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Hearts Ready for The Coming Of The Lord at Hand

James 5:8 (ESV) … “You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

You also be patient: better “You too must be patient” (Brc, NAB, REB). James repeats what he has already said in 5:7. Just as there is nothing the farmer can do to speed up the process of rainfall and the harvest but to wait for God’s appointed time, so the Christian community must be patient even in the midst of exploitation and suffering. The Lord’s return will come at God’s time. The point then is not the length of time for waiting but the need to remain steady during that time.

Establish your hearts: the verb Establish means “to strengthen” or “to make stable.” “To establish your heart” is “to have an unwavering confidence.” The imperative has been rendered in various ways; for example, “be … stouthearted” (NEB, REB), “you must hold inflexibly to your purpose” (Brc), “do not lose heart” (NJB), “Keep your hopes high” (TEV), “stand firm” (NIV), “don’t give up” (CEV), or “You must be courageous” (similarly TNT).

Christians must be patient and courageous in the midst of suffering hardships because the coming of the Lord is at hand. The return of the Lord is the ground of their living hope. The verb is at hand is the same word used to express the “drawing near” of “the Kingdom of God” (Mark 1:15) and of “the end of all things” (1 Pet 4:7). James believes that the return of the Lord is near. The clause may be rendered “because the Lord’s coming will be soon” (NJB), “for it will not be long until the Lord comes” (Brc), or “because the Lord will return soon.”[1]

The coming of Christ is near. The ultimate epiphany is just around the corner. If we think otherwise, we tragically impoverish our souls. Most Christians think little of Christ’s return, or if they do think about the day they will see Christ, they associate it with the day of their death. This is a proper hope, but death is not necessarily a pleasant thing, and thus the expectation of seeing Christ is mixed with a certain fear of the dark veil. But it is not so with his Second Coming. It is all joy! And that singular joy is meant to be a boon to our souls.[2]

[1] Loh, I.-J., & Hatton, H. (1997). A handbook on the Letter from James (pp. 181–182). New York: United Bible Societies.

[2] Hughes, R. K. (1991). James: faith that works (p. 225). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.


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