Summary: Today we’re going to look at how our knowledge of the Truth and the maturity of our faith can determine the level of joy we can experience, even when life seems to be hitting us over the head with a hammer.
How To Experience Joy During Trials (Part 2)
Preached by Pastor Tony Miano
Pico Canyon Community Church
November 12, 2000
A Little Levity: With the dust settling from our recent elections, I had an opportunity to review some sound bites that were overlooked by mainstream media. One reporter asked the presidential and vice-presidential candidates a very simple question. “Why did the chicken cross the road?” After some thoughtful consideration, this is what they had to say.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE
I fight for the chickens and I am fighting for the chickens right now. I will not give up on the chickens crossing the road! I will fight for the chickens and I will not disappoint them.
GOVERNOR GEORGE W. BUSH
I don’t believe we need to get the chickens across the road. I say give the road to the chickens and let them decide. The government needs to let go of strangling the chickens so they can get across the road.
I believe that every chicken has the right to worship his or her God in his or her own way. Crossing the road is a spiritual journey and no chicken should be denied the right to cross the road in his or her own way.
Chickens are big-time because they have wings. They could fly if they wanted to. Chickens don’t want to cross the road. They don’t need help crossing the road. In fact, I’m not interested in crossing the road myself.
Chickens are misled into believing there is a road by the evil tire makers. Chickens aren’t ignorant, but our society pays tire makers to create the need for these roads and then lures chickens into believing there is an advantage to crossing them. Down with the roads, up with chickens.
To steal a job from a decent, hardworking American.
Introduction: Last week we began our look at three keys to experiencing joy in the midst of our day-to-day trials. The first key, which we considered last week, is the attitude of our heart. Today we’re going to look at how our knowledge of the Truth and the maturity of our faith can determine the level of joy we can experience, even when life seems to be hitting us over the head with a hammer.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ~ James 1:2-4
Key #2: Our knowledge of the truth
. . . knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance (1:3).
In verse three, we have the rational response to, what on the surface, seems like a very irrational claim made in verse two. The question you may be asking yourself might go something like this. How and why can I react to the trials in my life with such an unusual response as joy?
We can respond to trials with an attitude of joy in our hearts because of what we know. What we know is that the testing of our faith produces endurance. How do we know that? We know, we know with certainty, that this is the case because of our knowledge of the truth. Our knowledge of the truth comes from two sources— experience and Scripture.
Churches in today’s society can rise and fall, form and split, on the relationship between these two elements of knowledge. There are churches that place so much emphasis on human experience that they look at God’s Word as restrictive to what they would deem the moving of the Spirit. These churches are often referred to as charismatic or liberal.
While at the opposite end of the pendulum’s swing, there are those churches that completely discount the validity of any kind of human experience as if it infringes upon the supremacy or authority of God’s Word. These churches are often characterized as ultra-conservative or fundamentalist. Neither stereotype, which—by the way—is most often given the label by people within the body of Christ, is completely accurate. And both extremes miss the mark.
Our knowledge of the truth—the truth that God uses times of testing in our lives to produce endurance—must come from a balance between our understanding of His Word and a biblical assessment of our experiences.
In fact, the Greek word for “know” or “knowing” is ginosko. “[The word] carries [with it] the idea of [having a] full understanding of something that is beyond the merely factual and that often comes from personal experience” (MacArthur, p. 25).
So the meaning of the word, in and of itself, goes against the grain of this notion that human experience should be discounted outright. The word “knowing” is in the present tense, which means that James was reminding his readers that they already had this knowledge and were to continue being knowledgeable about the reasons and results of testing. James’ readers were not simply to have a perception about what their trials meant. They were to come to a realization of what God was doing through their trials.