Good News

Tell me if you have heard this one before, problems refine our faith. (James 1:2-4) When we sit down to read James, the first thing we realize is that James just jumps right in where we live. James 1:2~Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials (πειρασμός peirasmos) of various (ποικίλος poikilos) kinds, (ESV) Right out of the gate, without so much as a warmup, or a formal greeting like Paul, James just dives in saying (πειρασμός peirasmos). Rendered as trials, it is the trial of humanity’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy, it refers to trials or adversity for the purpose of testing. Have joy James says to us. Really? Doesn’t sound right. God says to each of us, you can count on having problems. We are either in a problem, coming out of a problem, or about to go into a problem. Because life, it’s basically a series of problems. Each one of us has taken a crash course, continuing education course, or a professional development course at Life University. The problem is I don’t even remember enrolling. Wait, there is a test today? I haven’t studied! It’s called life, and our problems are a test of our faith. (ποικίλος poikilos), which means they come in all sorts, shapes, and sizes. One nice thing about problems is life doesn’t get boring because problems come into our lives in such a wide variety. 

Now I know that those of you at home or new to the faith, those who are playing catch-up, why should we consider our temptations, problems all joy? James 1:3-4~ for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (ὑπομονή hypomonē). and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (ESV) So, God’s goal for each of His children is spiritual maturity. He desires each of us to be complete and lacking nothing. It’s been famously said each woman has a similar goal and must bravely face the life challenges of being a woman. Know that every woman has at least one challenge in life…She’s either married to it or gives birth to it. Ladies, in either case, you chose. Men, no matter our age, we might ought to be a little more helpful. 

James tells us problems develop patience (ὑπομονή hypomonē), which means they help us become stronger in our faith, while at the same time they also expose our weak and often tender areas. Chip Ingram said Christians are like teabags. You don’t know what’s in them until they get in hot water. Pete tells us problems refine us like gold. 1Peter 1:7~These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (NIV)

Our values determine our joy. If we value character more than comfort, then we will count it all joy when we have trials designed to make us spiritually mature. (James 1:2-4) Time and again Job shares with us the right attitude toward problems. Listen to Job 23:10~But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. (ESV) Did you catch that? Trials are really gold in the making, at least as far as our faith is concerned. 

Today, ask yourself, in what area of my faith life am I being tested? God is at work in you and He wants to grow you and make you mature, in fact, He wants you to look like Jesus. So, when you hear Him say, this is the area, these are the things, I want you to pray about those things specifically and then ask for His help implementing them. Become a child of God who responds to be helpful, rather than one who fights against. Let God work in your life to refine your faith. 

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