As you read my post this morning, I will be preparing for surgery in Sutherland Hospital – yet another angiogram (my fourth since August). I guess I should not have been surprised that God would have set aside these verses from James 1: 1-16 for me to be blogging on today. This is truly one of those rubber meets the road chapters from God’s word.
I am sure if we FDR readers were all to sit together in a circle round a room we could share about a multitude of trials we have faced in our Christian walk – ill health, hurtful relationships, family crisis, unemployment, and hostile work environments etc. etc. As the late Malcolm Fraser said “Life wasn’t meant to be easy” – neither James would say is the Christian life.
I must admit that it will be hard to consider this to be “pure joy” – far from it – most trails are quite painful and sometimes may have a long period of recovery. But in a spiritual sense, joy is not a synonym for happiness. Rather, the deep sorrows of life can reveal a spiritual joy based on Jesus’ promise that “great is reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12) when such things occur. It’s a more optimistic outlook, but along the same lines as Nietzche’s philosophy that “whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”. Joy is a spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22) and evidence that God is active in the life of a believer.
But as we share I am sure that all would be able to testify to the words of v.3 “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance”. I am not sure who originally penned the analogy that faith is like a muscle – it needs to be put under pressure in order to grow. I don’t need to watch my teenage son working out on the weights bench in the backyard to know that to be true. We grow in our faith when we found in a position where things are out of our control and we have to trust and give them over to the sovereign Lord.
I am sure as we go through these trails – we would all ask Why? James reply is ” so that you may be mature and complete” and if you have doubts ‘ask for wisdom to understand’ (v.5) and hold fast (v.6-8) for your perseverance will be rewarded (v.12).
When we do fail, it seems to be natural for us to blame someone else. We do not want to be responsible for our own failure. James refutes the notion that it must be God’s fault because he is tempting us. God cannot be the cause of the evil things that men do as temptation does not come from God. Evil things cannot tempt God as there is no moral weakness in him. There is nothing in him to which evil things can appeal. God is all good and can have no contact with evil things. He has no desire that any person should do wrong things.
God does test people but not in the sense that is in these verses. He tests to prove them and not to make them fail. God himself tempts no one to do what is wrong. It is not possible that temptation to sin could come from him. As verse 14 points out, the source of the temptation is in ourselves.
In the midst of turmoil or conflict, we will not be shaken for our heart remains steadfast,
trusting in You and Your overall plan for our life
Geevetha Mary Samuel