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Long Term Strategic Patience

James 5:7-8
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. (NIVUK)

The Early Church faced many difficulties, including the injustice of rich people, some of them Christians, exploiting the poor (James 5:1-6). The believers needed hope. They needed to know how to be at peace about their constrained circumstances and find the courage to go on. James is realistic: some matters may not get sorted out until we meet the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns. That may be described as an ultimate long-term strategy, but it is essential practical strategy to put the joys and sorrows of each day into an eternal perspective (1 John 3:2).

We live between the cross and return of Jesus as Lord over all (Romans 10:12). On that Day He will set every record straight and reward all who patiently wait for Him. In the same way that the cross is our reference point for forgiveness, the Second Coming of Christ is the goal to which all our hopes and efforts should be directed. Not only will Jesus be united with His Bride the Church, in joy and eternal satisfaction (Revelation 22:2-4). That will also be the day of our lifetime's assessment/appraisal (Romans 14:12). No wonder that James wanted the churches to understand clearly.

In our 'instant' age, nobody likes to wait (Western style credit cards are one example). But it is not like that for the farmer who must wait for his crops to germinate, develop and then mature, before he can get any income at all. He cannot accelerate the growing/maturing process, except to allow the rain to reach the plants and give it time. He has to wait. And there is a significant time delay between the investment (of seed, and the labour that goes into soil preparation and sowing) and the mature crop. Farmers around the world still carry this responsibility of an unguaranteed investment - and for some, crop failure can be catastrophic for the welfare of family, business, tribe or country. Christians need that same God-inspired patience (Hebrews 10:36).

The Christian can be 100% confident that the Lord will return (Acts 1:11); and after He does, the painfully disturbed nature of this sin-parched world will never trouble the Christian again (Revelation 21:3-4). So, 'patient waiting' is the rule for every Christian - although waiting is not to be passive, but active. Jesus told a story in Luke 19:11-27: He made the point that those servants who believed their master would return, were eager to engage in his business; but the lazy one had no such confidence and did nothing with the money he was told to invest. The farmer in today's verse plays his small part, although he recognises that the timing and value of the harvest is out of his hands (a useful note for elders, evangelists and pastors!). So, are you waiting expectantly for the return of Jesus? If so, are you getting on with His business in a way that He will approve?

Dear Lord. Thank You for this reminder that the return of Jesus should shape my long term life-strategy. Forgive me for my proud self-confidence, or my despair as I struggle with short term goals. Help me to do my work today with the thought of meeting Jesus when He returns, and giving Him an account of how I have spent the years He has given me. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams