Summary: Life's pleasant moments are made even more sweeter when we keep in mind that they lead to this great spiritual destiny...and life's most difficult moments are to be endured patiently...remembering that patience and persistence turn sorrow into stepping st
THE PURPOSE OF TESTS
JAMES 1:5 11
Read James 1:5 11
Last week we studied verses 2 4 and saw that ...............(v.2) Almost a remake of Bobby McFarren's song "Don't worry Be happy" right? consider it pure joy...be happy....
Today we come to a passage that is often quoted but usually out of context. But that is not all that surprising since many view the book of James as a bunch of wise sayings all stuck together in one small book with little or no common theme or purpose. But that, as I mentioned last week, is not the case at all. One thought builds upon the other.
James has linked v. 5 back to v. 4 by a word common to each...not lacking anything...if any of you lacks. This is the connecting idea...this is what brings the two verses together and continues the very same thought he began in verse 2.
Now remember that James is writing a letter...but I'd like to paraphrase the thought James puts forth here in verses 2 11...maybe like he would speak to them in a personal, less formal way than a letter.
Keep in mind he's already told them to consider it pure joy when things get tough because when you trust God and do things His way it will make you mature and you won't be lacking anything you need to reach that highest level of maturity.
But now he says to them..."All of you should look forward to that day when you will stand complete, lacking in nothing. But right now there is something I'm pretty sure that you know yourself to be lacking."
And he says, "It may be that you can't see life like I've pictured it. You're in the thick of such a tangle of circumstances that there is no way it can seem like anything but trouble. By no stretch of the imagination can this seem like anything but a total mess without any possible purpose or any good to be found in it. So the bottom line is simple...you need wisdom....the wisdom that sees all of life as serving the purposes of the Lord."
But then he allows them another possibility. He says to them, "but your situation may be different...there may be one other scenario here. You may accept the fact that your circumstances are designed by the Lord to exert those pressures and bring about those tests that...somewhere along the line...will bring about an increase in maturity.
But just seeing things from that perspective doesn't make it easy or clear about which way to turn. There is more than one path ahead. And as mentally prepared as you are to persevere...to keep on no matter what...you don't know which is the divinely appointed way forward. Bottom line...you need wisdom.
Now, what does the Bible mean by wisdom? What does James teach about God in these verses...and what does he teach about prayer? In some references wisdom has a very general meaning.
Acts 7 tells us that Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. And it simply means that Moses was an educated man. Jesus also impressed people as being a learned person. But it is clear from other passages that the word sophia or wisdom has a much more specialized meaning than this.
In both Old and New Testaments we have reference to the wisdom of Solomon...which wasn't education but the ability to practically apply what he knew to the everyday problems of life. And that's where knowledge becomes wisdom.
The wise person will be able to see life as James has pictured it in verse 2 4...which means that even in the midst of trials and testings they are able to make personal decisions and to shape their lives in such a way that they will enjoy the progress towards the maturity that he's promised. That kind of wisdom is a gift from God.
There is a real simplicity in this teaching of James...whoever lacks wisdom can ask for it, and God will give it. Just like that! Now that sounds simple...in fact so simple that it may seem totally unrealistic. But in fact it teaches us something very important about God...something we need to be reminded of constantly. It is in the very nature of God to give...God is a giving God!
And then James goes right on to teach us that God's bounty is without restriction...He gives to who??? to all...and not just gives a little but generously. God's giving knows no earthly limitations....He gives to all. And it also know no heavenly limitations.
Let's look at this word generously. This translation may be as close to the Greek as we can get, but the actual thought is much richer. This word is the adverb of the adjective Jesus Himself used of a sound eye. And it means "single"...not plagued by double vision or anything else that would diminish clarity of sight.