See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and have seen the outcome from the Lord. The Lord is very compassionate and merciful, (5:11 HCSB).
I couldn’t help but wonder how terribly horrific the trials must have been for these Jewish believers. Endurance and perseverance are themes that run from beginning to end of this letter. And as the ultimate example of tenacity in various trials, James references Job.
We often do the same when we hear of those who are suffering insurmountable hardships, when life seems anything but fair, when the hits keep coming and they can’t seem to catch a break. I currently have two dear friends who are living that Job-life for far too long; tragedies that no one saw coming. Two women of faith who love the Lord. And almost daily in my prayers I find myself wondering how they find the strength to get up and continue in the life they now live. But in truth, I know the answer. For both choose to live each day, actually each moment, in full dependence on Him Who Is Very Compassionate and Merciful.
This chapter begins with a prophetic declaration on those who have made this life their hope, setting their sights on accumulating all they can lay their hands on, while emptying the pockets of the righteous. But God’s judgment will come, and their temporary treasures and passing pleasures will die with them in the day of judgment.
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you, (5:1).
It’s another reminder to these believers who are undergoing a myriad of sufferings at the hands of the unrighteous of how they are to endure: Wait in faith; Jesus is coming again to restore His righteous justice.
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord…(5:7)
And it is another reminder that endurance requires doing the right works of faith and leaving judgment to God.
Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin, (James 4:17)
Because He Is Very Compassionate and Merciful, He will be faithful to bless His children who live not for the moment but for His outcome, and have endured until that very day.
We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful, (5:11).
The NASB translation conveys a picture of the Lord brimming and overflowing, full of Compassion and Mercy. But truly, mere words are incapable of fully capturing How Very Compassionate and Merciful He Is.
Consider Him Who Is Very Compassionate and Merciful
Compassionate and Merciful. Two sides of the same coin really. In the Greek, the words share the idea of demonstrating or showing great affection, concern, care, and pity. They are adjectives describing His Compassion and Mercy in action. And God is moved to an abundance of action by the suffering of His children.
From Louw- Nida Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament:
Compassionate: 25.52 πολύσπλαγχνος, ον: pertaining to great affection and compassion—‘very compassionate, with much affection.’
Merciful: 88.81 οἰκτίρμων, ον: (derivative of οἰκτίρω ‘to have mercy,’ 88.80) pertaining to showing mercy or compassion—‘merciful, compassionate.
Because He Is Very Compassionate and Merciful, He is moved to act. But trials can be deafening, and faith must speak louder than feelings. Persevering through the pain of trials requires confidence in the character of our God.
And as James reminded his Jewish readers to believe in the attributes of God they had surely heard before, we too are reminded through His God-Breathed Word to fix our minds on the unchanging truth of our incomparable God Who Is Very Compassionate and Merciful.
There is no God like Him Who Is Very Compassionate and Merciful. He pardons our rebellious iniquity, relinquishes His anger, delights in His unchanging love, and eradicates our sin.
Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity
And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in unchanging love.
19 He will again have compassion on us;
He will tread our iniquities under foot.
Yes, You will cast all their sins
Into the depths of the sea, (Micah 7:18-19).
There is no God like Him Who Is Very Compassionate and Merciful. He is moved to bestow life on those who are dead in their sin through His kind grace-gift of faith, not of works of the flesh.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast, (Ephesians 2:4-5).
There is no God like Him Who Is Very Compassionate and Merciful. He Who did not spare His own Son will never withhold His Compassion and Mercy.
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32).
How do we respond to Him Who Is Very Compassionate and Merciful?
Much life faith without works is dead, Compassion and Mercy without works would offer no help or hope, leaving all of us lifeless and hopeless. Oh, what a glorious blessing that He does not simply hold the attributes of Compassion and Mercy, but He is moved by His very character to lavishly distribute His great affection, concern, care, and pity.
And as we fix our eyes on Him Who Is Very Compassionate and Merciful, we will be enabled to persevere through the pain of trials with full confidence because the truth of Who He Is will speak louder than feelings, silencing the deafening doubts of our trials and moving us into faith that works by enduring until the day He comes again.
Because He Is Very Compassionate and Merciful, let us patiently persevere as we wait for what He has promised He will do.
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains, (5:7).
As we rely on Him Who Is Very Compassionate and Merciful, let us ask Him to use us to encourage and strengthen others.
You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near, (5:8).
Oh, that He would silence our tongue as we keep our eyes on Him Who Is Very Compassionate and Merciful, that He would find us living in faith when He comes again.
Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door, (5:9).
And when life seems unfair, let us remember, we are not singled out or forgotten. For suffering is a given to all who name the Lord as Savior.
As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord, (5:10).
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, (2 Timothy 3:12).
We must never allow feelings to deafen the Truth. He Is Very Compassionate and Merciful and He will be faithful to meet our needs in our trials so that we can be used to meet the needs of others.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God, (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
As James wraps up his letter, he offers more Wisdom from Above for persevering in trials (5:12-16): don’t put hope in our own plans for the future but endure in faith; pray in the sufferings and praise in the blessings; pray in faith for healings and in humility for forgiveness; fully trust Him Who Is Very Compassionate and Merciful.
When we pray in faith, we are never to fix our hope on our prayers, for we know there is nothing in us that can accomplish His will. But when we have been declared righteous through faith in Christ, we can earnestly pray with confidence, knowing that because He Is Very Compassionate and Merciful, He will open the skies and pour out His heavenly provision to produce fruit in our lives.
…The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit, (5:16-18).
And our response will take us full circle to where James began. Let us ask the Lord to enable us to find joy in the trials as we trust Him Who Is Very Compassionate and Merciful, that He will Compassionately and Mercifully mature our faith with works of endurance.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, (James 1:2-4).
Oh, that we would persevere in faith as He conforms us in His likeness, that He would mature us to act as His faithful children who extend His Compassion and Mercy to any who have strayed from the Truth, that they might to turn back to Him Who Is Very Compassionate and Merciful.
My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins, (5:19).