Wednesday 21 August 2019
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
The Greek word ‘stenazete’, which is translated here as ‘grumble’, is only used once in the New Testament. It can also be translated as ‘complain’ or ‘groan’. However, this is not the only time the Bible addresses grumbling:
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labour in vain.
We know that no human being is perfect, and this includes Christians. There may be another Christian that we know who has done something wrong. We may feel that we have a genuine reason to complain about his or her behaviour.
Have you ever complained about someone or spoken negatively about someone and then suddenly been told to keep quiet because the person you are criticising is standing behind you? Or have you ever been in a workplace where there is an animated conversation which stops abruptly as soon as the boss walks into the room?
James is addressing the problem of Christians grumbling against each other or criticising each other. He has already dealt with the topics of cursing, slandering and judging people (James 3:9 and James 4:11-12) and as he returns to a similar issue, he puts it in the context of the return of Jesus who is the Judge.
We know that we should stop bickering or using unprofessional language if our boss walks into the room. So how much more should we watch our language when we realise that Jesus could come back at any moment. The Judge is standing at the door!
‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged.For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
The example of a boss about to enter the room is actually not a strong enough example. It is possible to give a good impression to a boss when we are in his or her presence. If we moan and complain about our colleagues there is a chance that our boss will never find out. But if we are complaining about our Christian brothers and sisters, God already knows this.
Let’s thank God today that he is full of compassion and mercy. And let’s remember that Jesus, our judge and the judge of all people is standing at the door.
Thomas Halley, Sawyers Church Leadership Team