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
Reading these verses out of context, I recall the Old Testament promises fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ. But James writes post-crucifixion. Christ has come into the world. The world, greedy tenants of God’s creation, killed Him for wealth and power.
Preceding verses promise judgment on those who put wealth over humanity. Christ has come, but the world is still dominated by those who covet the riches of God’s creation and would kill even God to secure their desires. The crucifixion revealed the truth of human sacrifice, that humanity kills for gain, not for God. Christ forgave those who blindly joined the mass murder. But we must see the truth now.
We have witnessed the evil of seeking power through condemning others, scapegoating as diversion from the truth. Judging is the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We know too well how belief in the rightness of a cause can quickly be turned to the service of greed, murder, and warfare. This is the world we live in, as hard as the world of the prophets.
But there is another tree, with another fruit: the tree Christ hung and died upon to show us the fruits of the Spirit. We are promised God’s mercy here, now, if we persevere. Seeds planted in the hearts of believers will grow and spread. Though suffering remains, we are warned again not to ‘grumble’ or judge one another. The chapter ends urging us to prayer, taking our suffering to God and offering help to those who lose the Way.
As we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, we see blame, judgment, and war throughout the world. We must stay the course. Those whose strength is in condemnation and murder will never bring the peace we long for. Christ forgave the mob that cheered His murder, knowing they were blind. Doing so He opens our eyes and offers His peace. We nourish ourselves by following His example. The fruit of His spirit is the only way to the peace we long for.
Contributed by Claudia Driver