James 5:7 - "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain."
What does godly patience look like?
In Puritan Thomas Manton’s work “A Practical Commentary, or an Exposition with Notes, on the Epistle of James”, he examines this closer in looking at the beginning of the above verse.
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From Thomas Manton:
Verse 7. — Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord: behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and the latter rain.
He now diverts from the rich oppressors, unto the poor faithful brethren that were oppressed. By the illative particle “therefore” we may see the former paragraph was for their sakes. The rich men shall be punished for their wickedness and oppression ; therefore, be you patient.
Be patient, therefore, brethren, [Greek word]. The word is put for long-suffering, and so usually translated, which is a further degree of patience; for patience is a sense of afflictions without murmuring, and of injuries without revenge. Now, long-suffering is patience extended, and lengthened out to that which our apostle calls its perfect work. Observe:
Obs. It is the duty of the children of God to be patient under their sufferings, though they be long and sharp. It is easier in a calm and sedate condition to discourse of patience, than to exercise it in time of trial. Philosophers have discoursed of it, and commended it ; but Christians themselves have staggered, when they have been exercised with a sharp sense of evils.
When God gives up his people to the lust [generally, any corrupt desire of the heart] of adversaries, then it is sad, and we are apt to murmur; and yet the apostle says, we should suffer with a long patience. I shall spare motives, and a little show you what Christian patience is.
It differs from security and stoical insensibleness [just ignoring it, burying the emotions, etc.]; there can be no patience where there is no sense of evil [of our own sin, temptations to sin under difficulties, etc.]. Christianity does not abrogate affections, but regulate them. Carnal men put off [for later] that which they cannot put away, and are not patient but stupid [like being in a stupor] and careless. There are other remedies in Christianity than quenching our sorrows in the wine [literal and metaphorical] of pleasures.
Again, it differs from moral patience, which is nothing but a yielding to necessity [they go with it because they cannot do anything about it], and is usually accompanied with vain [useless] thoughts (Jer. iv. 14), and carnal workings of spirit. When God lays on crosses, men please themselves with suppositions of worldly profit, and how their present condition may conduce to secular advancement; as when God takes away wife or children, men do not think of submission to the hand of God, but the capacity of augmenting their worldly estate, &c.
In short. Christian patience supposes a sense of evil, and then in the formality of it, it is a submission of the whole soul to the will of God. Wherein observe,
(1.) The nature; it is a submission of the whole soul. The judgment subscribes, “Good is the word of the Lord,” &c. (Isa. xxxix. 9.) Though it were to him a terrible word, yet the submission of a sanctified judgment can call it good. Then the will accepts, “If they shall accept the punishment” (Lev. xxvi. 4) ; that is, take it kindly from God that it is no worse. Then the affections are restrained, and anger and sorrow brought under the commands of the word. Then the tongue is bridled, lest discontent plash [splash] over; Aaron held his peace, (Lev. x. 3).
(2.) Consider the grounds and proper considerations upon which all this is carried on. Usually there is such a progress as this in the spiritual discourse:
(1st.) The soul sees God in it : “I was dumb, and opened not my mouth, because thou didst it” (Psa. xxxix. 9).
(2nd.) It sees God acting with sovereignty : “None can say unto him; What dost thou?” (Job. ix. 12.) And elsewhere, “He giveth no account of his matters.”
(3rd.) Lest this should make the heart storm [with fury], it sees sovereignty modified and mitigated in the dispensation of it with several attributes:
- With justice:
(Deut. xxvii. 26), When every curse was pronounced, they were to say Amen that if it come to pass ; Amen is but a righteous dispensation.
- With mercy:
“Thou hast punished us less than we deserved” (Esra. ix. 13). They were afflicted, they might have been destroyed; they were in Babylon, they might have been in hell.
- With faithfulness:
They look upon afflictions as federal dispensations, as appendages of the covenant of grace; “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might keep thy statutes” (Psa. cxix. 71). When they are threshed, it is but to lose their stalks and husks ; God’s faithfulness would not suffer [allow] them to want [want] such a sweet help.
- With wisdom:
God is a God of judgment (Isa, xxx. 18) ; it is meant in his dispensations. Let God alone, he is too just to do us wrong, and too kind and wise to do us harm.
May God grant us a desire for this patience, may we seek Him daily for it, and may He graciously grant us it so we can live properly as unto Him!