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To what extent is your life directed by the knowledge that Christ is coming back? Much of our thinking and behavior is shaped by what we can see of present circumstances or past events. Yet Scripture speaks forcefully of Christ's return as a fact that should be directing how we live now. Christians are to be motivated by the certainty of this future event.
When I had been a Christian less than a year, I attended a conference for the InterVarsity chapters in our state. Among those in my cabin was a student from another campus who made a lasting impression on my life through one passing remark. During a discussion in the cabin about the events surrounding Christ's return, this student suddenly commented, "What a great day that will be!" He spoke briefly but with such fervor that I could not forget his words. I realized that the return of Christ was a fact of knowledge for me but had not become a moving force on my emotions, attitudes and behavior.
James writes now about a forward-looking stance of faith in which the realities of the future affect outlooks and behavior in the present. His flow of thought can be outlined in three sections evident in his three addresses in 4:13, 5:1 and 5:7. The first two begin with identical words, age nyn ("now listen" in NIV, or "come now" in the more literal NASB), and are negative in thrust. In the third section, James returns to his loving address, brothers, along with then, oun, showing that his thrust here will be his conclusion from what has preceded. The three sections are thus tied together and can be summarized as: "don't be arrogant; don't be materialistic; instead, be patient."