Comments on James 5:1-10

James 5:1-10
The portion of believers is not in this world. Christ has won them for Himself, that they should be in His likeness in glory, co-heirs with Him. His love would have them enjoy all that He Himself enjoys, for His love is perfect. But if so, they must suffer with Him. If it is given to us to suffer for Him, it is a great privilege, but it is not the portion of all. Nevertheless, all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:1212Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)).
It is impossible to escape suffering with Him, for if we have the Spirit of Christ, we feel as Christ felt. Holiness suffers at the sight of the sin which is around, and in seeing the condition of the 'church of God and of His people. There is also sorrow on all sides and the need of souls who will not have Christ or salvation. Each one ought to take up his cross. Besides this, God permits us to suffer because in so doing, we learn patience and that our inheritance is not below. Experience, which is the realization of practical truth, is confirmed in the heart, and hope becomes much clearer and stronger. This, it is true, supposes that the love of God is shed abroad in our heart by the Holy Ghost, and if this is not the case, God allows suffering, and also sends it, to renew the heart. He chastens whom He loves.
James addresses the rich who have possessions in this world and who do not consider the poor, while "blessed is he that considereth the poor" (Psa. 41:11<<To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.>> Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. (Psalm 41:1)). He who despises the poor because of his poverty despises the Lord Himself. The Lord Himself in the Psalm preceding the one from which I have quoted says, "I am poor and needy" (Psa. 40:1717But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God. (Psalm 40:17)). The Lord had pronounced His blessing upon the poor; to such the gospel was preached. It was a sign announcing the Messiah. We all know that a poor man may be just as wicked as any other, but riches are a positive danger for us because they nourish pride and tend to dispose the heart to keep aloof from the poor with whom the Lord associated Himself in this world. He who was rich "for your sakes...became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich."
Here the rich had been foremost in evil. They oppressed the poor and kept back from them the wages for which they had labored. James places before us a view of the last days. The cry of the poor had entered into the ears of the Lord of hosts. He exhorts the rich to weep and howl for the miseries that should come upon them. They had lived in pleasure on the earth and had been wanton. But not only this, they had condemned and killed the Just, for when one lives in pleasure, he does not like anyone to come and disturb his happiness. They wished to secure the enjoyment of the world in a false tranquility which thinks neither of God, nor of judgment, nor of death.
If conscience was aroused, they were disturbed and they hardened themselves as far as possible that it might not be aroused.
God does not for the present alter the course of the world. If He did so, He must execute judgment, instead of working in love for the ungodly and sinners. He is not willing to smite them; nevertheless, He is not slack concerning His promise, but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish. The Christian then must take courage, must be patient and submissive to outward evil until the coming of the Lord, even as Christ Himself who did well, and suffered, and waited patiently. Thus the Christian should walk in His steps. Our portion is not in this world. If we suffer for well-doing, this is acceptable to God, and still more so if it is for Christ Himself that we suffer.
The life of our Savior was all suffering and patience; but now He is glorified with God the Father. Soon He will come a second time into the world, in the glory of the Father, and in His own glory, and in the glory of the angels, and then He will be glorified in His saints and will be admired in all them that believe.
In that glorious day, when the poorest of His own-Christians, oppressed by the enemies of the truth-will be like the Lord Himself in glory, we shall make our boast in having been permitted to suffer for Him, and in having maintained patience and silence through the unjustly imposed sufferings of the Christian life. Blessed are they who are found watching, for He will gird Himself and will make them sit down to meat and will come forth and serve them. See Luke 12:35-4435Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; 36And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. 37Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. 38And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 39And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. 40Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. 41Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? 42And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? 43Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 44Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. (Luke 12:35‑44). What joy! What grace! It will be the glory of the Savior Himself to give us to enjoy the blessings of heaven in the Father's house, ministering all with His own hands. It is well worthwhile to suffer for Him a little, and for a little while, and then to possess heavenly blessing, communicated by the hand and the heart of Jesus Himself. We shall reign with Him, and enjoy the fruit of the work which we have been permitted to do for Him. If it is only a cup of water given in the name of Jesus, it shall not lose its reward. But it will be far better still to sit down in peace, enjoying those eternal blessings in the Father's house which Christ will abundantly minister to us-precious testimony of His approval and of His love.
Note how the coming of Christ was a present hope. The oppressed one was to have patience until that coming. "Be patient," says Jesus, "until the coming of the Lord." Some one may say, "Then they were deceived." By no means. We may die before the Lord's coming, and, in fact, we know that these saints did die. But they will reap all the fruits of their patience when the Lord comes. And till that moment, they are with the Lord-absent from the body, present with the Lord-and they will come with Him and then will enjoy all the fruit of those sufferings which they had patiently endured for the love of His name seeking to glorify it down here.
