The contrast between the brothers, Passion and Patience, could hardly have been greater. While Patience was content and happy, Passion was always grumbling and uncomfortable. The cause of Passion’s discontentment was, he thought, that he did not want to wait till the beginning of the next year to receive the things the governor had promised him. Both boys had the same promise, but Passion was unwilling to wait. Finally, the governor sent treasures to Passion. The treasure delighted Passion who eagerly used it for all of his plans while laughing Patience to scorn. But it was not long before the treasure had run out and Passion had nothing but rags left. At the beginning of the year when Patience would receive unfailing treasure, Passion would have nothing left because he refused to wait for them. John Bunyan’s parable of Passion and Patience helps us understand the way Christians think and live. Sometimes they seem to have more trouble on this earth – and the world scorns them. But Christians are looking beyond this life into the next and they see the incorruptible treasures that await them in eternity. James 5:7-12 shows what it looks like to patiently live in expectation of the Lord’s coming again. Study the passage to see how to live ready for Christ’s return.
Begin with prayer, asking the Lord to give you wisdom and understanding through His Word and to show you wonderful things about Himself and His promises.
Read Focus Verses
Read James 5:7-12 and notice what coming event ties all of these instructions and encouragements together.
What theme phrase appears a few times in the first two verses of today's passage and is referenced— directly and indirectly— through the rest of the study?
Key Phrase - Coming of the Lord
Mark the phrase the coming of the Lord to help it visually stand out to you each time you read or reference this passage.
Coming of the Lord
The Lord's Coming
Mark the phrase the coming of the Lord in James 5:7-12.
What name/title is used to address the audience of these verses and what does it tell us about who these verses are primarily directed to?
What illustration is used in verse 7?
According to verse 8, what is the relationship between that illustration and a Christian?
What word is repeated throughout today's passage to describe how Christians are to wait for the Lord?
Keyword - Patient
Patience is also an important theme in today's passage.
Mark the word patient in all its forms in today's passage.
What command is given in verse 9?
What motivation is given to obey that command in the end of verse 9?
What examples are referenced in verses 10-11 to illustrate this kind of patient waiting?
What is true of these believers from the past who have waited for the Lord with patience according to the beginning of verse 11?
The Lord Is
What does the end of verse 11 tell us about the Lord?
What instruction is given in verse 12?
Why is obedience to this instruction important according to the end of verse 12?
One of the earliest references to Christ's coming again is in Job 19:25. Job is mentioned later in today's passage as an example of the kind of patience Christians are exhorted to have.
Matthew 24:27 tells us how He will come.
As He Went Up
Right after Jesus ascended into heaven, angels told us about how He would return next in Acts 1:9-11.
The Lord Jesus Himself tells directly when He's coming in Revelation 22:20.
What do these verses tell us about Christ's coming?
The passage particularly highlights two things about the Lord who is coming. What are they?
Romans 2:16 is very clear about who the Judge is.
Revelation 19:11-16 tells us how He will come in the Second Coming when He comes to judge.
Acts 17:30-31 tells us how people ought to respond to the truth of coming judgment.
Matthew 25:32-46 gives us insight into the day of judgment.
Romans 8:1-4 tells us how God's people escape judgment - through the righteousness of Christ.
Tried by Fire
But even believers, who are secure in Christ, will be judged and rewarded based on their works according to 1 Corinthians 3:11-15.
What do these verses teach us about the Judge who is coming?
At the Door
Why does today's passage remind us that the Judge is at the door? How is that supposed to impact us?
Compassionate and Merciful
Today's passage presents another truth about the Lord which at first seems contradictory, but which we realize is harmoniously paired with His judgment by His love. Consider what Psalm 103 says about the Lord's mercy and compassion in verses 8 and then 13.
New Every Morning
Lamentations 3:22-23 presents a beautiful truth about God's compassion and mercy.
Micah 7:18 tells us what God delights in.
What do these verses tell us about God?
We see how God's justice as a righteous Judge and His mercy work together in Ezekiel 33:11.
Mercy and Judgment
Earlier in James we see the relationship between mercy and judgment in James 2:13.
Romans 5:6-11 tells us how God can extend mercy to His enemies.
Judgment and Kindness
How do God's mercy and judgment work together?
Isaiah 55:6-7 tells us what our response to these wonderful truths should be.
What should a person's initial response to God's mercy and judgment be?
According to today's passage, after a person has turned to the Lord in repentance and saving faith, what should their continued response to God's mercy and judgment be?
A Farmer's Patience
How does the illustration of a farmer help us understand the kind of patience Christians are to have?
Romans 8:24-25 explains a Christian's patient waiting for Christ as based in expectant hope.
