Sunday, May 16, 2010

NOT LACKING ANYTHING

A. Brother
© 2009 Narrowgate Publishing


          “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”                                                                          --James 1:2-4

          “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”                                                                                               --James 1:12

          This little word of encouragement could be titled “Mature and Complete” just as easily.
            Do I want to be mature and complete in Christ?  Then I will be willing to take my trials with joy, facing them boldly and confidently in our Lord Jesus.
            Perseverance is the character trait we often lack.  We are not complete and mature because we don’t persevere under trial.  We don’t face our trials in love and hope and joy, because we’ve been taught wrongly.  We’ve been taught, either by direct words, or by default attitudes around us, that trials come to those who are disobedient to God, and that severe trials especially are signs of sin, and are avoided by the godly.  After all, are we not judged righteous by the results of our actions?  Do we not reap what we sow? 
            These misuses of Scripture are rampant today among some Christians.  They judge in a worldly way, which is according to appearances, and not God’s way, which is to discern the attitudes and intentions of the heart.  Only God can judge these inner things, and that’s why God doesn’t require judgment on our part, only grace and mercy. 
            We are to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2), not judge each other in our trials.  The source and the manifestation of the trials are not our concern.  Our concern is toward our brother or sister, no matter what the trial they go through.  One of the commonly held misconceptions is that I should judge the validity of the needs that people have before I give to them when they ask for help.  That flies directly in the face of Jesus’ own Word:

            “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.   Do to others as you would have them do to you.” 
                                                                                                                   --Luke 6:30,31

            Love is the answer to every question.  Love is the guiding principle for us, whether we are the recipient of the trial, or the observer of a brother’s trial.  We are going to be held accountable for our own attitudes and intentions, and God, who sends His rain on the just and the unjust, will worry about our brother’s attitudes and intentions.  We just love, as God loves us, and it takes care of our part.
            When we are going through trials, we are to turn to our brothers in Christ for help.  The “rugged individualism” which has captured many people as a result of its lionization in modern American society is hogwash, and unscriptural.  God never created us to be independent, selfish, and living alone.  We were never intended to “find ourselves,” we were created and called by God to be found in Him, and in the Body of Christ together.  We are “called out to be together” (Ekklesia), the Greek word given us over a hundred times in the New Testament to describe the people of God.  Emphasis is on the word TOGETHER.  We were not meant to face our trials  alone, which was taught faithfully throughout the New Testament by Paul, James, John, and Peter.  They were with the Lord Jesus personally, who taught them these things before and after His resurrection, and instructed them to follow His Way.  It was to the be Way of Love, and especially centered around the love of the brothers, which meant they would stand by one another in their trials. 
            That meant they were to be together, living as citizens of a New Kingdom, established by Jesus, and based upon the principle of love, mercy and grace, not judgment, rules and regulations.
            Today, brother, you may face “trials of many kinds.”  Together, we must help each other to persevere, so that we can, together, receive the crown of life. 

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