Be patient therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it, until it receives the early and late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Don’t grumble, brothers, against one another, so that you won’t be judged. Behold, the judge stands at the door. Take, brothers, for an example of suffering and of patience, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we call them blessed who endured. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the Lord in the outcome, and how the Lord is full of compassion and mercy. But above all things, my brothers, don’t swear, neither by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath; but let your “yes” be “yes,” and your “no,” “no”; so that you don’t fall into hypocrisy.
I had the great blessing of parents who insisted on having a garden every year—a great big one. My siblings and I worked that garden too: prepping the soil, plowing, weeding, and harvesting. There’s nothing sweeter than a tomato fresh off the vine that you had a hand in raising. In gardening and in farming, you’ve got to be patient. The seeds don’t come up hours after you throw them in the ground and cover them up. Likewise, God expects patience out of us as Christ followers. We’ve got to keep on doing the things that Christ calls us to do and always remember eternity is coming and that much is certain! That means that our relationships with our other brother and sister Christ followers isn’t marked by grumbling or backstabbing, but instead by patience and truth. We are to simply do what Christ calls us to do and surrender outcomes, being patient that the work Christ began in us will come to fruition.
- In this fast-paced world we find ourselves in, would you describe yourself as patient?
- What can we do on an ongoing basis to establish our hearts?
- Do you grumble against your brothers and sisters?
- When was the last time you read through the prophets and took note of their patience? How often were their words heeded?
- When was the last time you read through Job and all that he encountered?
- No matter what you’re currently going through, do you trust in the Lord to bring you through it and restore you—if not in this life, then in the next?
- Do you swear oaths? Is your conversation as simple as “yes” and “no”?
I’m practicing something right now and I must admit it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Every day, I’m trying to wholly devote my heart to God. I guess, in my own way, that’s my attempt to establish my heart before God. Every day I pray for God’s help and understanding to do this. There aren’t a lot of examples of this in the Bible—David and Jesus being the only real models for it, and for David, he had some stumbling thrown in there. Jesus, on the other hand was perfect… that’s an even tougher model to follow. So, I’m basically making this up as I go with the help of the Father. I’ve asked God to grant me my heart’s desires in return for this commitment. I figure that if my heart’s desires are granted, then I’m on the right track. So far, for the last two weeks that I’ve practiced this discipline, my heart’s desires have not been granted. I’m like the farmer who plants his seed and goes out to the field after the rain, and hopes and prays that something will come up. I’m starting to think that this might be a lifetime pursuit… but I’ll let you know how it’s going if you’re interested. I think it may have been the best decision I’ve ever made.
Father, like the farmer, help me to be “all in” and wholly devoted to you. You’re the only one who can make things grow, who can grant the heart’s desires of men. I realize, as James points out here, that to live this life as a Christ follower, we’ve got to practice a lot of patience. I can’t agree more. Help me to be patient with you and with myself. Plant in me a garden that will spring up to nourish many in this life and into eternity. Amen!