Jeff Adams


Amassing Patience

December 8, 2013

If you check the time stamp, it’s Sunday – all day today. Instead of preaching this morning I was sitting at the DFW airport, my home since yesterday. I came to Dallas Thursday for a board meeting and got caught in Iceaggedon. Now I’m just bored and trying to get home. That part is not working out very well.

I can’t blame the Texans for not knowing how to handle snow, cold and ice. They don’t have to deal with it much. I think the Republic of Texas auctioned off their last snowplow on Craig’s list a few years ago. As for salt, it’s found mostly on the rims of Margarita glasses here in Texas and never on the roads. I’m confirmed on a flight to Cleveland in a few hours. What’s not confirmed is when and if the flight will actually occur. I hadn’t planned to fly back to Kansas City through Cleveland, but I think I would probably try to fly back through ¬†Calcutta at this point if I thought I had half a chance. If this flight doesn’t work, they are telling me it might be another day or two before I can escape.

So, here I sit amassing a sizable quantity of patience. I suppose I need to practice what I preach. I shared some thoughts from James recently in our staff meeting and just yesterday in our board meeting about patience, something we tend to overlook in this age of instant gratification.

Remember inclusios or inclusions? I’ve pointed them out several times in our study of Luke. They are a literary device used to assist oral learners in getting handles on what they are hearing. Most people in biblical times were illiterate. All were primarily oral learners. Authors would block off segments of text with parallel statements, phrases, words, or themes so as to signal the main focus. I like to call them “literary ¬†bookends.” When we learn how they work, they have great value in keeping on focused on the main point.

The Book of James has a lot of rich stuff, but it appears to be all bracketed in by patience. Here’s how James opens his letter.

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greetings. (2) My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations; (3) Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. (4) But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (James 1:1-4)

James’ thesis is that God takes advantage of trials in our lives to work patience in us. That’s a powerful thought in itself – we don’t work up, muster up, or ratchet up patience by trying harder; God works patience in us through our trials. In turn, our growing reservoir of patience yields the dividend of maturity. Paul said in essence the same thing to the Romans (Romans 5:3-5).

James concludes his letter with what some Bible scholars have labeled “the grand inclusion.” He comes right back to the theme with which he opened right out of the chute.

Be patient therefore, brothers, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman (farmer) waits for the precious fruit of the earth, and has long patience for it, until he receives the early and latter rain. (8) Be you also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draws near. (9) Grudge not one against another, brothers, lest you be condemned: behold, the judge stands before the door. (10) Take, my brothers, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. (11) Behold, we count them happy which endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. (12) But above all things, my brothers, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yes be yes; and your no, no; lest you fall into condemnation (James 5:7-12).

Pretty clear, huh? I guess it’s also pretty clear what I need to be doing as I sit here surrounded by ice. If and when I do make it home, if you need any patience I should have some to spare by then.

One Comment

  1. David Ruhman says:

    Timely description of the importance of seeing the larger/broader picture. As you share the connection between James and Job, I am thankful that someone suggested reading your commentary on Job. I am amazed by the broader strokes of God’s mission and plan for life of all who will choose to listen to His Word – written in the Bible, lived in the jungles of Guatemala, or achieved just after the Flood (as in Job) and confirmed in the life of Christ (and continuing till His 2nd coming). What blessing God provides to those who will take a moment and draw back to look at more than the “rearview mirror.” The invitation exists for a weary traveler, for the individual engaged in a personal or spiritual battle, or for the individual who takes the time to stop, reflect and receive God’s precious moments in our life. Thank you for reminding this fellow “traveller” to be patient and see the broader perspective of God’s presence in my daily experience in Him.

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