Therefore be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brothers and sisters, against one another, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. As an example, brothers and sisters, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. But above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you do not fall under judgment.
James 5:7-12

A great portion of James’ letter is about how we interact with one another as believers. He spends chapter 3 talking about how the words we use matter and chapter 4 begins with a discussion of the origins of conflict within the church. That continues in the passage above.

When one believer goes after another to justify himself, this brings judgement on the one who complains. He is not one who seeks to right a wrong but to put his own needs above another. Further, if there is such mistrust among believers that one cannot be taken at his word, the one who swears an oath will also be judged. Oaths are not taken among people who are always honest.

These kinds of attitudes and conflicts arise as a result of impatience. Like a farmer waiting on a crop, James says, we are to understand the times and stages of situations so that we can think about the appropriate action to take. Rather than rush the harvest, we wait and tend the fields together.

So the next time you feel a conflict arising, reflect on James’ counsel. Is this a conflict that comes from my own selfish impatience? If so, be like a farmer and wait.

Ethan Kirl

Originally Published February 4, 2021