Tuesday, March 21, 2006

James 1:1-4 Responding to Trials (part 3)

James 1:1-4
James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. [2] Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, [3] knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. [4] And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James teaches us a third principle for dealing with trials in verses 3and 4. We must know that our trials have an important purpose. If God is Sovereign and He is, then that means that God is in control of my situation and responsible for the trials in my life. If God is good and He is, that means the trials God plans for my life must have an important purpose!

James tells us that one of God’s purposes is to build perseverance or endurance into our lives. A particular commentary describes endurance as faith stretched out. Endurance involves trusting God for a long duration. Folks, we cannot really know the depth of our faith until we see how we react under pressure and over time.

Diamonds are coal, subjected to intense pressure over a period of time. Without pressure, coal remains coal. The testing of your faith is the combined pressure that life brings to bear on you. Endurance is the intended outcome of this testing. It’s one thing to say you have faith but it’s another thing to prove it. Trials reveal whether or not our faith is genuine. As the singer says, “I’m just an old chunk of coal, but I’m going to be a diamond someday!”

James goes one to say that endurance leads to mature Christian character. That’s what he means by “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” As I said yesterday, God’s ultimate goal is to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ. When the Bible talks about being conformed into Christ’s image it means that we become like him in character.

Paul agrees with James about the purpose of trials in Romans 5:1-5. Look closely at verses 3 and 4. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, [2] through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. [3] And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; [4] and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; [5] and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Do you see why trials are so important? First, they verify and strengthen your faith! Second, they make you more like Christ. The next time you’re tempted to give up, run away, or mumble and complain, remember that your struggles with adversity have meaning and purpose. Don’t get bitter! Get better by embracing your trials with joy knowing that each painful step of the way you are becoming more like Christ!

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