Summary: We are God's tools. To make us useful, God sharpens us by way of trials.
Ever try to chop a tree down with a dull axe? Abraham Lincoln was quoted to say: "If I had six hours to cut down a tree, I would spend the first fours sharpening the axe." We have heard that analogy before in terms of how we prepare ourselves for a task to be done. But when we come to Christ in faith, and we are saved from our sins, the work of the Lord in our lives is not yet done.
Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
We are His workmanship. God is preparing us to do His good works. He is molding us into His image.
Romans 8:29 (NKJV) For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
What does God do to conform us to the image of His son? How does God sharpen us, His tools ion His hands?
James 1:2–8 (NKJV) 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. 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.
For two years, September 26, 1991 to September 26, 1993, scientists sequestered themselves in an artificial environment called Biosphere 2 (located about a hour NE of Tucson AZ). Inside their self-sustaining community, the Biospherians created a number of mini-environments, including a desert, rain forest, even an ocean. Nearly every weather condition could be simulated except one, wind. Over time, the effects of their windless environment became apparent. A number of acacia trees bent over and even snapped. Without the stress of wind to strengthen the wood, the trunks grew weak and could not hold up their own weight. This is true with all who avoid trials of various kinds.
It’s easy to walk in the Spirit if you are in church all day, every day. Its easy to live the Christian life if you ae around like minded people constantly – 24/7. If we lived in a monastery, cut off from all the influence of the world, it would be easy to shine. But, that is not where we live, is it? If all was happiness and bliss, we would not be worth much when the storms begin to blow. It is not a question if storms will come, but when.
James 1:2 (NKJV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
So much is packed into this little verse. Let mr point out a couple of things. First, it does not say if you will fall into trails but when. And the world trials is plural. We all have trials. We all have difficulties. We all have disappointments. I heard about a pastor who placed this sign on his door: "If you have problems, come in and tell me all about them. If you don’t have any problems, come in and tell me how you avoid them."
How Christians deal with trouble is what sets us apart from the rest of the world, and world is watching. We should view trials as preparation for greater things.
1 Peter 4:12–13 (NKJV) Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
Joy in trials. You see joy is not the product of circumstances, but the most fundamental expression of our faith. It was in joy that Jesus endured the cross:
Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV) looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
James in this little verse is encouraging the reader to embrace the trials they are experiencing, not for what they are, but for what God can do through them.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.