed of spiritual fruit in sometimes infertile fields? Because harvest time is coming and the Lord will sort things out then (Mat. 13:30, 39).
  • The farmer waits for what brings harvest. There are necessary conditions. James mentions the early and latter rains. In Palestine, farmers counted on the autumn and spring rains. Both were essential. There are going to be necessary conditions throughout our Christian lives. In the short-term and long-term, we will endure and experience things that help get us to harvest.  See the blessings and the challenges of life as necessities which can help us go to heaven.

Patience imitated. James says, “You also be patient.” He says for Christians to be like those farmers.  How? “Establish your hearts.” James focuses on the heart throughout this short epistle. Deception (1:26), jealousy and selfish ambition (3:14), impurity (4:8), and worldly pleasure (5:5) fattened and sickened their hearts. James is still working on their hearts at the end and connects patience with spiritual heart health.  Why? “The coming of the Lord is at hand.” The harvest idea is wonderful for those who are prepared, but if we allow our hearts to stray and lose patience, the Lord’s coming won’t be a joyful occasion for us. Be ready for harvest by being patient whatever adversity arises.

If you are struggling with patience, look at the farmer. Both my grandfathers farmed, my mom’s dad for a living. They had to persevere. There are bumper crops and there are droughts. You keep farming whatever the conditions. Let’s approach the most important harvest with the same determination!

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patience self-control Uncategorized

INSTANT GRATIFICATION

Neal Pollard

I am probably one of the few fans in “Bulldog Nation” unhappy with the firing of Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt.  It’s not primarily because I believe him to be the most decent, devout role models in all of coaching, though that it significant. It’s because of why he was fired. He leaves as the second winningest coach in Georgia history, winning nearly three-fourths of the games he coached, taking the team to a bowl game every year of his tenure, and getting them within 10 seconds of playing for the National Championship just three years ago.  However, he had not ever led the Dawgs to hoist the big trophy and lost some “spotlight games.”  Angry fans can produce some statistics that show perceived shortcomings, but fans of most all other college programs (minus your Alabamas, Ohio States, LSUs, and a very short list of others) would gladly trade for the success Mr. Richt brought so far in the 21st Century.

Certainly, many of you would rightly point out how relatively trivial sports are and how inordinately its fanatics obsess and exude over it. But, as that fanbase represent a significant part of our current culture, observing their mindset and worldview helps us understand a lot of other things going on in this culture.  It is seen in the way we spend money and accumulate material things.  It is seen in the impatience and impulse in relationships that leads to wrongs from sexual immorality to divorce. It is even seen in the road rage that comes when we feel somebody is slowing us down or keeping us from getting to our destination as quickly as we possibly can.  No doubt, you could help me build an impressive list of other ways society is bent on the instant gratification of its wants and longings.

It Is significant to read about how God wants His people to behave.  I cannot imagine He cares about who coaches what team except when passion turns to sinful words and actions.  But, in a general way, He has spoken in His Word about the mindset Christians should adopt in every circumstance of life.  He commands His people to be patient in this life, when dealing with everyone in this life (1 Th. 5:14) and when living in view of the end (Js. 5:7-8). In fact, Paul tells the Colossian Christians, “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12). Reconcile that with a spirit of impatience that demands its wants and wishes immediately. We must be careful to incorporate principles that show a self-disciplined life like Paul’s who could be content whatever the circumstances (Phil. 4:11-12).

I’m not worried about Coach Richt and I’m still a UGA fan. I know that weight rooms, stadiums, and memorabilia will be in the big bonfire at the end of time.  What we all need in our lives is a spirit that clearly demonstrates to the world what Christlike patience, endurance, and self-control looks like in our daily dealings!

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