James 1:2-4 ESV
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
This verse can stand alone. No commentary or life application sermon is needed. No pulling it to pieces or discussion questions are necessary.
Count all these things joy in your trials.
Testing of your faith produces diligence.
When you reach full diligence, you are complete in your faith.
Joy… in trials, in steadfastness, in faith, in life… you can and will have joy. The Lord procured a way on the cross for you to be able to have it throughout all days and in all circumstances. The price was paid for you, and now you must pick up your own cross and follow him.
Following the Lord has high cost at times. In parts of the world it costs your family, your job, and the safety of your being. Hiding ensues. Some places you can freely believe, but to keep the peace, you must be quiet about it. Worship in your church on Sunday and pray behind closed doors. Street side outreach is scoffed at and ornaments of faith are often tucked away. You don’t live in fear, but you don’t live out loud.
Then there is the rest of us. Liberty, freedom, and openness can follow us in our faith walk. We can freely stand on a corner and proclaim the good news. Some may argue and try to bring us down, but our rights dictate our privilege to be there. We can invite people to worship with us, and sing Christmas carols on a cold night throughout our neighborhoods. Despite bad attitudes, we can read our Bibles at work and listen to worship music in our cars. Crosses are hung, Christmas is observed, Easter outreaches happen, and Vacation Bible School conquers the summer blues. We are free and can live openly in our faith.
So what happens when you are in a free society and love the Lord so much, yet encounter those rapidly growing numbers in the church who so question that faith you hold so tightly to? You follow the words of the Bible so deeply and stray far away as possible from man made labels. You don’t adhere to twisted thoughts on God’s Words, assumptions made by self-proclaimed experts, or agree with hopeless dogmas.
You love Jesus. His Word is truth. You are sanctified by that truth. John 17:17. Yet no matter how much you follow, believe, love, and do, it’s not right in the eyes of many and you feel like you are swimming upstream among people you believe that are brothers and sisters.
Are these the things the Lord spoke of? Maybe we weren’t suppose to look for the persecution from the unbelievers, but the questioning eyes of our very own. The people we have trusted call to us into query of our very salvation because we don’t ascribe to a few manufactured thoughts on what a real Christian looks like.
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
And when we soften our hearts and open our eyes to see this truth, we can finally see that the Lord is near.
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
And when we see that the Lord is near and grab on to the hope of this truth, we are free.
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
When we are free, we must not worry about the cost of freedom, it has already been paid. We don’t need to explain away this freedom to those who claim to already walk in it. Instead of fighting through the crowd of other believers, we should be walking hand in hand along the path of righteousness, glorifying the Father without constraint of the suspicious eye.
So we move on… The Lord knows our hearts. The truth has set us free from the bondage of false thoughts inside of His own house. God is sovereign and will guide according to His will knowing the refining process that He has us going through. The Lord helps our hearts and minds to grow in the saving knowledge of His truth.God is sovereign and will guide according to His will knowing the refining process that He has us going through. Click To Tweet