Longanimity. I’ve never come across the word before, until this morning. Used in one of my online lexicons to give the sense of a word found in one of my readings this morning. A 15th century English word which once served to describe what James had in mind when he encouraged his readers to “be patient.”
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. . . . You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. . . . behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
(James 5:7-9 ESV)
Be patient. Be of a long spirit. Do not lose heart. Keep on keepin’ on, despite trials and suffering. Show longanimity.
Patience. Longsuffering. We might be able to muster up some of it in certain trials, but the extraordinary calm that James is talking about here is something that transcends mere human determination or discipline through prolonged seasons of taking it in the teeth. It’s evidence of the Spirit’s active agency in someone’s life (Gal. 5:22).
And what’s of particular note for me this morning is the catalyst that primes the pump from which flows rivers of Living Water (John 7:38-39) which enables us to hang in there during times of trouble. That catalyst for patience? The coming of the Lord.
Three times James makes reference to the imminent return of the Lord Jesus. Not only did James say He was coming back, but that His coming was “at hand”, and that He, who would judge all things and make all things right, was “standing at the door.” And that heavenly perspective, evidently, can have a profound impact on a believer’s earthly endurance.
Since the day He left, Jesus’ follower have lived with the expectation of His return.
And when [Jesus] had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:9-11 ESV)
They believed He could be back in their lifetime. They really thought He’d be back at anytime.
That’s how Jesus set them up to live. Before He left, Jesus told His followers to be ready, and to live with the anticipation that the Master would return on a day when they did not expect Him and at an hour they did not know (Matt. 24:44, 500).
And they believed Him. As such, their faith would fuel their longanimity. The promise of His return, at any moment, could produce a patient that would sustain them for a lifetime.
We are to be longsuffering. Just as He is longsuffering. While it might seem He is slow to fulfill His promised return, He delays “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2Pet. 3:9). His grace continuing to call the lost to Himself. His grace continuing to sustain the found until He comes again. Be patient.
Jesus is coming again. His coming is at hand. He stands at the door.
Perhaps today the door will swing open and the Master will return.
As the Bride who looks longingly for her Bridegroom says, “Come!” . . . through the power of the indwelling Spirit who says, “Come!” (Rev. 22:17) . . . be patient.
By His grace. For His glory.