Throughout this letter, James wrote about the lure of materialism and the danger of believing that success was God’s reward. At the end of chapter 4, James called out those who claimed their success was a measure of God’s pleasure, saying they boasted in arrogance. James continued his condemnation of that arrogance, being clear that the material makings of success in this world would decay and be the source of ultimate destruction. The arrogant will destroy themselves by putting their faith in material gain.
James then reminded his readers that the characteristics of godly people are patience and steadfastness. He reminded his readers of the prophets like Habakkuk, Nahum, Micah, Amos, and Joel, all of whom asked God, “How long will we suffer?” God’s reply was inevitably, “Wait and see.” The kingdoms the prophets spoke against have long since turned to dust. The kingdom of this current age, with its faith in secularism and humanism will also turn to dust.
Our responsibility is to focus on building relationships, not quarreling or grumbling. We look forward to the fulfillment of God’s promises, while remembering that the mercy and compassion we found in Jesus is still being extended to all the world (Matthew 23- 25; John 3). While we wait in steadfast expectation, we should spend our time, not worrying about the future, but in establishing our hearts in the trustworthiness of God’s promises (Psalm 1; Habakkuk 3; Joel 2; Nahum 1; Zephaniah 3:17).