One sin leads into another but we serve a Merciful God
The Apostle James starts out in this particular passage by writing the hire of your laborers who have reaped down your fields. Of course he is speaking in farming language because that was a popular profession in the first century. This was a bad thing because they were not reaping up the fields but this whole thing was kept back by fraud. There was a cry and anytime this happens one group is making a lot of money at the expense of another group of people that were being cheated.
I was always weary of big money being made to the point where it is being thrown around as common practice while other people in the same society are barely able to put food on the table. In our country back in the 1950's no big money was made from the average person you would see but everybody worked and our nation was not in debt. The basic tone was work hard, be honest and watch our land grow. Now it is work hard, make money at another person's expense and watch our country go deeper into financial bondage because we owe so many people so much money. In this passage this mentality reached the ears of the Lord of the sab'a-oth. They lived in pleasure on this earth but always desired more so they were nourishing their hearts with the riches of this world. They had a spirit of self indulgence.
The reason they took this greed one step deeper is because the heart can never be satisfied with wealth if Jesus Christ is not in the center of their lives. They were never able to answer the question, "How much is enough?" The answer is it is never enough because these people were apart from God. Since it is never enough in this particular case they condemned and killed the just and righteous. Of course God was against them as they took their sin one step deeper against innocent people. We are at present living in the Laodicean church age and this is happening in most parts of the world.
The Apostle James encourages us to be patient unto the coming of the Lord. He then gets a little poetic by writing the husbandman waits for the precious fruit of the earth and has been very patient until the early and latter rain. Once again farming language is used because the readers were able to relate to this writing as they themselves were farmers.
This was the way James was also able to get down to their level and urge fellow believers in Jesus Christ to be patient and stablish their hearts for the coming of the Lord because it is drawing closer and closer everyday. The truth or reminder was for the purpose of strengthening their hearts because even as we watch for the rapture of the church we become stronger if we look for the return of Jesus Christ in the proper biblical manner for our lives. There are two extremes in Christianity which would be those that never look for the Blessed Hope or those that constantly set dates. God wants us right in the middle.
The Apostle James then goes into a different subject by writing grudge not one against another lest you be condemned but once again James reminds them that the real judge is Jesus Christ, ... "The judge standeth before the door." Complaining would probably be a minor word for holding grudges but this emotion would be in the general family of this subject.
James then goes back to the Old Testament and explains that the prophets spoke in the name of the Lord for an example of suffering affliction and patience.
In verse eleven the author writes we count the happy who endure by going specifically to the patience of Job. The Apostle James reminds them of a very precious truth to believers in Jesus Christ that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy. Let me just quote the original text so you can read the passage and perhaps make reference to it in this particular study of the Bible.
(4) "Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sab'a-oth. (5) Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. (6) Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. (7) 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. (8) Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth near. (9) Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. (10) Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. (11) Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy." James 5:4 - 11.
What are the sins James is talking about that bring such misery to the soul? One sin would be covetousness. We are supposed to be thankful for whatever we have but hoarding up for ourselves apart from God is a transgression against Him. Storing up a little extra food and money is biblical in case an emergency happens unless God specifically tells us to do otherwise. If the latter occurs then God is in essence saying I just want you to trust Me. The first could not possibly be wrong because Joseph and Noah were commanded by God to engage in saving food because He Himself told them that very tough times were coming on the earth.
James was talking about a very different group of people. The Apostle was talking about those people that get wealth in their hands with power and have no regard for God. At this point they are very tempted to abuse their position and oppress those that are under them especially Christians in this particular biblical context.
Other sins that James talks about is sensuality and voluptuousness. Pleasure within the boundaries of God is fine but if this is all we are living for then that is a transgression against God. These people nourished their hearts which was the Apostle's way of saying that Jesus Christ was not in their lives and they were just enjoying parts of the Creation of God and falling into sin. If our God is our belly and we are not responding in ways of love then pride and being lazy will be a way of life.
