How the Farmer Waits


“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.”—James 5:7

Here is a return to the point of the letter and the reason James wrote it. The victory has been won, so why are we still here? The apparent answer is that Christ has a purpose for this world and a role for us to play within it. You have work to do—but not “work” the way you or I are tempted to understand it.

“Be patient,” says James. He does not say, Put your back into it. Nor does he say, Be quick about what God commands you to do. “Be patient” is precisely the opposite of this.

I’ve argued in these posts that James’ reference to our being “justified by works” is not a description of earning God’s grace by effort, which we cannot hope to do. The fuller context of James’ letter makes this clear.

James 5:7 is part of this context. We struggle in this world, as preceding passages in James make clear. But as we do, we are also the means and material of God’s kingdom advancing. The analogy James offers is that of a farmer. The “good works” out of redeemed and sanctified lives grow up as the fruit grows up from the soil.

There is no forcing it. The fruit doesn’t grow because the farmer wills it to ripen. The fruit doesn’t grow according to the farmer’s direction or timetable. Yet still the farmer is there, patiently tending the ground.

That patience is trust in what will come. The kingdom coming through you, the unique and special fruit of the life that you have cultivated by faith, arises naturally—arises out of grace. In fact, the time of your trials might be the most fertile time of all, the very season in which this fruit is spreading its roots deep.

[31 Days of James]