James 5:9 “Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door.”
People say that “charity starts at home.” The same is true of patience. Nothing requires more patience of us than putting up with the people who are closest to us, the people who are fellow members of the family of God. Living and serving together with our brothers and sisters in the faith can test our patience for several reasons.
Sometimes we are tempted to grumble and complain because others are breathing down our necks. When we volunteer to serve in some way, the joy of Christian service is lost to the pressure others put upon us to perform. They criticize (sometimes only whispered behind our backs) when our service doesn’t live up to their expectations. “I’m not a professional. I’m just a volunteer doing my best,” we think to ourselves, and our patience grows thin.
On the flip side, we become frustrated when others don’t take their responsibilities seriously. Their work never seems to get done. Plans are laid, and projects are started, but the necessary follow through is missing. Maybe it makes more work for us. Maybe it keeps us from being able to finish the things we want to do. Maybe we just feel frustrated when the work of the church stalls and fails to go forward. It doesn’t take too many dead ends like this before the grumbling begins.
Perhaps you are one of those who faithfully presses ahead despite the pressures or the letdowns. But when the task is done, nobody seems to notice. It’s not that you are looking for a special awards ceremony, but it would be nice if at least someone noticed something happened. Everyone goes on their way as though you and your offering of time and ability never even existed.
Add it all together, and maybe we find ourselves in the same state of mind as a church council member of a congregation I served for a short time. He stormed out of the meeting after single-handedly planning the church picnic, arranging the activities, purchasing all the supplies, taking care of the publicity. All that the other council members had to say was that he chose a bad location for the volleyball net.
James isn’t warning us about grumbling about each other here to approve of the shabby treatment we receive. His point is this: our grumbling about each other involves us in loveless judging of each other. This sin opens us up to God’s judgment. Every day we live under God’s own grace to us. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Let’s be so patient, too, and live in a state of grace in our relationship with one another.