Online Bible Commentary
Establish Your Heart
James 5:7 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. 8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! 10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord--that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. 12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your "Yes," be "Yes," and your "No," "No," lest you fall into judgment. (NKJV)
In the preceding passage James condemns the rich who make dishonest gain on the backs of the poor. Now he addresses the poor with words of comfort. His letter is written to Christian Jews who have been dispersed from Jerusalem. They were, and continue to be, persecuted. He exhorts them to be patient for the coming judgment of the Lord, when the evil will be judged and Christians will be rewarded for the good they have done on earth.
James encourages the “brethren”, his brothers and sisters in Christ, Christians, to “be patient” until the “coming of the Lord”, a reference to the rapture (v. 7). He compares the plight of Christians to that of the “farmer” (v. 7b).
The farmer learns patience from having to play the waiting game. First he waits for the spring rains to soften the soil for planting. Then he waits for the autumn rains to bring the crop to fruition (v. 7c). Through it all he learns patience, and dependence on God.
James encourages Christians to be like the farmer, to be patient (v. 8a). He calls for us to “Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (v.8b). This is a call to remain strong in the faith. The term “at hand” is used often in the Bible to mean that the Lord could come at any time.
As we wait, we are not to “grumble against one another” (v. 9a). This means we should not judge one another in our frustration. Only the Lord is allowed to judge and we should not judge lest we also will be judged, and “condemned” (v. 9b). “Behold, the Judge”, Christ, “is standing at the door” (v. 9c), ready to judge us.
James makes reference to “the prophets” “as an example of suffering and patience” (v. 10), perhaps referring to the likes of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel. These prophets endured suffering and had to be patient as they waited on the Lord. In the end, they were blessed for their endurance in the faith.
Another who was “blessed” (v. 11a) for enduring, was Job. James cites the “perseverance of Job” (v. 11b) as an example of patience. Job lost everything, his children and his wealth, all in one day. He then faced health issues over a period of time. He waited patiently, and never cursed God, even though his wife told him to curse God and die and his advisors accused him of being unfaithful to his Lord.
But Job knew better. He patiently endured in his faith and was rewarded by God with “the end intended by the Lord--that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (v. 11c). The “end intended by the Lord” was that Job was blessed with twice as much as he had in the beginning, if you count the children he had waiting for him in Heaven.
“Above all”, we “should not swear” (v. 12a). No matter how frustrated we are, it is a sin to take the Lord’s name in vain. Job was a wonderful example for us to follow in that regard.
Nor should we resort to “oath” making (v. 12b). Oath-making was common in the Jewish culture. The only oath we should make is one that is made to God. Finally, in all matters we should be honest. You should “let your ‘Yes,’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No,’ (v. 12c).
So James has given us the formula for having patience in the midst of trials. We all go through trials in life. They are God’s way of testing us. He wants to see who is serious about their faith. He wants to see if we will remain faithful when the heat is on. Job passed the test. So did the prophets. Their faith endured to the end.
We face the same challenge. Will we endure or will we abandon the faith when things get tough? It is not a matter of “if”, but “when.” Things will get tough. It is only a matter of time. Will you be patient? Will you establish your heart?.