Summary: As we’ve taken these nine tests of faith througout the book of James, we haven’t gotten the results we were hoping for. That’s why we need to show God’s grace by remediating each other.
1. Results that show the need for remediation
2. Responsibilities for providing remediation
3. Rewards for giving remediation
As many of you know, I used to write curriculum for our military schools. And one of the things you have to do when you write curriculum is that you have to write tests. As a matter of fact, we would always write the tests before we actually wrote the classroom curriculum. We did that for a reason. Now, it wasn’t so that our classroom instructors could teach the test. As a matter of fact, they weren’t allowed to do that. We did it that way so that we could make sure that our students got the things out of the lessons that we wanted them to. We would use the tests as a measuring tool. After a student came through one of our classes, we would measure them to make sure they got it. Of course, there were times where they didn’t get it. A few people didn’t get it because they refused to for whatever reason. Those people usually didn’t even make it to the test. They got weeded out before we even got there. But some people just didn’t get it. And when it was test time, that was very evident. But our schools had a policy. It was called “remediation”. Remediation basically means that we were not going to let a student fail. If a student showed effort, we were going to work with them until they were able to legitimately pass the test. We didn’t give anybody any answers. We didn’t make it any easier on them. As a matter of fact, it was often harder on them. But we did what it took to equip them to pass the class. It meant a lot of extra effort on our instructors’ part, but it was worth it. If a secular organization like the military is that concerned with people passing leadership tests… don’t you think that we as the church ought to be that much more concerned with people passing spiritual tests? Tests with eternal consequences? This morning we finish up our journey through the book of James. And each week as we’ve gone through the book, James has given us spiritual tests of faith. He started his letter like this: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations. Knowing this that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Consider it joy when God tests your faith. Why? Because He tests your faith for a reason. He tests your faith so you can know that it’s real. He tests your faith so that you will patiently endure till He calls you home. He tests your faith in order to make your relationship with Him complete and full and lacking nothing. But how often do we sound like the elementary school student to his teacher? “Teacher, why do we have to have so many tests?” Or, “My teacher’s mean—she gives too many tests.” Why does the teacher give tests? To make you secure in the lessons she’s taught you. Why does God give tests? To make you secure in the faith that He’s given you. Over these past few months as we’ve taken these nine tests of faith… we’ve probably not gotten the results we were hoping for. I don’t know anyone that has gotten all A’s. As a matter of fact, probably very few of us have gotten a passing score. That’s why we need God’s grace. And through God’s grace, He’s given us each other. He’s given us each other for the purpose of remediation. This morning, I want each of us to refuse to let any of our brothers or sisters fail the tests. I want each of us to commit to remediating each other till we can pass the tests in front of us with flying colors. In order to do that, we need to look at three products of test taking. The first product of test taking is results that show we need remediation. After all, we can’t know what needs to be fixed if we don’t know what’s broken. Results that show we need remediation.
Notice what James says in verse 19, “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth…” He starts off by reminding us of who he’s talking to. He’s talking to his brothers and sisters in Christ. Remember that this is a letter that James wrote to the church he pastored. It was written to the members of the Jerusalem church who had been scattered throughout the Middle East because of persecution. So, these were professing Christians he was writing to. Good, fine, upstanding church members. But just because you’re a fine upstanding church member doesn’t mean you are a Christian, does it? Just because you’ve been baptized doesn’t mean you’re a believer, does it? Just because you do all the right things and say all the right things doesn’t mean you’re saved, does it? That’s why James spent all of the rest of his letter up to this point giving his readers a series of tests. He gave us a series of nine tests that will let us know whether our faith is real or not. Because even if we don’t know anything else, we know that only real faith is what saves. In giving us those nine tests, James showed us the perfect standard that’s required to pass them. He showed us the perfect standard that’s required to pass the Bible test. Do you always receive the Word of God the way you should? Do you listen to it and read it and study it and learn it? Do you allow it to humble you and allow it to change your life? Do the actions of your life put the Word of God on display for all the world to see? All the time? If not, you’ve failed the Bible test. James went on to show us the perfect standard that’s required to pass the preference test. Is God always exalted in the way that you treat others? Do you always love other people as you love yourself? Do you always see others as people that Jesus loved enough to die for? Everybody? All the time? If not, you’ve failed the preference test. What about the next test? What about the works test? We have seen the perfect standard that’s required to pass the works test. Is your faith always evidenced by your works? Do your works always show concern for God’s creation? Do your works always show complete and total trust in God’s Word? Do your works always show hope in God’s promises, or do you ever worry? Do your works always show service to God’s people? Always? If not, you’ve failed the works test. And then James gets a hold of our tongue. He showed us the perfect standard that’s required to pass the tongue test. Does your tongue ever bring condemnation rather than glory? Do you ever try to manipulate or control people with your tongue? Do you ever gossip or sarcastically cut people down? Do you ever back down on God’s truth and use your tongue to compromise with the world? That’s convicting, isn’t it? If you’ve done any of those, you’ve failed the tongue test. As we look at our results from taking each of these tests, it makes us want to cry out—enough! It makes us want to beat our breast with the publican and cry out, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” But we’re not through yet. James tested us further with the wisdom test. He gave us the perfect standard that’s required to pass the wisdom test. Do you ever seek wisdom in the things of this world? In your good old-fashioned horse-sense? In your flesh? Do you see the results in the confusion and strife that surrounds you? If you do, you’ve failed the wisdom test. Next, we were faced with the perfect standard required to pass the pride test. Are you ever selfish? Do you ever worry? Are you ever greedy? Then you’ve failed the pride test. Then patience. The perfect standard for passing the patience test is centered on work and hope. Have you ever lost your patience? What about the integrity test? The perfect standard for passing the integrity test is that your yes always means yes and your no always means no. Is that always the case with you? Always? If not, then you’ve failed the integrity test. Finally, James gave us the affliction test. Have you always responded to affliction in the perfect way this test requires? Have you always responded perfectly as an individual and as part of this corporate body? If not, then you’ve failed the affliction test. Nine tests. How many of those can you say you got an A on? How many can you say you even passed? See, that’s the only choice on those. They are all pass/fail. You can’t get a B-. You either get a perfect score or a failing grade. It all goes back to what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:48, Jesus commanded, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” No B-’s accepted. But the Lord knows that. He knows that we have all failed. And He knows that we will fail. That’s why in verse 19 when James says “if” he uses a word in the original that means “if… and I know you will.” He says, “My brothers, if any of you fail these tests, and I know you have and I know you will….” You see, the Lord knows the results of the tests before He gives them to us. He knows that we are but flesh. He knows that we are fallen people living in a fallen world. That’s why He gives us grace. And look at how He gives us that grace. He gives us that grace by providing remediation.