Patience in Suffering
MBC, Small group, September 2, 2012
INTRO – WHAT EVENT ARE YOU PATIENTLY OR IMPATIENTLY WAITING FOR RIGHT NOW?
Our Journey in James is almost complete. Last week, James made us aware of how we use or misuse our money. This week, he starts of with a “therefore”. Whenever we see a “therefore” in Scripture, we need to find out what it is “there for”. Where last week’s lesson focused on the wealthy, this week mostly focuses on those who may have been victims of the wealthy. It also focuses on any of us who have suffered. It focuses on patience.
Patience and suffering frequently go together, so James gives us some admonitions about being patient amidst our suffering.
READ James 5:7-12
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST ABOUT THE LORD’S COMING? No longer struggling with the difficulties of this world, having a more complete understanding of spiritual things, getting to sing in a really big choir, being in the presence of the Lord, other?
HOW DO YOU RELATE TO THE METAPHOR OF THE FARMER WAITING FOR HIS CROPS?
In due time, the rains will come. In the meantime, the farmer can do nothing to hasten or delay the arrival of the rain. He must simply wait for the gift of rain. In the same way, the farmer must wait for the crops to grow. Growth, too, is a gift.
Impatience is characteristic of youth, even impatience to succeed. Even worthy impatience could lead to dead-end short cuts. Neil Diamond, whose performances are almost always sold out, is now 63 and he says that he’s very glad that success did not come to him when he was an ambitious boy of 17 in Brooklyn. He says he doesn’t think that he could have handled it. Diamond said if he’d had his first hit record at the age of 16 or 17 it’s likely he’d have celebrated too hard and too long and probably would not have even been around today. But when this degree of adoration has been earned over a period of decades, maturity helps keep it in perspective. Neil Diamond’s formula for success at whatever, is to love what you’re doing and work hard at it and never, never stop.
WHAT OTHER ILLUSTRATION FOR WAITING PATIENTLY CAN YOU THINK OF THAT RELATES TO YOUR LIFE?
In his book Folk Psalms of Faith, Ray Stedman tells a story of a woman who had been a school teacher for 25 years. When she heard about a job that would mean a promotion, she applied for the position. However, someone who had been teaching for only one year was hired instead. She went to the principal and asked why. The principal responded, “I’m sorry, but you haven’t had 25 years of experience as you claim; you’ve had only one year’s experience 25 times.” During that whole time the teacher had not improved.
The word James uses for patience means to patiently wait. It carries with it the idea of “self restraint” in the face of injustice. The opposite response to such patience would be retaliation or vengeance.
READ Psalm 37:7
HOW CAN YOU APPLY VERSE 9 TO YOUR LIFE (Do not complain about one another, so that you will not be judged)?
Is groaning in the face of suffering appropriate?
READ Romans 8:23
Although Scripture allows for this kind of groaning, James is very clear that we should not groan at one another. While we are waiting, we are not to bicker and find fault. Such grumbling can easily develop in a tough situation in which we cannot vent our frustrations at those causing the problem, so the frustration is directed at others (especially those closest to us).
In our relationships with others, often what passes for love is little more than a neat business transaction. People are kind to us, so we repay them with equal consideration. When they treat us unjustly, our negative response is really what they asked for. Everything is so balanced, so fair, so logical with this eye-for-an-eye and tooth-for-a-tooth kind of justice. But Christian love never settles for only what’s reasonable. It insists on giving mercy as well as justice. It breaks the chain of logical reactions.
General Robert E. Lee was asked what he thought of a fellow officer in the Confederate Army who had made some derogatory remarks about him. Lee rated him as being very satisfactory. The person who asked the question seemed perplexed.
“General,” he said, “I guess you don’t know what he’s been saying about you.”
“I know,” answered Lee. “But I was asked my opinion of him, not his opinion of me!”
HOW DOES THE KNOWLEDGE THAT CHRIST MIGHT RETURN AT ANY TIME AFFECT THE WAY YOU BEHAVE?
WHAT KIND OF BLESSING COMES WITH ENDURING THROUGH SUFFERING?
In one of his recent columns, investigative reporter Jack Anderson discussed how Christianity has survived persecution in the China. He wrote, “Reports seeping out of China indicate that the Christian ‘problem’ has become serious enough to warrant a concerted crackdown by the authorities…. The amazing thing about the crackdown is the evidence it gives that Christianity still survives after more than 80 years of official repression. The regime’s fury is a tribute to the courage and devotion of Christians determined to practice their faith in defiance of the overwhelming power of the hostile rulers. It is a story unmatched since the days of the Roman Empire.
No, nothing can stamp out Christianity. In fact, in times of great persecution, the ballad of martyrs becomes the seed of the church. Therefore, even when we are the targets of animosity and abuse, we can face the future with confidence. We are the winning side; we know that the ultimate triumph will be ours. The church of Jesus Christ, though all hell be loosed upon it, stands sure. Yes, the church is indestructible!
HOW GOOD ARE YOU AT KEEPING YOUR WORD?
Two preachers who didn’t get along very well met on the street. One of them said, “I heard you speak the other night and recognized that sermon — you preached it 14 years ago.” Somewhat chagrined, the other shot back, “I heard you speak just 3 weeks ago, and I can’t remember a word you said!”
A lesson can be drawn from this story. Our lives should be like good sermons, conveying a message that leaves a lasting impression — one that motivates others to godly living. When we’ve finished our course, what will folks recall about us?
Integrity is who you are when no one is looking.
HOW COULD YOU IMPROVE THIS AREA OF YOUR LIFE?
Recently, I saw a cartoon that demonstrated how people don’t like to take responsibility. It was a Peanuts cartoon, and it showed Peppermint Patty talking to Charlie Brown. She said, “Guess what, Chuck. The first day of school, and I got sent to the principal’s office. It was your fault, Chuck.”
He said, “My fault? How could it be my fault? Why do you say everything is my fault?”
She said, “You’re my friend, aren’t you, Chuck? Your should have been a better influence on me.”
Somehow, we think that someone else is responsible.
READ Galatians 6:4
HOW LITERALLY DO YOU THINK CHRISTIANS SHOULD TAKE THE COMMAND IN VERSE 12 TO NOT SWEAR? (Court of law)