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"The Hope that Makes Us Strong"
Wednesday AM Bible Study
October 15, 2003
Often, when a believer is suffering because of being treated unjustly,
he or she can fall into deep discouragement and say, "Why are they doing
this to me? I just want it to end." And sometimes, they may even become
tempted to take action to 'make' it end - or to get even somehow.
James wrote to Christians under such pressure. They were being treated
unjustly by evil people who had the advantage over them (vv. 1-6). But
what he says to them in verses 7-8 is intended to to bring them into the
right perspective. Hope comes from having this right perspective - that
is, that we are to look to Jesus Christ, and to see injustice as finding
its ultimate resolve in His return. God, through His servant James, here
teaches us that the strength to be patient when treated unjustly comes
from fixing our hopes on the return of the Lord. We are "long-suffering"
to the degree that we have our eyes fixed on Jesus and His glorious return.
James builds this argument through three main assersions: (1) by telling
us the attitude of spirit we're to have; (2) by then telling us what sort
of perspective will give us this attitude; and (3) by exhorting us to
take strengthen our hearts in this attitude. Notice how James develops
these three elements of his argument ...
I. THE ATTITUDE: WE ARE TO BE PATIENT WHEN TREATED UNJUSTLY.
A. James doesn't use the usual word for "patience". The common
word for patience is hupomoné ("to abide under"; cf. 1:2-4). Here, he
uses the word makrothumia ("to be long-suffering or long-tempered").
The former word tends to be used for a settled attitude of heart with
respect to situations and circumstances. But James word here is used
with regard to people and things.
II. THE PERSPECTIVE: SUCH PATIENCE COMES THROUGH FIXING OUR HOPE ON
THE RETURN OF THE LORD.
B. God calls us to exercise a spirit of long-suffering when treated
1. In outward expressions - Prov. 14:29; 22:24-25; 16:32;
2. In inward attitudes - Heb. 12:14-15.
A. When James says "until the coming of the Lord", he's calling
us to look ahead and gain perspective. The "forward look" is described
for us wonderfully in Colossians 3:1-4.
B. James gives us an illustration: The farmer waits for the early
and later rains. Nothing will grow without those rains; and his impatience
can do nothing to hurry them. The farmer must wait on God's time-table.
We must wait on God's timetable too. We need to remember that for
everything we actually see God doing, there are a myriad of other
things - unseen to us - that He is also doing at the same time. When
all the pieces are in place, we will see that all things - indeed
- do work for good to those who love Him (Rom. 8:28-29); and that
our patience will eventually pay off (2 Thess. 1:3-10).
III. TAKING STRENGTH: WE'RE TO STRENGTHEN OUR HEARTS BY FIXING
ON THIS HOPE.
A. We do this by accepting that we will suffer injustice
in this world (2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12-19).
B. We also do this by deferring "vengeance" to God, and not seeking
to take vengeance ourselves (Rom. 12:17-21).
C. We do this by submitting to God's sovereignty in the exercise
of justice (2 Peter 3:3-9).
D. And we do this by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus as our great
example of hopeful patience in suffering (Hebrews 12:1-3).