Sunday, August 12, 2012

James 1:2-3

James 1:2-3- “Consider it all joy, my brethren when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

Are you struggling?  Perhaps you are dealing with financial difficulties? Maybe you are having a health problem?  Has someone close to you gone astray?  We are all facing adversity in one area or another.  Scripture clearly teaches that the Christian who endures will surely have done so through adversity.  The basis for our rejoicing during times of suffering is not by deceiving ourselves into thinking that our adversity is not real nor are we to employ the worldly mechanic of overcoming adversity through positive thinking.  The joyful Christian recognizes not just the command to rejoice but the rationale behind the command which is that such testing produces growth in our faith.  God puts trials and testing in our life in order to mold and shape us into willing servants. In the same manner in which the athlete suffers through training that he be prepared for competition, so too must we suffer in order to be prepared for the work which God places before us. If our objective is to draw nearer to God, then our desire to become who God wants us to be will overwhelm the struggle of our temporal circumstances. Like the victorious athlete who recognizes that the glory of victory is worth the pain and suffering of training, the believer is to be oriented to future glory not temporal suffering.  Paul clarifies the believer’s destination in Romans 8:18- “for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us”.

Consider the incredible truth revealed to us by the writer of Hebrews concerning our Lord, Jesus Christ.  “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings (Hebrews 2:10).  The word translated “perfect” does not mean sinless perfection but maturity or completeness for Christ did not have to grow into sinless perfection, he was sinless from birth.  Jesus had to endure adversity in His life in order to be prepared for the work that God the Father had placed before Him.  The believer should be comforted during trials in knowing that just as the pioneer of our Christian walk had to endure suffering in order to be made complete, so too must we suffer that we be one with Him: “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren…” ( Heb. 2:11).  Imagine if you had the opportunity to stand side by side with Christ and suffer with Him!  If given the choice between temporal comfort or suffering with Christ, surely you would choose to suffer with Him given what you know about Him.  Then consider- that is exactly the opportunity that you are presented every time you face adversity as Paul explains: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together (Rom. 8:17).  The believer has the opportunity to share in both the suffering and the glory of Jesus Christ.

Orient your thinking to the eternal realities of your relationship with Jesus Christ.  Recognize that if Christ had to endure adversity in order to be made complete, how much more do we need adversity in our lives?  Consider that God is molding and shaping you to be Christ like and as a result you will share in the glory which is to come.  Weigh this against the temporal discomfort of your struggle and ask yourself whether or not it is worth it.  Considering this reality, how could we do anything but rejoice!  Rejoicing in our suffering will enable us to draw nearer to God.

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