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patient handsPatience in Tribulation, James 5:7-12

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Life is sometimes difficult and even threatening. We may be tempted to make promises or oaths, or other legally binding agreements if we can just make the suffering stop. Consider these two common stories:

1. A bully stops a boy outside the school building and forces the kid to give him his lunch money or he will beat him up. The bully then makes the kid swear that he will not tell anyone, or else he will punch his lights out.

2. A person who is heavily in debt goes to a financier and, without reading the fine print, signs the agreement just so he will not suffer bankruptcy.

What do these two scenarios have in common? A: the bullied boy and the indebted person make hasty agreements because of the threats they face. Things were no different for the early persecuted church. James 5:7 says, “be patient then….” Since verse 7 follows James 5:1-6, what may we may conclude from the summary word “then” ?

Answer 1


What were they to do? What can we learn from James' counsel when we face threatening trials? James 5:7-8

Answer 2


What are some ways people are foolish when they want to deliver themselves?

Answer 3


No one likes to suffer, and we grumble about it. James knew that. There was a temptation to grumble about people and the trouble they caused. What was James counsel? James 5:9-12

Answer 4


What happened to the prophets? Hebrews 11:32- 40. What happened to Job? Job 1:1-3, 11- 20; 2:7-10; 42:10-17

Answer 5


Above all, in verse 12, James tells his friends not to swear, i.e., to make oaths. In light of what they were going through, being persecuted, why do you suppose he gives them this counsel?

Answer 6


Lessons to Live by: (ask for members' input first)


Today's Bible memory verse:

James 5:10 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. (NIV)

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A1: that many Christians in the early church were suffering from the abusive treatment of rich people (some of them from fellow believers). This summary word, “then” may also be a reference to all the religious persecution mentioned up to this point. The temptation was to deliver themselves when they were suffering by whatever means they might find.

A2: James' counsel was to be patient, to stand firm in their faith, and to wait for God's deliverance. When Jesus comes back he would make all things right. It was expected that he would come soon. In the meantime he wanted them to trust in the Lord and not seek to deliver themselves by being foolish. We can learn to do the same thing when we face difficult circumstances.

A3: They may get into a physical or verbal fight or find other ways to take vengeance. They may gamble, hoping to make enough money to deliver themselves from being poor. They may lie, cheat or steal. They may make trouble for those who are causing them to suffer.

A4: His counsel was to not do that; God will judge them (and by principle, us) for such things. Instead, James counseled his readers to remember others who had to be patient in their sufferings and draw encouragement from their example of perseverance.

A5: They were persecuted and mistreated, killed or even attacked by Satan. God blesses those who are patient and persevere under trials, for God is a God of compassion and mercy.

A6: Again, this probably refers to the temptation these persecuted believers would have to deliver themselves in any way, including taking foolish oaths.

Lessons to Live by:

•  For children: if you are being bullied, you should not be hasty to make deals and vow not to tell. It is better to take a beating than to give in to threats all the time. Don't grumble about that person. Pray for him and tell teachers or a school counselor so the bullying might stop.

•  If any adults are facing persecution or some other threat, it would be good to pray about the situation, follow the good advice of the Lord found in His Word, and don't grumble about the people involved (remember that God will judge every idle word we speak). Instead we should be patient and persevere in our trials, trust in the Lord and not make foolish oaths or binding agreements.

•  Remember that others have suffered and persevered. Because they trusted in God, God was compassionate and merciful to them, and he will be to us as well. If you do not know this merciful and compassionate God, why not find out more about him (more...)

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