This exhortation clearly shows how this hope was a present one which was interwoven with the entire thread of Christian life. It was not a theory in the head, a point of acquired knowledge, or a dogma of belief only. They expected the Lord in person. What consolation for the poor and the oppressed! What a check upon the rich to be constantly expecting the Lord! How good it is to know that He will soon come, that troubles will cease, and that we shall be with Him who has loved us! Nothing produces separation from the world like waiting for the Lord-I do not say the doctrine of His coming, but true waiting for Him. His coming will separate us from it forever. The heart waits until He comes.
The Lord's supper expresses the Christian state-the Lord's death at His first coming, which we celebrate with thanksgiving, remembering Him who has loved us and feeding on His love until He comes to take us to be with Him. It is the formal expression of the practical state of the Christian as a Christian-of Christianity itself. Let us add, that it is by the Holy Spirit alone that we are able to express this in truth.
But remark yet another thing in this exhortation-"Be patient, brethren." We are always waiting for the Lord, if we really understand our position, but whatever may be our desires, we can neither command the Lord to come, nor can we know when He will come. And blessed be His name! the Lord is patient. As long as there is yet one soul to be called by the gospel, He will not come. His whole body, His bride, must be formed; every member must be present, converted and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Then He will come and take us. Christ Himself is seated on the Father's throne, not on His own throne. He also is waiting for that moment with more desire than we are, and therefore the patience of Christ is spoken of-this is the meaning of Revelation 1:99I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:9). Also in Revelation 3:1010Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10) we read, "because thou hast kept the word of My patience," and in 2 Thessalonians 3:55And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. (2 Thessalonians 3:5) (J.N.D.), "the patience of the Christ."
We are taught in Hebrews 10:1212But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; (Hebrews 10:12) and 13 that Christ is seated at the right hand of God, waiting till His enemies shall be made His footstool. We may well wait if Christ is waiting, but we wait in suffering and conflict. He is waiting to reign, and then He will cause full blessing to flow forth for His own, whether in heaven or on earth, and will banish evil from both.
Thus we need patience that neither self-will nor weariness of the conflict should take possession of our souls, but in the confidence that the time God wills is best, for it is the time which divine wisdom and His love for us have ordained. Let us fix our affections on the Lord and on things above, because we wait for Him with desire of heart, with broken will and with unwavering faith, leaving His return to God's appointed time. We cannot change it, but the heart can have entire confidence in His love, assured that the Lord waits for us with greater love than we for Him. Let us be calm in confidence, patient in the wilderness journey. How sweet to wait for Christ-for the fullness of joy with Him! Thanks be to God, He says, "it is at hand."
James draws two practical consequences from the expectation of the Lord. First, we ought not to resist evil; the Just One did not resist. We must wait with patience, as the husbandman waits for the precious fruits of the earth, until he have received the early and the latter rain, the means which God uses to bring the fruit of harvest to perfection. The Christian should stablish his heart by this expectation, while passing through the troubles of this life and the persecution of the world which is ever the adversary of the Lord.
Second, He warns the disciples against walking in a complaining and quarrelsome spirit, one toward another. If we are waiting for the Lord, the spirit is calm and contented; it does not get irritated with its persecutors. Moreover, we bear with patience the ills of the desert, and resist evil as Christ resisted, suffering, and bearing wrongs and committing Himself to God. We are contented and quiet, with a happy and kindly spirit, for kindness flows easily from a happy heart. The Lord's coming will put everything right, and our happiness is found elsewhere. This is what Paul says in Philippians 4:55Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. (Philippians 4:5): "Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand." Let us repeat it. How real, how mighty and practical, was this expectation of the Lord! What power it had over the heart! "The Judge standeth before the door."
Then he gives examples. The prophets were examples of suffering affliction, and of patience, and they counted them happy in their sufferings. And they have not been alone; others also have endured and have been counted happy. For example, if we see one suffering unjustly for the name of Jesus, and he is patient and meek, his heart called out on behalf of his persecutors, rather than irritated against them, then we recognize the power of faith, and of confidence in the love and faithfulness of the Lord. He is calm and full of joy and we say, "See how grace makes that man happy!" We, too, are happy when we suffer; at least, we ought to be so. But it is one thing to admire others who are sustained by the Spirit of Christ, and another to glory in tribulations when we are in them ourselves. We need a broken will, confidence in God and communion with Him who has suffered for us, in order to be able to glory in sufferings.