As promised, here is the final piece of our study in James: "Faith For Real." I encourage you to read this with your Bible open to James 5. Make your own notes and feel free to e-mail or message me with any questions that you might have. Remember: Pastor James is teaching his flock what to do in the midst of their great trials and persecution. So, watch for the commands and bullet points of action that evidence their real and genuine faith even in the midst of great suffering and conflict.
Waiting in Silence: Verse 9
James is once again commanding his parishioners and this time he’s ordering them to be quiet. Back in verse 8, he was commanding them stop murmuring — literally to cease their grumbling. The tense of the verb indicates that they’re currently grumbling or are to immediately stop their activity. The word “complaining” in the New American Standard Version is actually a word for an “internal grumbling.” It’s not the external complaining that is being addressed here by James, but rather the attitude and focus of the heart. It is a sigh or a groan or a moan when someone near you does something that you can not tolerate. James desperately wants the believers to stop grumbling against one another.
Matthew Henry’s commentary puts it this way:
Let your patience be lengthened out to long suffering,” so the word here used, makrothymesate, signifies. When we have done our work, we have need of patience to stay for our reward. This Christian patience is not a mere yielding to necessity, as the moral patience taught by some philosophers was, but it is a humble acquiescence in the wisdom and will of God, with an eye to a future glorious recompense: Be patient to the coming of the Lord. And because this is a lesson Christians must learn, though ever so hard or difficult to the, it is repeated in verse 8, Be you also patient.”
James is encouraging his parishioners to follow the great examples of the prophets and, specifically, the example of Job.
In the Old Testament days of Job, the prophets would hear a message from God and then carry it to the people. Then, they had to wait for the Lord to fulfill that Word. They had to wait with patience, endurance, expectancy, silence and — ultimately — with much perseverance. The prophets had to live out their faith by waiting and believing. Jonah is a good example of a struggling prophet who was not willing to endure and persevere. In fact, he didn’t wait in silence for God’s final choice with the Ninevites. He grumbled about God’s choice. He was waiting for God to keep His Word, but when the nation repented and God’s plan changed, Jonah became angry. He wasn’t resting in the sovereignty of the Lord. Jonah egotistically wanted his name as a prophet to be honored, rather than wanting God’s name to be revered, exalted and honored. A true prophet of God would have waited in silence and rested in God’s assurance and sovereignty.
Job’s perseverance is also a critical point to address in this text. Job didn’t wait perfectly.
“Then Job responded, “Truly then you are the people, and with you wisdom will die! But I have intelligence as well as you; I am not inferior to you. And who does not know such things as these? I am a joke to my friends. The one who called on God, and He answered him; the just and blameless man is a joke.” -- Job 12:1-4 (NAS)
“Behold, my eye has seen all this. My ear has heard and understood it. What you know I also know. I am not inferior to you. But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue with God. But you smear with lies; you are all worthless physicians. O that you would be completely silent, and that it would become your wisdom!” — Job 13:1-5 (NAS)
Job’s friends are pitiful comforters.
“Then Job answered, “I have heard many such things; Sorry comforters are you all. Is there no limit to windy words? Or what plagues you that you answer? I too could speak like you, if I were in your place. I could compose words against you, and shake my head at you. I could strengthen you with my mouth, and the solace of my lips could lessen your pain.” - Job 16:1-5 (NAS)
A battle for truth was waging war within Job’s head and his heart.
“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.” - Job 13:15 (NAS)
But, he did ultimately persevere. Whenever it was time to make a decision about God, Job always yielded to the will and sovereign rule of God.
This is a great picture of the conflict of all ages: God vs. Satan:
“While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died; and I alone have escaped to tell you.” Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Through all of this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” — Job 1:18-22 (NAS)
To his cursing wife:
“Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” - Job 2:9-10 (NAS)
To his confused and accusing friends:
“Pity me, pity me, O you as my friends, for the hand of God has struck me. Why do you persecute me as God does, and are not satisfied with my flesh? Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! That with an iron stylus and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes shall see and not another. My heart faints within me.” - Job 19:21-27 (NAS)
To his Lord:
“Then Job answered the Lord, and said, “I know that Thou cans’t do all things, and that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have declared that which I do not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask Thee, and do Thou instruct me. I have heard of Thee by hearing of the ear; but now my eyes see Thee; Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” - Job 42:1-6 (NAS)
So what are we to strive for? Sinless perfection? No. Job was one of the most righteous men of the Old Testament and he still wrestled within his soul, heart and mind and struggled with suffering. However, he always affirmed God’s sovereignty and rulership. He always maintained a perspective that declared: “God is in charge!”
Our goal — during and after the striving — is to follow Job’s example. Affirm God’s sovereignty and affirm His rulership.