This message was part of the ‘For Such a Time as This’ series, preached at Christ Church Manchester’s church in Gorton in late 2017. The full series included the following sermons:
This sermon was based on James 1:1-11
Testing of Your Faith
1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.
2Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
5If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
9Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
Count it All Joy
- Joy – one of those words that can trip us up! Does James mean – cheer up, Stop moaning? All those refugees – fled from persecution – does he say cheer up? NO!
- One of the great questions of faith – Why does God allow the righteous to suffer? James offers us no answer! However – We are to know suffering / pressure / difficulty – allows maturity.
- Joy is taking the situation, turning it to God and allowing God to use it. Not flippant – we know many who are suffering – physically/financially/relationally – church should be a place to suffer with friends, to allow God to move. This produces steadfastness & perseverance.
- Sometimes we ask “why is this happening?” – there isn’t always an obvious reason. The world is a broken place – bad things happen – there isn’t always an answer to the why? However, James teaches us there is always a way to take Joy and allow God to mature us. That maturing produces perseverance and wisdom.
Ask For Wisdom
- Often in life we don’t know what to do! How many times have you had a decision to make and had no ideas! What on earth do we do? James tells us – ask God for wisdom – God is generous – so ask in Faith.
- When pressure/trials come – we work with God to grow in maturity & Joy, we ask for wisdom. That’s different to the doubter (v6-8) – the doubter lets life happen to them – abdicates responsibility – It’s not about one off doubts – or about feeling unsure – this is a lifestyle of doubt! A lifestyle of doubt doesn’t commit, doesn’t allow God to grow us, doesn’t ask for wisdom.
- We grow when we are under pressure – if your faith is becoming dry/stagnating or perhaps you’re struggling with relating to God – the answer may not be to pray / read bible! The answer may be to get some pressure. Get some trials! Do things that test you. That’s when our most rapid growth happens. When we are tested we are desperate for Gods help, desperate for wisdom.
Get Some Perspective
- Having a healthy perspective on your circumstance is important. Perspective doesn’t come from comparison – perspective only comes from eternity.
- James says the poor boast in exaltation but the rich boast in humiliation – what does he mean? Our life circumstances are to be seen through our place in eternity – our position in Christ. We thrive when we see our lives from Gods perspective not ours. We may delight when life is good, we are successful, life is fun. However the Lord delights in Love, Justice, righteousness and steadfastness – those things are hard won.
- Comparison is unhelpful because there is so much outside of our control – life keeps moving forward. The unexpected happens and we are affected by what we cannot control. God’s perspective is unchanging and constant.