“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.”
James now transitions from the subject of judgment to consolation. His readers were under severe duress from financial abuse, so he appeals to the comfort of the coming of Christ.
The “therefore” here is an inference, “Because of the injustice done against you by your employers, take heed to the following commands. Don’t take things into your own hands. Operate on God’s principles for addressing injustice.”
We now come to the first of four commands addressed to those oppressed by financial circumstances:
1) Be patient because the Lord will ultimately deal with your circumstances (5:7),
2) Strengthen your hearts because of the Lord’s imminent coming (5:8),
3) Do not complain but look to true justice from the true Judge (5:9-11),
4) Guard your integrity by what you say (5:12).
James also gives three examples of people with patience:
1) Patience of the farmer who waits for his crop to mature (5:7),
2) Patience of the prophets under persecution (5:10) and
3) Patience of Job in trial (5:11).
The proper attitude in persecution is a “patient” orientation to those who wrong us. The word “patient” comes from a Greek word composed of two words: long and temper or anger. A person of “patience” is long-tempered, long-angered. He can bear with others in their foibles.
“Patience” is a quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation. A person with this characteristic will not retaliate; he will not punish others for wrongs done to him. It is the opposite of anger. He also carries a component of mercy (Ex 34:6; 1 Pe 3:20). Even God allows men to resist Him (Ro 2:4).
1 Co 13:3, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up…”
Another Greek word for “patient” occurs in 1:3-4, where the idea is to endure difficult circumstances. We need both patience with circumstances and patience with people. No matter how difficult their situation, James exhorts his readers to hang in there with people and circumstances.
Our incentive to be patient with people is that we know that a just Judge is coming.
We need patience with people, patience with our family and friends, and finally, patience at work. We should be careful about taking negative situations into our own hands. There is a place where we leave it in the hands of the Lord.
Ps 37:7, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.”
Many of us are short-tempered, not long-tempered. God expects us to hold self-restraint against people who do us wrong. We will not hastily retaliate when others violate our space. Chrysostom defined patience as the spirit that has the ability to take revenge but utterly refuses to do so.