Let your soul take a moment of rest as you hear God’s word. Put your busy schedule, wandering mind, stressful thoughts, and burdened heart at the feet of the cross and open up to God’s voice as the Giver of Life tends your soul.
James 5:7-12 (NRSV)
Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
Above all, my beloved, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “Yes” be yes and your “No” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.
Patience is a virtue, we say. James regarded it as even more, a principle of Christian living. It’s one thing to be patient when things are going well, but for the first readers of this letter, that wasn’t the case. They faced serious difficulties because of their new-found faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. So James urged them to be patient, like the farmer who awaits the harvest that depends on timely rains. Or like that Old Testament figure Job. Despite unspeakable adversity, he showed endurance (not necessarily always patience!). The foundation of this call to patient endurance is the believer’s conviction about the coming of the Lord.
In the same vein, James cautions against swearing oaths, because for the Christian, honesty is not just “the best policy,” it is a principle of living. There is no need for an oath when one’s word is a genuine bond. Today it is hard to know whom to believe—from politicians, to the media, to religious leaders, to almost anyone else. We are adept at spotting spin, callous toward the sales spiel, suspicious of the telemarketer. So this call to honesty strikes a chord. Does our Lord really expect honesty of us in our relationships, our business dealings, our community responsibilities? We know the answer.
Lord, you are the way, the truth, and the life. Grant me the patient endurance to be faithful to you this day, and purge my tongue of any slight of the truth for your sake. Amen.
Go with God.