This is sad to say but they went to the next step of depravity. This sin is persecution. At this point the degree of iniquity in their hearts was really high. This was not just one individual but a group. Imagine that because they were all at the same level of rebellion against God. They did not just get there because one sin leads into another and these people (group) did not serve a merciful God because when people serve the devil he even hates them and if they did not truly repent I can guarantee you no love or mercy is being given to them in Hades. More than likely the people that suffered the persecution did not resist the unjust sentence of their oppressors. I do not think it is pretty hard to figure out who was rewarded in heaven and who was punished in hell.
Verse eight talks about us being patient for the coming of the Lord. In a round about way the Apostle James is saying Jesus may not come when you think He might. In fact the Bible says He is coming at a time when you think not so as we are doing our work for the Kingdom of God be patient because God does not desire that even one person perish. Having this attitude is a humble acknowledgement to the wisdom and timing of God which of course is His will. In verse eight it says stablish your hearts so our faith has to be firm in Jesus Christ, the practice of good continued, our resolutions for God fixed and this is all in spite of temptations and sufferings. If Jesus Christ has not come and we are still here then this is the will of God for our lives. In this context we are not called to serve God in heaven just yet but be patient and let the Son of God know that you are waiting for His return. When I look at the watchers community in the body of Christ I suppose the one thing that they seem to struggle with is patience but this is part of obedience to God.
If you are in suffering circumstances and have enemies you may be more prone to hold a grudge against one another. If we do this we grieve one another and as a result sorrow fills the heart of God. This circle is extremely close to being punished by Jesus Christ because the very essence of who we are supposed to be as Christians is loving and forgiving. James 5:7 tells us to look and observe the husbandman. He sows his corn in the ground, then he waits many months for the former and latter rain because a willingness to wait for the harvest is the fruit of his labor. If he can wait for a crop of corn we can wait for a crown of glory. In light of verses eight and nine do not be impatient or quarrel with one another because the great judge is at hand who is Jesus Christ. He is knocking at the door to see if we have love and forgiveness in our hearts and this is why I believe in verse nine it says grudge not against one another lest you be condemned. If one has a lack of love and a lack of forgiveness in his or her heart as a lifestyle the Bible is saying this person will be condemned. Groaning and grudging will hurt everybody full circle including ourselves.
In verse ten we are encouraged to look at the Prophets who were some of the greatest servants of God in time. Since they went through the hardest times we should be resigned to affliction with patience, love and forgiveness.
When verse eleven says we count those happy who endure Job is proposed as an example. Job endured his pain and was praising God in the end. In context these verses are saying God accomplished those things for him (his needs and desires) and this is proof that our Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy. When God is dealing with His children his tender mercy will give his people an abundant amends for all their hardships, afflictions and sufferings. Remember Jesus Christ suffered on the cross for us, He suffers through our darkest moments and He sees all the evil on earth and in Hades. The bottom line is we primarily grow through afflictions. The difference between the two groups that the Apostle James is talking about is one set of people listened to the devil and the other gathering of Christians knew what the word of God said, endured their trials with love and forgiveness and allowed the Holy Spirit to meet their needs and desires His way and in His timing which is patience personified in the Person of Jesus Christ. We should serve God and endue our trials. In the timing of God which is always perfect He will give us our allotted blessing in His proper time.
If you are one that has never come to know the Lord in a personal way now may be a good time to do this especially in light of the verses I just expanded on because there is good and evil. People that do not possess true salvation in Jesus Christ can go as far as killing good people because one sin if held on to hard can lead into the next advanced level of evil. This is like a domino effect that just keeps going but the righteous person desires to do the will of God and struggles when he or she is not in His will. If you feel you want this kind of lifestyle and desire to live in heaven for all eternity then accept Jesus Christ into your heart as your personal Savior and Lord by repenting of all your sins and inviting the Son of the Living God into your life. I hope and pray you just made that life changing eternal choice so you will be in the grace of God through His Son Jesus Christ.
God bless you,