Friday, July 15, 2011

James 1:5-8 Faith and Endurance (part 2)

Yesterday we discussed how troubles in our lives give us an opportunity to choose joy. We know that the tests of our faith are purposeful: when our faith is tested our endurance grows and gives us the strength (grace) to handle situations.

There are typically two types of situations which hit our lives: self-imposed and uncontrollable. Examples of self imposed tests may include falling into temptation to fill our own sinful nature(s) or failure to comply with the Bible and its teachings. Examples of uncontrollable tests may include sickness, disease, or death. An example which may fall in between the two categories is poverty. Perhaps you are victim of the recession and have lost your job and been unable to find employment. Uncontrollable. Perhaps you are addicted to gambling and have lost your life’s savings. Self-imposed. There are so many more examples which may be included here. Basically, everything bad in our lives can be categorized into one of these categories.

What’s testing you? Is it a self imposed or uncontrollable test? It’s important to distinguish their difference and to take ownership in your own contributions to the trials in your life.

Typically when troubles or “tests of our faith” are encountered we seek solace from God. We oftentimes ask for His guidance and wisdom to know what to do or how to handle the tests. (I have my hand up waving it frantically). However, James tells us,

5If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do—ask Him, and He will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. 6But when you ask Him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8They can’t make up their minds. They waver back and forth in everything they do.


So, what does James want us to know? Easy, huh? (Don’t you just love his straightforwardness?) Well, first he says that it’s okay to ask God for wisdom when you ask with the expectation of Him answering you. James also says to ask without expectation of the Lord’s answer is unsettling and you should not expect to receive anything from Him. What’s this “asking without expectation?” What I call indecisive faith, James calls wavering faith.

Here is a really great article on faith. The line in the article which really hit the nail on its head for me was “The problem with a little faith is that it is of little benefit” (Hill). Wow! Isn’t this also what James is speaking of? If we ask with the anticipation of God answering us, He will. Does that mean He will give us the answer we hope for? Not necessarily. However, in His time, He will answer us and provide us wisdom. On the contrary, if we ask doubtfully, our request will be as unsettling as “a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”

What answer(s) are we expecting? Wisdom. It goes beyond scoring outrageously high on one’s SATs or earning a Ph.D. Wisdom in the biblical sense refers to “Wisdom is the affectionate application of truth to every situation and relationship of our life” (Thomas). Do we just wake up one day and say, “Well, I think I’ll be wise today.” No… True wisdom is something we all should strive for in our religious lives.

“Being wise is actually considering any trial pure joy, and developing perseverance and maturity from it. Wisdom is applying the knowledge found in the Bible to our daily lives. It's more than an intellectual or even a moral response, it is an emotional response to the Scriptures, a trembling at the Word and also a delight in it. The fear of the God of the Word is the beginning of wisdom. We can also say that delight in the God of the Word the beginning of wisdom. So wisdom is true Christianity lived out day by day.”

You can read here for more information on Becoming Wise

If you don’t get anything I am trying to say, at least get this point: If you need wisdom, ask Him. It is available. Did you hear that!?! Available! At our own request, especially during troubles and tests of life! (Even though God desires that we ask for wisdom at other times too!) The problem in the world lacking wisdom doesn’t come from God. It’s self imposed by failure to ask (and/or comply with His direction).

It doesn’t get much simpler than that! James would just tell us this is “good ol’ common sense!"

In what areas of your life do you desire wisdom? I"ll go first. I desire that God will give me the wisdom to have a purpose driven life. I ask for wisdom in my career as I strive to find meaning. I ask for wisdom in my finances so that I make smart decisions. I also ask that God give me the wisdom for His teachings through James. Most of all, I ask that like James suggests that I will seek God in times of trouble and ask Him for wisdom of how to react. I seek His guidance and direction in all that I do...

Who's next?

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I began blogging several years ago in search of new friends who, like me, were having a difficult time getting pregnant. Five years, 2 miscarriages, 4 failed IUI's, and a doctor who told us "It will never happen" later, we are the proud parents of Kade and Kohen. They are each an example of God's absolute perfection. We thank God where medical intervention stops, Divine intervention begins.