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. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:7-9)
We believe that Jesus is coming again. That’s been the hope of the Church since Bible times. But when we take our eyes off the hope, then it’s easy for crummy attitudes to slither in. Today’s opening passage warns that when we are indifferent to Jesus’ coming our grumbling increases.
That’s why Scripture often reminds us that the Kingdom is not far away — indeed, Jesus said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2 ESV).
It’s been 2000 years since today’s opening verses were written and Jesus is still standing at the door. Does that seem like an overly long time to be waiting? Well, we need to think of God’s time scale: What is 2000 years compared to eternity?
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9)
Note that we have two passages today that use the word “patient,” but in two separate ways. The first passage is how we need to be patient and the second is how the Lord himself is patient.
God is patient because he wants to give us time to repent of crummy attitudes. And since God is so patient with us, he asks that we echo his patience by being patient with each other. But if we impatiently whine and complain about each other, we test God’s patience with us.
As we learn to be as patient with each other as God is with us, then our worry about the warning of judgment fades. Instead, our love for each other increases as our grumbling about each other decreases. We flourish as a church and look forward to Christ’s return with hope and not fear.