Jas 5:5-8 “Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”
The first verses of this chapter are an admonition to “rich men;” those who do not recognize the will of God in their lives. He continues to describe the attitude and behavior of those who do not consider their need of God. When we fail to look to Him, we live in earthly pleasures and indulge ourselves without shame. This is not just about what the world would call lewd living.
When Jesus talked about those that sounded a trumpet and did their alms before men, he was describing men who are living wantonly. They seek for and receive the adoration of men: Jesus says they have their reward. Rather than seeking to honor God, they have fattened their hearts as in a day of butchery. They have fattened themselves in their own eyes by slaughtering the true worship of God and making it about men.
Men who trust in their own strength judge and murder the innocent. They do not give solace to God’s people and do not honor God. Even though they wrongly accuse and slay the just, the just do not resist them. When our hope is in the Lord, we do not fight back with carnal weapons of malice and the practice of one-upmanship. We trust in the power and grace of God, our Saviour.
We can trust in Him because He has assured us of His coming. He has promised us that He would take up His abode in our hearts. We bear with patience because we know that God’s word is true and we wait for His coming. While it is comforting to think about His coming in the end of time, how much more glorious is it to realize that He comes to us in our time of trouble: He is an ever present help!
While the rich man has lived in pleasure on the earth, the husbandman who labors in the field waits patiently for the fruit of the earth. The pleasure of the rich man is sensual and will not last. When we wait patiently upon the Lord, we reap the precious fruit of the earth. We are partakers of that which comes outward (the light shined out of darkness) rather than taking pleasure in those things that are external.
Like the farmer, we wait for things in due season. We understand that we must have early rain: there must be moisture in the soil for the seed to germinate. We also understand that we must have the later rain: there must be rain if there is to be a harvest of fruit. As a good farmer, we must be patient and wait on the Lord. We fix our hearts upon Him according to the leadership of His Holy Spirit. We wait in the assurance that His coming draws near every time we need Him.
May we, like Moses, walk by faith and prefer to suffer affliction with the people of God (Heb 11:25) rather than have a short season of being rich in the things of this world!