Welcome to week 2 of our study of the book of James. Last week we looked at the key element to understanding the commands and instructions that James is going to give us in this letter. I highlighted how James saw himself, and the people he was writing to and how we need to see ourselves not primarily as what we do, but who we are in Christ…
Our culture has a disconnect. it is between the known truth that if you want to be good at anything, you must experience trials, and the desire that we have as a people to avoid at all costs the pain that we must go through to obtain that skill, or attribute. There is a thinking that is prevalent in todays evangelical culture that thinks that somehow after we become Christians, that life should be easy for us, and that we are meant to have no struggles, or trials or hardships. Many people think that once you find Jesus, it is gonna be great with just you and him walking and in hand into the sunset. The only problem with this type of thinking is the Bible. It just doesn’t say that. This text is just one of a pile of texts that instruct us in the truth that our trials are not a hinderance to our growth in our Christian life, they are the means of our grown thin our Christian life. Trials are the means by which God’s purposes for us are brought about.
Think for a minute. What do you want to be 5, 10, 15 years from now? I understand that how old you are will impact how you answer that question. Thats pretty broad question I know, let me make it more specific, I am going to say some descriptive words and you raise your hand if at your funeral you want these words used to describe you. Lazy, flaky, unsure, waffling, lacking integrity, bum, slacker, slob, scrub, derelict, fallen short, unfulfilled. What? No body? Ok, lets try some other words: solid, faithful, reliable, secure, confident, unwavering, adamant, enduring, never-failing, resolute, single-minded, unflinching, wholehearted, lacking in nothing.
Ok, so, if you just had your hand raised for those things you want to be described as you just signed yourself up for something, you know what it is? “trials of various kinds.” Congratulations! Bet you are excited huh? I know what your thinking, we are an advanced society, we have scientific research that can help us achieve this faster right? We have microwaves, and drive thru’s, express checkout, overnight mail, bullet trains, concord jets, fast forward. Surely we have a way to bypass, or at the least speed up this process. You know, I wish there was a way around this truth, but honestly, that would cause us to miss out on the entire point of being steadfast. How do you know if something is steadfast? Well, you have to test it don’t you? And if you don’t test it, it is unproven, and frankly, unproven steadfastness is not worth much of anything is it?
I am going to read the text for this morning’s message and I want you to listen for something as I read. Listen for what the text tells us we are to do to be complete, lacking in nothing.
God uses hardships to make us steadfast in Him, lacking in nothing.
- Hardships of various kinds. God strips us of ourselves.
- Natural: Sickness, getting old, things outside of human control
- Other People imposed. Heartbreak, being let down, being sinned against.
- Self Imposed: temptation is a trial. We cause the majority of our own suffering. V. 13… So why trials?
- Test our faith: true faith runs to God. What do trials teach us? We are not in control, we need Help, God is faithful. They produce steadfastness in us. So that we cling to Him alone..
- they show us we lack wisdom, and point us to the Lord. Prayer is a releasing of the illusion of control, and placing of our trust into the hands of God.
- They remind you of eternity: this world is not our home. you will pass away. V. 9-11
- To produce a people who lack nothing, because their Faith is secure in Christ. We are perfected and lack nothing when we are clinging only to Jesus. His work on the cross, and his provision for the future. When you realize that al you need is Christ, and you have him, you are lacking nothing!
- God Gives Wisdom (something that cannot be taken away) v.5
- God Gives us the Crown of Life. Rev. 2:10
- He gives us every good and perfect gift. What is the best and most perfect gift? Jesus.That is how we can consider it all Joy. V.17
- Do you see your current trials as a hindrance to your growth, or the means by which you are growing?
- When you face trials, where do you go to “escape”?
- What do you need wisdom for today?