Our Community Group recently finished studying the book of James.... what a wonderful book to dig in to!!! Seems like I spent most of that study thinking wow... just... wow!!!! I mean, come on... the first chapter starts out powerful! No "sliding in to a topic", BAM... right to the point!
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything. ... NIV
That is powerful.... but I LOVE looking up different versions, they sometimes make things a little more clear. The Message translated these verses this way :
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.
You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its
true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work
so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
This is one of those instances where I feel that the message really opens up the Word, in particular where it says your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. That really makes me sit back on my heels to ponder what colors (if any!) I show when I'm under pressure?
How true it is that when our lives are going great, and we have "balance", our faith-life looks pretty good. We go along saying the right things, doing our best to do the right things. We go to church, we smile, we sing songs of praise, and then we leave the building with God tucked right back in that little box, all safe and snug, to be taken out again the following week. From the outside, we look pretty good to those around us. We 'have it all together', so to speak. It is pretty easy during this time to have our colors shine like a sunset... calm and serene, the picture of contentment.
What happens when we come under fire? When the pressure is on? When our life starts to resemble a roller-coaster ride instead of a leisurely ride on a carousel? What do we look like when our faith-life is forced into the open then? During times such as these do people look at us only to find a total lack of color? Do they find that our contentment is gone? That our smiles falter? That our songs of praise have lost their fervor?
What is MY true color? Have I become mature in my walk with Christ? Am I deficient? Where will I stand when the "heat is on"?? These are really hard questions... and I think that James is right on target when he says that we must "consider it pure joy... a sheer gift.... when we suffer trials... when we are tested... when we are challenged". I think it is then when we learn how deeply our faith is Christ is rooted. It is then that we either choose to draw closer to the one who sustains us and let HIS light shine for the world to see, or we choose to keep Him in that box we've created for him and only take him out when it is convenient.
The gift we receive?? Christ IN us... where he holds us up... where he gives us peace and comfort... where His light shines through us so that others can be drawn TO Him.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
Have a Blessed Day!