Verse of the Day Devotion: James 5:8
“You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.” – James 5:8.
James in this passage is exhorting Christians to be patient for the coming of the Lord is near. He starts off by using the example of a farmer “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.” James 5:7. The farmer who prepares a field sows some seed and then waits for the crop to grow. He can do little to affect the speed at which the plants will grow, but what he can do is be patient and pray, waiting for the rain to come at the right time. This was especially important in Palestine for the farmer was dependent on the rain that came in late autumn and early spring. As is said in Deuteronomy. “It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.” Deuteronomy 11:13-15.
Now, James is saying that as the farmer trusts in the Lord to give the rain at the right times to produce a good harvest, so should we trust God and patiently wait for the Lord to return as promised. We are to stand strong and not give up hope no matter how difficult life gets. Douglas J. Moo in his commentary puts it this way. “What is commanded, then, is firm adherence to the faith in the midst of temptations and trials. As they wait patiently for the Lord to return, believers need to fortify themselves for the struggle against sin and with difficult circumstances.”
Many struggles with the idea of His return as being near or soon. See the wording in our focus verse. “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.” James 5:8. The word ‘near’ is a relative term. A couple of examples is “evening is near therefore we shall soon go to sleep. Or, my birthday is near, it is only a month away. What we must understand is that ‘near’ is within the context of salvation history, which refers to the period from the death and resurrection of Christ to our own day. Do we know the exact time, no we do not. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Matthew 24:36. But what we do know is that He will return. In the book of Acts we read what the angels spoke regarding His return. “They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11.
In closing, we do not know when Christ will return. According to Jesus, even He does not know when it will occur, only the Father knows. But what we do know is He will return. We as Christians need to wait patiently for Him, and in the meantime do the work God has called us to do. We should continue to give our whole life to His service, showing the love of Christ through the lives we live to everyone He brings our way: which includes spreading the truth of the gospel to all who do not know, and encouraging and supporting our brothers and sisters in Christ.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.