As we have been looking into the poor state of faith and practice in those who first received James 5:1-11, we have discovered that recovering from a fall into carnal and un-Christlike behavior takes obedience to God’s commands. To combat their carnal behavior, arising from a growing anxiety over coming persecution) and the difficulties associated with persecution); we are commanded “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord”. Relief will come from the Lord eventually but wait on Him to bring it rather than take short cuts to alleviate a perceived lack.
Secondly, we are commanded with greater intensity concerning Christ’s return and our need to heed the first command… “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold the Judge is standing at the door”. Should we not heed the first command, we must not miss the second, or we will have controversy with our soon returning King. This is not a small matter, and why the Holy Spirit reminds us of the struggles of the prophets. This is a noteworthy reminder that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” 2 Timothy 3:12.
To further magnify this point, we receive another admonition form the Old Testament, concerning a man who suffered greatly, not for his being sinful, but for his being right before God by faith.
Verse 11 begins with “You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the intended end by the Lord”. Let us lay a little groundwork, before seeing God’s purpose in including this O.T. reference.
In the first place, Job was suffering for His faith in Christ. Consider with me…
Job 19:25-27 (NKJV) For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth, and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
Wow! The manuscripts we have of the Book of Job, happen to be the oldest in the Old Testament and in them the faithful patriarch speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ prophetically: “For I know my Redeemer lives and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth”. Job was suffering because of his example of faith in God and the one who would come to take away sin once for all.
When God refers to Job as blameless and upright, He was not referring to the man’s sacrifices and works, but the faith that led him to perform sacrifices, which foreshadowed the coming of his Redeemer, who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Satan hates a man willing to live dying to himself, to show forth the Savior, because this man will live dying to self and die with Christ’s name on his lips. This is a person, who despite trouble and deprivations, inherently manifests “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). This is a man, whom you cannot break by taking things from him, because the only thing he truly possesses is Christ, who has purchased the man with His own blood.
This leads us to God’s intended end. In our American Christian mindset, we often think, in error, that God’s intended end was to give Job back double of all he lost; but that would be inconsistent with what the Lord is communicating to James’ audience. So, what is God’s end intended? We find it in Job 42.
Job 42:1-6 (NKJV) Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore, I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job’s words come on the heels of his beginning to question God, as to why he was suffering. His words border on self-righteousness. In an instant, the LORD breaks in and questions Job for almost 4 chapters, in a manner summarized best with the question repeated often, “Where were you when I…”. Here we can see God’s compassion and mercy to break in before Job would violate God’s trust of him by sinning. But this mercy and compassion extends further into a new revelation, understanding and relationship for Job to God.
To God’s question, in devastating humility, Job states ““I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”.
Simply put, Job served God in faith, based on what was passed on to him, based on what he had heard of God. In faith, his service was pleasing to God, but Job did not really know God, therefore his words were partial, imperfect and ignorantly in error. When he sees and hears God personally, he now sees his sin for what it is and repents and desires a new nature.
Without the sufferings of Job, he would have stagnated in his faith; his self-righteousness would have weakened his faith and led him to a prideful disposition. Suffering was a vehicle for necessary sanctification.
After losing everything, he understands that faith in God is not about good temporary circumstances, but knowing the true God as personal, present, powerful, and loving. Without Job’s new perspective, his double portion would have been his undoing.
This was God’s intended end and why he reminded those who receive James’ epistle, to seek Him in difficulty, rather than attempt to alleviate the pain in shortcuts or looking for someone to blame. The reason for this call is to show us that trials of waiting are to draw us closer to Christ and strengthen individual faith, as well as that of the body of Christ, with the richness of His love, presence, and power.
Sufferings, temptations, and trials are not to lead us into devolving into cynicism, selfishness, partiality, or unbelief. Here is the challenge for us, as we finish this three-part series.
- Hope in Christ’s return is out in front of us, as light to guide us in the darkness of our times, until He comes (Titus 2:11-14). This blessed hope will never disappoint (Romans 5:3-5) and is built up by patiently enduring trials arising from our faith. Amid trials, hope in Christ’s return is like the pillar of fire Israel walked by in the wilderness at night.
- We must continue to look unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, especially when anxiety is injected into our mind and heart. In this, remember that anxiety only produces an assumption on “what if” thinking. Therefore, anxiety is around the corner, and we cannot see around the corner, unless given prophetic insight to do so by the Holy Spirit (which would not produce anxiety).
- We cannot maintain focus on Christ, who lights the path in front of us, and be looking even a little at the “what ifs” around the corner. We must apply Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33-34. Where we are called to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, trusting all we need will be given; and remain focused on Christ in the day we are in.
Let us ask the question “Am I being pulled around the corner, away from looking to Jesus in the day, because I am worrying about the “what ifs” to come?
If so… KNOCK IT OFF! You may never reach tomorrow, so worrying about it means we are wasting the time we have today.