While We Are Waiting, Love People

Prisoner with his family

A sermon idea based on James 5:7-10.

James 5:7-11 NRSV

[7] 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. [8] You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. [9] Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! [10] As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. [11] 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.


The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…

Just as Israel once waited for their Messiah to come and deliver them, we who believe Jesus is that Messiah now wait for God to finish his work of redeeming and renewing all things. And while we wait, our biggest assignment is to learn how to live with people, because we’ll be doing so for eternity.


Information about the text that matters to the message, a potential outline, key truths to share, etc.

Waiting is hard, isn’t it?

We live in an on demand world. As consumers, we have at least the illusion of being able to demand what we want, when we want it, and we usually wanted it yesterday.

But Advent is all about waiting. With patience. With hope. And with love.

Waiting, with love?

The problem with our impatience is it keeps our minds focused primarily on our own needs and concerns and not on the interests of others. It’s why we get grumpy in long lines and waiting rooms. We sigh. We huff. We say things we would never want to hear if we were on the other side of the conversation.

And James, as is his typical fashion, calls all of us on our tendency to put our own interests and demands first. His message is, in short…

Jesus is coming.
So be nice.

But I think what James has in mind is more than our being morally excellent in time for the judgment. Jame’s whole letter is filled with calls to treat people with love and respect. This passage just repeats that call but does so in light of the promise of Christ’s coming.

In other words, it’s less about our getting in trouble with God for our behavior and more about the need to value relationships above all of our other concerns. Why? Becuase Jesus is coming to make all of our relationships permanent. Eternal. And this life is our practice run.

Get good a loving people here and eternity will be a richer experience. Become a grumbler and a complainer here and you’ll be less satisfied with the wonder that all of those eternal relationships will bring.

This is complex because we so often think about heaven as this one-size-fits-all place. We know there’s no pain or sorrow, but we fail to understand that we remain our individual selves beyond the grave. Who you are becoming now matters. Forever.

So, while you await the imminent return of Jesus to complete the redemption and renewal of all things, learn to love other people well. That will matter more than anything else you accomplish during your life here and now.


The big call-to-action in the message…

Your assignment, now and going forward, is to learn how to do life with other people on this side of eternity so that we enrich our experience of God’s family in eternity. So, who can you encourage? Whom do you need to forgive? Who needs your love right now?


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About the Cover Art: Vereschchagin, Vasily Petrovich, 1835-1909. Appointment of a prisoner with his family, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

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