When you go to the store to pick out a watermelon you can "thump" the watermelon with your finger to determine if it is ripe or not.
Well, how do we know if our faith is ripe or not? We know by how we respond in the midst of a trial.
James tells us to count it all joy in various trials for the TESTING of our faith produces steadfastness. It's not like the testing we had in school which is to determine how much we don't know. This testing that occurs in a trial is about putting on display the reality of the faith that God has already worked in us. It's about having a faith that is stable, real, and evident. So, when we count it all joy in various trials, our faith will be put on display and will be evident to all.
It's about having a faith that is vigorous enough to see us through a trial with joy. Faith is not something you work up. Faith is something that has been given.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB) For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
So, James gives us some ways to "thump" on our life to see if our faith is ripe or not.
James 1:19-20 (NASB) But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
What James is telling us is that it sometimes looks like anger. If your day went perfectly and you got everything you wanted would you be angry? When do you feel anger? Anger is what comes out of us when we don't get what we feel we deserve.
When you get "thumped" and anger comes out then faith isn't working for you.
“Well I'm not angry I'm just peeved, stressed, frustrated! I'm just a little tweaked.” We use these terms because we don't want to admit the fruit doesn't smell ripe. It demonstrates that we are not living in joy in the midst of trials.
James tells us to put away all filthiness. What he is saying is, “this anger doesn't look good on you.” It looks like wickedness. This is what it looks like when we don't live into what we know.
So, what is James solution to putting filthiness away? He tells us to receive with humility the implanted word. What word should we receive? We are to count it all joy when our faith is tested by various trials. What word? Every good gift comes from the Father above. Are we holding onto that truth? Are we embracing that truth?
Why would we live in anger? Why would we live in malice? Why would we wear stuff in life that isn't fitting? Perhaps it is because we don't believe the word that has been implanted in our soul.
We are to receive this word so that we can be doers of the word. This isn't about behaving nicely. What is it that we are supposed to do with this word that has been implanted in us? What should we do in the midst of trials? We are to rejoice! And if we aren't experiencing joy in the midst of trials, James tells us to ask for wisdom, but I have to ask with confidence that God is working in me a joyous faith.
This is what we should pray. Lord, can I have wisdom so that the reality of my dependence on you will be seen in my life and that would look like and taste like joy.
What is our normal response in the midst of trials? GET ME OUT OF THIS!
What should we ask? We ask for wisdom so that the reality of my dependence on God will be evident and it will feel like and taste like joy.
There is a purpose for trials. The purpose is to put on display the faith that God has worked in us. So, we have a certainty that in the midst of trials that God is working. If we can lean on that then we will know that He is dependable and that He is everything He said he was.
So how do we know if our faith is ripe or not? We know our faith is ripe by how we respond in the midst of trials.
This blog comes from the content of Brian Onken's message last week from the Book of James!