Summary: When we have tough times in our lives, are we being tested, or is this a trial? What’s the difference?
January 13, 2008 – Testing our Faith
We’re going to start a new series on the book of James today. Great topics are covered in this book: Trials & Temptations, Faith & Deeds, Taming the Tongue, Wisdom, Submission, Knowing the Future, Patience, and Prayer. We start in chapter one, where James, the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ, writes TO CHRISTIANS, about how we as believers should live our lives for God. He does not write in this letter any convincing arguments for the gospel message. He is addressing those who already have put their faith and trust in Christ.
How many of like to be tested? We face all kinds of tests in life, don’t we? But the ones we remember the most seem to be the tests from when we were in school. We got tested on the things that the teacher tries to get us to learn. We’re tested to see what we have retained in our brain. The teacher or professor wants to find out how much knowledge has passed through the outer layers of our skull and found a good home in our head. Do we remember what we heard in class, what we read in our text books, what we saw on a video, what we experienced on a field trip? We are tested to see if our answers to the questions on a subject are correct or not. And then we’re graded based on our answers. A passing grade means we can move on and learn something new. A failing grade means we need to go back and do some more studying on the subject, and then come back and re-write the test until you pass, and hopefully with a grade higher than 51%. Our goal should be 100%. It would be great if we could get it all right, all the time.
Think about a doctor. If you were to need surgery, would you want to be told that the person who is going to be cutting you open and digging around in your body had a 51% passing grade on their exams? How about an airline pilot? Would you get onto a 747 if you knew the pilot had a D- on their flight tests? What about a pharmacist? Would you take heart medicine from someone who didn’t know exactly how medicines should be compounded? And would you trust your life-savings with an investor who puts all their eggs into one basket?
I want the doctor who got 100% on their final. I want the pilot who can fly in any weather scenario. I want a pharmacist who knows which medicines should not be taken together. And I want an investment advisor who will make better decisions than I because of their knowledge of the market.
I want the people who I trust in my life to have passed the tests. I’d like to know that they know everything when it comes to their area of expertise. These are people I can trust. These are people in whom I could trust my very life. Tonight we’re going to look at a different kind of test, the testing of our FAITH.
1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
Trials and Temptations
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
9The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.
12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (NIV)
It never ceases to amaze me how God’s Word is fresh and new every time I read it. I may have read this passage a dozen times or more, and yet something new always seems to jump out at me. I want to share some of that with you tonight.