The Book of James Bible Study

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James 5

The Trouble with Wealth - James 5:1-6

Hoarding Wealth

Until the Lord's Coming - James 5:7-9

You also be Patient

Patience and Perseverance - James 5:10-11

James and the Sermon on the Mount

James and the Sermon on the Mount

JAMES 5:11: James seems to be remembering the Beatitude given by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:11-12) as he writes. The thought now moves slightly from patience as a nonretaliatory spirit  to patience as steadfast endurance. Patience can be described as passive endurance; by contrast, perseverance is the active determination of a believer whose faith triumphs in the midst of affliction.

Few men, apart from Jesus Christ, were made to be the innocent suffer like Job. He lost his servants, livestock, property, and finally his children in death. Then Job himself was smitten with sore boils from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.

How did Job handle this? Not with patience! But with endurance! The prophet does not extol the patience but righteousness as Job’s qualifying virtue (Ezekiel 14:14, 20). Even in the Book of Job, patience is not one of his outstanding characteristics. For instance, Job betrays his impatience when he curses the day of his birth (Job 3:1) and when he says that the “long-winded speeches” of his three friends never end (Job 16:3). He showed himself to be very human in his feelings of frustrations.

The important point to note, however, is that his basic faith in God did not waver. He never succumbed to his wife's suggestion to "curse God and die" (Job 2:9). He endured incredible suffering, insensitivity from his counselors, and misunderstanding at home, but he continued to trust God through it all. With wife, friends and circumstances against him and seemingly God, Job cried out for answers to his questions, and there was no reply from heaven. Yet, Job endured; he remained steadfast—persevering in faith—that’s what make Job unforgettable!

Few men have spoken such passionate words as he did; but the great fact about him is that in spite of all the agonizing questioning which tore at his heart, he never lost his faith in God. “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face” (Job 13:15). “Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high” (Job 16:19). “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27). Job struggled and questioned, and sometimes even defied, but the flame of his faith was never extinguished.

“You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about,” that is telos, which can mean either "goal, purpose" or "end, result, outcome." The outcome for Job meant great blessing for him and was also a refutation of Satan's accusation. The anguished sufferer learned that "the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful." Even though circumstances seemed exactly opposite to this, Job's endurance enabled him to see that God's blessings were abundant if one was willing to let God choose the time to bestow them. Eventually God doubled Job's possessions and doubled the number of his children, for the original ten were not permanently lost to him and would be restored at the resurrection (Job 42:12-17).

It is always a comfort to feel that others have gone through what we have to go through. Job stands in a long line of men from righteous Abel to Christ to the present who have been attacked by Satan. When Satan attacks us, it is easy for us to get impatient and run ahead of God or from Him and lose the Lord’s blessing as a result.

James reminds his readers that the prophets and the men of God could never have done their work and borne their witness had they not patiently endured. He reminds them that Jesus himself had said that the man who endured to the end was blessed for he would be saved (Matthew 24:13).

If God permitted Satan to take everything Job possessed, if God allowed the rich people to oppress the poor in the days of James, is He at all concerned about man’s lot on earth? Yes, God is concerned about His people; James writes, “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” James alludes to at least two passages (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 103:8). Here James coins a Greek word (polusplagchnos, “full of compassion”) that does not occur anywhere else in the NT. God is more than compassionate: he is filled with compassion. His heart goes out to the person in need of help. What is compassion? It is a feeling; the word is best translated “heart.” Furthermore, compassion is synonymous with mercy. Mercy is God’s external aspect of compassion, touching man with goodness and kindness.

In the midst of affliction, God taught Job not to center his thoughts on himself but his Creator (Job 38:1-42:6). The very purpose of trial, according to James, is that faith in God’s goodness should become stronger and conquer the troubles themselves (James 1:2-4), even up to the coming of the return of Christ (James 5:7-8). Those who are steadfast under affliction until the coming of the Lord can look forward to being blessed like Job.

When do “blessings” come? In the midst of trials we may experience God’s blessings. Job encountered God in the midst of his affliction as did the three Hebrew friends of Daniel in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3). James taught with Job that there is a blessing after we have endured. James’ messages in these two verses is Trust God and keep on patiently enduring, for the Lord is incredibly concerned about you, He will sustain you, and bless you.

My prayer is that you have passed James’ test of Genuine Faith and you have found that your faith works!

Bible Studies by Bob Conway

Unsealing Revelation

Experiencing Exodus

Decoding Daniel

Life and Passion of Christ

The Holy Spirit

How to Study the Bible

Romans Salvation

Life of the Apostle Paul

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