Profiting from Trials
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
[During the expository teaching of James 1 back in June, we talked about the refining work of trials, and that role in growing and maturing us in the faith. To James we should be so intent and passionate about Jesus, that we rejoice in the growth and the patience that God is producing even as we go through the trouble.
Again last week we all pretty much admitted that we pray more when enduring hardships and struggles. So what should we think when Christians are unable to "hold-fast" to their faith and endure when troubles come?
In John 16 the whole chapter is Jesus talking to His disciples about persecution, sorrow, and tribulation. We usually talk about religious persecution in other countries, but this week we all witnessed it here in America. This week a mom who I will refer to as an anti-religious bigot, prompted her son to ask Rick Perry how old the earth is? He answered he didn't know but he thinks it's pretty old. Then mom then says ask him about evolution and Perry answers that it's a theory that has some gaps in it. And finally she reveals the depth of her bigotry by saying "ask him why he doesn't believe in science", as if an appreciation and respect for science forces you to swallow evolutionary theory whole. Well is you watched MSNBC cover this you would think Perry said the "moon is made of green cheese".
Gallop has been tracking views on Human evolution for decades and the most recent results show 40% believe God created man in their present form, 38% believe man as evolved with God directing the process, and 16% believe that man evolved and God had no part in the process. So Perry's comments put him in line with the vast majority of the population , but because he is a southern Republican and identifies himself as a religious conservative, the bigot want those questions out there, so the media can critique his "back-woods" beliefs; this is religious persecution in America.
At the end of John 16 Jesus wrapped up his teaching on trouble with this - 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."]
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
[The words translated double-minded are "di" and psyche not just two minds but two lives or two souls. We have heard of people who lead a double life, to the extent that friends and family had no idea about the other life the other relationships and activities that people feel the need to hide. You can imagine the confusion, and conflict someone like that would experience. But that is how James describes the doubting Christian, even calling him "unstable"
In psychology doctors have identified something called multiple-personality-disorder, where a person has a completely different identity that will emerge from time to time and dominate the "common" personality of the afflicted person. Now we would identify someone like that as sick; but think of how little attention we pay to doubting Christians. But we have to understand that doubt and fear are thieves that rob us of God's power.]
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
[Talk is cheap, and we need to be careful of uttering these "harmless" little sayings like "God bless you" when we do not intend to help or pray for people in need. I'm thankful that when our Church goes on missions trips they don't treat it like another vacation, but that take real help to people in need, with the Gospel, medicine, and even construction work.]
18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your[d] works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
[So think about the works that perfect your faith. What do you do week by week to live a faith filled life? If you think you lack opportunity, ask anyone in the church office what you can do to minister in church and in the community. If you already have the opportunity, I would encourage you to act, "make hay while the sun is shining".
I was looking at an outline of John's first epistle and it looked like this: John starts with the truth of the Gospel and the reality of Jesus, then he adds obedience to the commands of Jesus and the call of God on your life; and concludes with devotion that persistent passion that keeps you moving down that lifetime journey of truth Jesus talked about in John 14.
Let me close with this story that illustrates how actions speak louder than words.
A man was traveling in New England and decided to stay for a few days so he seek lodging at a country inn. As he enters he sees some older men silently rocking on the front porch. After settling in he decides to visit the men on the front porch. He spots an empty rocker sits down and starts to rock. Not hearing any conversation he tries to start one "Nice weather, eh?" No response. "Must be nice to pass a quiet evening out here? But the other men kept quietly rocking. Finally the frustrated man blurts out "is there a law against talking in this town?" Finally he gets an answer when one man leans over and says, "no law, we just like to make sure anything we say is an improvement on the silence".
James 1:19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
So James was against empty words and empty faith, he believed that following Jesus required effort, humility, and wisdom, but those things would produce ample evidence of the life that was changed by the Holy Spirit of God.]