Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Persevere Under Trial

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
9The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. (James 1:2-12)

12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Our ideas of what the bible means by trials and when the bible actually means by trials can be pretty different. The really big things like serious illness, death or a break-up of a family life are quick to spring to mind, but James doesn’t limit trials to this sort of giant event. He includes in his idea of testing our everyday issues and anything that might present us with a choice of whether to follow God or not, a temptation that we may face is equally a test of our faith according to James as something we might consider as a way bigger deal.
The people who received James letter were Christians who had come from a Jewish context. Because they had turned away from Judaism, their social and economic ties with Jewish people had been cut, also it is thought that, as James tells us that they are “scattered among the nations” that they have fled Jerusalem because of persecution of the early church there. This posed all sorts of big scale problems for them; poverty, persecution, exploitation at work, legal action taken against them. But also their faith was being put to the test by more in built things, for example; pride, favoritism, fighting and inaction.
At times it is really easy to react negatively to these tests, and it makes sense that no-one wants to have to go through the things that sometimes face us in life. It is easy to get sucked into complaining and self-pity, or trying to find our own solutions to our problems or even stopping atjust finding something to take our minds off things. It is also easy to blame God for the difficult circumstance we’re in, and to get angry at him. Even if we don’t get angry at him, it is easy to think he doesn’t have things under control and to panic and try and fix things
This isn’t just easy, James tells us it is actually, factually deadly. The death James is talking about could be the break-up of a relationship or the break down of a friendship, but if we turn our backs on God James issues a blunt warning that the results won’t be pretty.
Perseverance James says we should have an attitude of patience, of perseverance and ultimately of joy. It sounds pretty crazy that we should be joyful in the middle of what feels like a catastrophe, but what James says shouldn’t be too radical. The advice James gives the people who he is writing to is to mourn their sin and forget about it, to be patient throughout their suffering and to look past the actual circumstance and trust God that he use it to bring them closer to maturity and completeness. Obviously, in the heat of the moment that is easier said than done, and it is much more natural not to react in this way, that’s why it is vital for us to pray for wisdom.
Having a Godly attitude towards suffering and testing circumstances will produce in us maturity and completeness that we might not lack anything, and also there is the promise of the crown of life to those who persevere under trial. These results can seem like they are all very much future
rewards that we won’t see this side of Heaven, but we will see impact in our lives now as we focus on a loving God.
James isn’t saying that hard times will be automatically easy for Christians, and I’m sure his readers knew that all too well, but he is saying we should be joyful know that he have a God we can trust who is able to use difficulty to produce good in his children.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

No comments:

Post a Comment