The fifth mark or character trait of a spiritually mature follower of Christ is this – SPIRTUALLY MATURE PEOPLE KNOW WHAT IS TO WAIT UPON THE LORD’S TIMING AND LEARN TO PRAY WHILE DOING SO.
James 5:7,11 says, “Be patient then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming… As you know, we consider blessed those who persevere.” v. 16 says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Notice the words “patient” and “prayer”. God says the mark of a mature person is that they are patient and prayerful. Those are the two keywords in chapter five. “Patient” is used four times. “Prayer” is used seven times. The mark of a mature person is they are patient and they are prayerful. Those two go together. They express an attitude of dependence upon God.
James 5:7 – “Be patient then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, how patient he is for the fall and spring rain. You too be patient. Stand firm because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged.” He’s saying, “Be patient.” He gives the illustration of the farmer. If anybody has to have patience it’s a farmer. A farmer does a lot of waiting. They plants a seed, then they wait, they pray, they hope, they expect …. There are no overnight crops. Just like a farmer has to wait, sometimes we have to wait. We have to wait on God in answer to prayer. We have to wait on God for a miracle. We have to wait on God to work in our lives. We have to wait for people we love to give their lives to Christ. We have to wait for God to change a heart.We have to wait. Patience is ark of maturity. The only way you learn patience is by waiting on God and trusting Him.
Habakkuk 2:3 (LB) says, “But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day.” That’s a good word for us. Spiritually mature people have learned to trust the Lord’s plan and the Lord’s timing and the Lord’s way. It’s a trust issue. We have to ask ourselves – “do we believe God knows better than us?” and will we wait upon the Lord?
Isaiah 40:31 (KJV) says, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” God promises us this – if will trust Him and not our own thinking, our own wisdom, our own way – The Lord will renew us, He will strengthen us, He will guide us, He will enable us. So, I must learn to stop running, stop complaining, stop trusting in my puny human reasoning. This is spiritual maturity.
My children had to learn the difference between “No” and “Not yet”. For a long time they thought that “not yet” meant “we’re not going to get to do it”. They thought “not yet” meant “No”– but it didn’t. It just meant “Not yet”. When they began to trust Sharon and I and know our heart and character, they began to understand that “not yet” meant if it was part of the Lord’s will, it would happen in the Lord’s timing.
Many times God will say to you, “Not yet.” He doesn’t mean “No”. He doesn’t mean He’s not going to answer your prayer. He just saying, “You’ve got to wait, I want you to develop, to grow, to mature”.
James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it wouldn’t rain and it didn’t rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed and the heavens gave rain and the earth produced its crop.”
Elijah was patient and prayerful man. He knew how to trust the character of God. So, he waited upon the Lord. He didn’t strike out impulsively. He didn’t take matters into his own hands. And the result was that Elijah became a mighty man of prayer. I’m convinced more followers of Christ don’t experience a powerful prayer life simply because they haven’t learned to wait upon the Lords best timing. God will take you through deep waters to develop this kind of trust and patience and prayer. Will you wait upon Him? Will you trust His timing in your life. Will you stop running?
All of us want instant change, instant answers, instant growth. That’s not how spiritual maturity happens. It takes a lifetime. Stay the course. Keep trusting the Lord. Let God have His way in your life for the rest of your life.
Proverbs 3:5-7 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.”