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Bible Passage James 5:8

James 5:8 Establish Your Hearts

  • Tony Raker
Date preached February 19, 2023

How does one stabilize his emotions once and for all?  Only by coming to understand that the present distress is only a part of a God-designed plan for the ages: nothing has gone awry.

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

  • Grammatical Usage:Be patient” in the Greek is “makrothumeó”, meaning “suffer long; persevere”; “establish” or “stérizó” means, “direct myself towards; fix fast”; command“hearts” or “kardia” meaning, “inner self.”
  • Literal Interpretation:You also, in the midst of suffering, persevere. Discipline yourself (in the Lord) and fix your inner-self, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
  • Contextual/Comparison: God keeps His Word: God continually uses His Word. Given Jesus is coming soon, the expectation can only influence our living and our serving, for in the New Testament the truth of the second advent is always presented as a very practical matter impacting character and conduct. What difference will it make to us if we believe that our Lord is coming soon, at any moment? Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4:7-11:
  1. If we believe that Jesus is soon coming, we shall live a calm and an ordered life.

See what v. 7 says. Notice that he did not only write, “Be clear minded…”; but “Therefore be clear minded…” In other words, because the time is short, then “lead an ordered and a quiet life.” The early Christians needed this exhortation, for they were surrounded by those who were godless and antagonistic to all who claimed allegiance to our Lord Jesus Christ. We need the same exhortation today, for we are living in a world which has no time for God, and we need to be kept from being dragged down to the level of the pagan society around us. We need also to experience calmness and confidence as we hear of “wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6), so that instead of being filled with alarm and panic we are kept “in perfect peace” (Isaiah 26:3; Proverbs 1:33).

  1. If we believe that Jesus is soon coming, we shall be men and women of prayer.

In v. 7, Peter goes on to urge his readers to be “self-controlled so that you can pray.”  The word “self-controlled” suggests disciplining himself in prayer and guarding against drowsiness or slackness. We are to do this, not for the benefit which we shall receive ourselves, but for the benefit our prayers will bestow upon others. There is always a reflex result when we pray, for in praying down blessings upon others we are wonderfully enriched ourselves (Job 42:10). The command to pray is hard to understand. If God wants to bless us, why do we need to pray? The answer is that He has ordained it this way (Ezekiel 36:37). There are some things which God will do if we pray, which He will not do if we fail to pray. Therefore, with vigilance and diligence we are to be “self-controlled so that you can pray” (Ephesians 6:18). Surely the imminence of the Savior’s return should spur us on to pray.

  1. If we believe that Jesus is soon coming, we shall love one another fervently.

Notice the challenge in v. 8. We are to be loving “above all”, meaning above all other things, and we are to love “deeply”. This love is to be experienced “among (y)ourselves”. Why are we to love like this? One reason is given: “For love covers over…” Whose sins does love cover over? Our sins, or the other person’s? It means that love will always find a way to forgive and forget (Galatians 5:22 and compare Romans 5:5). That is the only way to love others. With God’s love filling our hearts we can love everyone deeply, or ‘fervently’ as the King James Version has it.

  1. If we believe that Jesus is soon coming, we shall set out to be friendly.

This is the deeper meaning of v. 9. The reference is to opening our homes to friends and strangers. This was a very necessary ministry in the first century; but there is still a great work to be carried on along this line today. The root of the word “hospitality”, as it is used here, has to do with friendliness, not just in the home but in the heart. This is one way in which the love of v. 8 will express itself.

  1. If we believe that Jesus is soon coming, we shall be busy in the Lord’s work.

In v. 10 we are reminded that God has entrusted to us all some spiritual gift, or gifts, which we must exercise for the benefit of the saints. The Holy Spirit has imparted some special “divine endowment” to every believer. Our responsibility is to exercise the gifts for a neglected spiritual gift will fade (Judges 5:23; Amos 6:1).

  1. If we believe that Jesus is soon coming, we shall speak boldly in His Name.
  2. 11 means that we are each to be “a mouthpiece of God”, and that we should serve Him “with the strength God provides”; that is, we should speak not in our own strength but in His strength and with the enabling of the Holy Spirit. All around us there are souls who need to be told about the Savior. Who will speak to them if we do not? (Acts 4:19-20). There would be a mighty revival if all who name the Name of Christ would begin to speak about Him to their relatives and friends. What excuse have we for not doing so?
  3. If we believe that Jesus is soon coming, we shall do everything to the glory of God.

See how v. 11 concludes this section of scripture; and compare these words with 1 Corinthians 10:31. What does it mean to do everything to the glory of God? It means that we shall seek with God’s enabling to think, speak and act only in ways which are pleasing to Him and which honor His Name.  Colossians 3:17 for a good illustration of this.

  • Conclusion: Perhaps Today! This is Peter’s encouragement and warning.