Monday, December 04, 2006

What To Do When You've Been Done Wrong

When was the last time you got done wrong? How did you respond? In chapter 5 of his Epistle, James gives 4 reminders for anytime we get the short end of the proverbial stick.

First, we are to be patient (v7-8). The word “patient” stresses the idea of non-retaliation. It literally means to hold one’s spirit in check. The idea is to “restrain your temper.” We must never allow mistreatment to drive us to hatred or bitterness. James says that we are to be patient “until the coming of the Lord.” We are to respond with patience until the coming of the Lord. This is referring to the return of Christ that James saw as occurring at any time. When the time comes that He does return, Jesus will right all wrongs.

James illustrates this need in our lives by using a farmer which would be widely known to his readers from Palestinian agricultural. The farmer plants a seed into ground which has received little rain all year. He patiently waits for the fall rains that come around October and November and to the spring showers of April and May. In the same way, we too must sow our seed of obedience waiting patiently for the promise of the Lord’s return. With this promise in mind, we must strengthen our hearts and be patient

Second we are not to complain (v9). The word “complain” speaks of a sigh or groan and is used of inward sighing more than outward complaints. James warns that to groan inwardly with complaints against others is the sort of judging that he has warned us against previously (4:11-12). We will be judged even for our inward feelings of bitterness and criticism that may not be outwardly expressed. When James says that “the Judge is standing at the door,” he is giving yet another inference to his belief in the imminent return of Christ

Third, we are to look at the prophets (v10-11). James encourages his readers to remember many of the Old Testament prophets who were persecuted severely. Jesus used the same illustration in Matthew 5:11-12 as did Stephen in Acts 7:52. One such example is the prophet Jeremiah. Among other things, he was beaten and put in stocks (Jeremiah 20:2); placed into prison (Jeremiah 32:2); and thrown into a muddy cistern (Jeremiah 38:6). James reminds us of the endurance of Job who is most known for his endurance in the face of adversity. God rewarded Job for such faithfulness and endurance. He will also reward us for our endurance.

Finally, we are not to swear (v12). In all of our attempts to avoid expressing impatience during trials we should avoid swearing. This is speaking of denying one’s guilt by reinforcing his statement with an oath. Peter did this in Matthew 26:72. Oath-taking, which occurred throughout the Old Testament, had been greatly abused in the days of Jesus and the early church. The word of the Christian should be so trustworthy that his yes means yes and his no means no.

Chances are you will be done wrong again sometime in your life. How will you respond?

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