In Galatians 5:22-23 we see the source of all true patience.
James 1:2-4 tells us how we learn patience.
In 2 Thessalonians 3:5 God pairs patiently waiting for Christ with the greatest commandment.
Why does a Christian need patience, and how do they get it?
Don't Give up Now
Hebrews 10:35-37 exhorts Christians not to give up now but to wait patiently a little longer.
Galatians 6:9 gives us a similar encouragement and warning.
1 Corinthians 15:58 talks about establishing our hearts in hope of Christ's return like today's passage.
Jude 1:20-25 shows us what this looks like.
Looks Like This
What does patiently looking for Christ's coming look like?
In Matthew 24:44-46 we see that there is a blessing for those who live this way.
This patient waiting and living will be rewarded according to Romans 2:6-8.
Earlier in James 1:12 we read about enduring and receiving a reward.
1 Peter 1:3-9 tells us why this reward is worth patiently waiting for.
In the End
What is the reward for Christians who patiently wait for Christ and live to please Him?
The Lord Jesus points us to the example of the prophets and how they endured suffering and were rewarded in Matthew 5:10-12.
So We'd Learn
Romans 15:4 tells us that the reason God wrote about their stories is so that we'd learn from them.
Abraham's Patient Faith
Notice what Hebrews 6:15 says about Abraham.
In 1 Corinthians 10:13 we see that we face the same temptations they did. This is why their example is so valuable to us— because the same God who helped them endure is our Helper.
Why does today's passage encourage us to consider the example of the prophets?
Today's passage especially highlights Job's patient faith. This video gives a short, if lighthearted, overview of the story of Job to remind us why God holds him up as an example of patience and endurance for us.
We hear Job's faith in his own words in Job 13:15.
Hall of Faith
Sadly we don't have time in this study to go through the encouraging stories of each of those who endured patiently and waited for Christ. But we do have God's inspired summary of some of their examples in Hebrews 11. Listen to or read this chapter and listen to how their faith and patience impacted their choices and the way they lived.
The very next verses after that powerful chapter tell us how the examples of these faithful men and women, and especially the example of Jesus Christ, should impact our lives. Read Hebrews 12:1-4.
2 Peter 3:1-14 tells us that there will be people who deny Christ is returning, but assures us that He's coming and that this reality should impact our daily lives.
Envy and Strife
Today's passage includes two very specific instructions to those who are waiting patiently for Christ's return. The first, not to grumble or hold grudges against each other, is rooted in what we see in James 3:13-18.
Matthew 6:14-15 gives us good motivation for forgiving instead.
In the next chapter, Matthew 7:1-2 we are given another, similar motivation.
Hebrews 12:14-16 gives us another reason not to hold bitterness against others.
In Leviticus 19:18 we see the same command that we see in today's passage. Here we're told the opposite which we should do instead.
What are some reasons God doesn't want His people grumbling against each other and holding grudges?
What does God want His people to do instead?
How important does God say the second specific command to not swear is?
Exodus 20:7 helps us understand why this command is so important.
Psalm 139:20 tells us what kind of people use God's Name in vain.
When Peter denied the Lord Jesus he cursed and swore, as we're told in Matthew 26:69-75, which certainly doesn't recommend it.
Perhaps you don't use God's Name directly, but consider what Jesus says about other swearing in Matthew 5:33-37.
He speaks of this again in Matthew 23:16-22.
In Ephesians 5:3-5 God categorizes this kind of profane talk with (other) serious sins.
What does God say about swearing?
Why is it so important to God that His people don't swear?
What does verse 12 of today's passage say about how Christians should speak to properly reflect their faithful, promise keeping God?
Read James 5:7-12 once more and consider what it says about living in light of Christ's return.
In Your Words
In your own words, summarize James 5:7-12 (you can use the other passages you've referenced, too).
You've seen that the first response a person should have to the glorious and fearful truth that Christ is returning as Judge is to repent of sin and ask God to save you for Jesus' sake because He died in your place and rose again. Have you done this? Why not today if you haven't?
If you've been transplanted into Christ's kingdom by salvation through faith, are you living like you're expecting your King to return any moment to judge and reward you? What needs to change about your life so that you could be glad to see Him today?
You've looked at a lot of truths about God in these verses. Take some time to worship and thank Him for who He is and for all He's done for you.
How will you familiarize yourself with the examples of those in the Bible who lived by faith— established and patiently waiting for God's promises through obedient living— so that they can encourage and help you as you live the same way?
We hope this study has helped you understand what it means to live ready for Jesus to return and has challenged you to be ready for Him at any moment.
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