The “brothers” thrice addressed in James 5:7-12 are the righteous poor of James 5:1-6 — that’s what the “therefore” is there for in verse 7.
They are James’ fellow believers who have been defrauded by the rich who have withheld their fairly earned wages. They are the harvesters who have cried out against those who, at the expense of their workers, have lived in luxury and in self-indulgence on earth. They are the children of God whose cries, as James reminds them, have also been heard by the Lord of hosts in heaven. They are those unable to stand against the oppressive elite, yet called to stand firm in their faith.
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
(James 5:7-8 ESV)
Be patient. That’s the command to obey in this passage. Be patient.
Be of a long spirit. Don’t lose heart. Bravely persevere. Keep on keepin’ on.
Establish your hearts. Stabilize your emotions. Firmly set your mind. Constantly fix your gaze. Lock on your source of hope.
I’ve never been a laborer in the field. Well, actually I have . . . one summer after high school . . . sorry to the owner who thought we were burning down his hay barn . . . but I digress.
Never had wages unjustly withheld by a greedy boss. Never been overtly oppressed or defrauded or taken advantage of to the point where it impacted the ability to feed my family. But, have I known circumstance which seemed overwhelming? Encountered what I thought were no win situations with no way out? Grown weary? Been discouraged? Thought that the Elijah plan of retreating to a cave and curling up in a fetal position made sense? Hmmm . . . maybe. Who hasn’t to some degree or another?
And so, for the weary pilgrim, for the guy who’s been dealt a bad hand, for the gal who’s been served up lemons for way too long and is tired of trying to make lemonade, the indwelling Spirit says through the living word, don’t lose heart. And how come?
. . . for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Sometimes you need to focus afresh on the long game in order to stay in the game. You need to be reminded of the destination in order to continue to endure the journey. See a glimpse of the prize to keep running the race.
The Lord is coming, so we keep going. His promises are sure–and so, with holy determination and Holy Spirit enabling, we press on steadfastly.
We commit again and move forward, if only feebly, and the Lord is compassionate and shows mercy (5:11b). We persevere patiently, and He remains faithful. And we keep on keepin’ on, because Jesus, perhaps soon and very soon, is coming back.
And it’s gonna be worth it all.
By His grace. For His glory.