Summary: We must be patient in everything as we anticipate Christ's return if we want to be mature.


James 5:7-12

There are certain things in life I cannot live without. My computer is one of them. And of course I need to have internet access. Because what’s the first thing I do when I get up? Check my email and see if I have any messages. Especially with the time difference because a lot of them come during the night. Remember Tokyo is 15 hours ahead of Dallas. And so I can’t wait to see who emailed me during the night. And of course I need my computer with internet access during the day because there is someone I chat with in Bangkok. Bangkok is 2 hours behind Tokyo. I was sharing with some friends in an email about my summer in Korea 20 years ago. It was exactly 20 years ago and these friends were supporters. We didn’t have cellfones and internet then. There was fax. But if we really wanted to communicate it was make an overseas fone call or write a letter. I remember a missionary friend in Baltimore writing me to tell me she was praying me. It took the letter about 7 days to get from Baltimore, Maryland to Taegu, South Korea. Give me a day or 2 to answer it and it’s another 7 days to Baltimore. Give her a day or 2 or longer to answer it and it’s another 7 days to Korea. So you see how long it takes. Of course now I hardly every write letters. I just send an email and often I might here back immediately. Imagine if I was having to do that with my friend in Bangkok.

The other night I was working on my computer, and I was trying to go to another website. It was slow. It was awfully, awfully slow. I’ve said that if you’ve seen a slow computer, you haven’t seen a slow computer until you’ve seen mine. Sometimes it is just so slow. Or other times it freezes up on me. There are certain things that are trying on my patience but I don’t think there is anything as trying on my patience as a slow computer. And after several minutes I lose the battle with patience and hit my on off switch to turn my computer off without taking the time to reboot. I don’t want to wait any longer. There is no reason for it to be so slow. Only problem is I need to start it up again and I still have to wait for it to start up. Can’t win, can I?

Life is often about waiting. Take a farmer for example. He plants and waters. Does he see his crop come up right away? No, he doesn’t. Does that mean he quits? No, it doesn’t. He waters, cultivates and waits for his crop to come up. He is patient.

James is going to talk about patience today. We are going to see 2 kinds of patience; patience in circumstances and patience in suffering. Both are necessary if we want to be mature. You keep hearing that a lot, don’t you? And you wish I’d preach something else, don’t you? Gomennasai, I’m not going to do it. But remember, if you want to be mature there are no shortcuts. It takes patience. But if you want to be mature, you are at the right place.

What are we to do in circumstances where we are forced to wait? Someone said that life is not so much about reaping rewards, it’s about sowing and cultivating. Let’s look at the example of the farmer in verse 7. And notice that while James was pretty harsh in the last message, he returns to his soft way of encouraging. Instead of condemnation, we see consolation. He uses the term “brethren” again. Last time we didn’t see him use it at all.

James 5:7 ¶ Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.

Go back with me 2000 years. What was everyone expecting? They were expecting Jesus to return. There was that imminency, the sense of expectation that He could return at any moment. Do we still have that expectation today? We are to be patient, wait and keep on doing good. I don’t think this means we can sit back and do nothing.

Have any of you ever been on a farm before? Have you ever worked on a farm before? Maybe we should go out to Narita and visit one of the rice farmers who love Narita Airport. I’ve never planted rice before, but I have planted flowers, fruits and vegetables. And you know that I don’t see my crop 30 minutes after planting them. I helped a friend plant bulbs once, and I decided to try it in my garden. She let me borrow her tools and I bought some bulbs and planted them. You need to plant them about 12 inches deep. She told me approximately how long it would take for me to see them sprout. I planted them and every day I watered them, and looked at them closely to see if anything had sprouted up. Finally I noticed something coming out of the ground. I was excited. Same with the farmer. He has to wait.

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