James 5:7-9 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. (8) You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (9) Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!
A farmer understands the principles of sowing and reaping, and the patience it takes to enjoy the “precious fruit of the earth”. James writes of the “early and latter rain” as a reminder that this precious fruit is the result of a completed process. The farmer does more than just wait for rain. He must prepare the soil, sow the seed, tend to the plants, and harvest the fruit. But he also knows that no matter what he does, he is dependent on the rain.
So the farmer waits patiently for the “latter” rain that he might enjoy the precious fruit. In the same way, Christians must wait patiently until the coming of the Lord, our “latter rain”, to enjoy the precious fruit of salvation. In the mean time, we do just as the farmer, we do what is necessary for the latter rains to bring about the harvest. Rain only brings about a yield when all is ready.
Verse eight begins as verse seven, with an admonition to be patient. James then says, “Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” The idea of establishing your heart has to do with firmly fixing your feelings, interests, and purpose on serving God. Do not waver or become weary when difficulty presents itself.
Unlike the latter rains of nature, which can sometimes fail us, the “coming of the Lord is at hand”. It will not change or be altered by earthly events. I know this was written almost two thousand years ago, but when compared to eternity it is no time at all. Our life will soon be over and our eternal abode will be set.
In the context of this passage, James is dealing with the suffering and faithfulness of Christians. Quite often people become fretful and impatience when hardships arise, and can turn their anxiety on others. They may complain, murmur, and find fault with others instead of being patient with those going through the same kind of difficulties.
The danger of this kind of reaction is clearly stated by James, in verse 9. “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! Every Child of God will be tested and challenged, and many will fail. We need to support one another in difficult times by being patient and eagerly awaiting with coming of our Lord.