“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.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial—for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life…
But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” (Excerpts from James 1:2-4, v12, and vs. 22-24)
Trials, testing and being steadfast and blessed: What is the connection between these? And what relationship does this have with being doers of the word?
In my mind James is the blunt Apostle. If he was a baseball pitcher there would be no wind up, no time between pitches—get the ball and throw—and a lot of chin music simulating trials/testing.
I have been thinking for some time that “testing and trials” has more to do with evaluating myself rather than God evaluating me. Here’s why:
- Simply: God is eternally omniscient, that is, He already knows if I succeed or fail. So God testing me to see what I would do doesn’t make logical sense.
- If that is the case why would I need trials/testing? I think that the trials/testing is for me…so that I can be a “doer of the word” and to not deceive myself.
Soooo, reflecting on this that is why we can “Count it all joy” because God is providing a practice field (testing/trial) so that I can look in the mirror, evaluate myself, confess and repent as appropriate and/or necessary, and rejoice (Count it all joy) in that God cares for my growth in Him—He wants me to be a fruitful disciple STEADFASTLY pursuing Him.
So (I ask myself) what is God’s objective here? I have been taught/told for many years to “be doers of the Word” like being a “hearer” is somehow wrong, shortsighted, or suboptimal. What does that get? I think that it gets enthusiastic but untrained folks trying to do things in the Name of Christ, perhaps when they have barely learned the foundations of the Faith.
Still, the above is a part of the objective but not the objective of this section of scripture. The objective is being STEADFAST in full effect with the end being perfect and complete in Him. And how does that happen? Not by reading being steadfast as a clinched jaw in the face of opposition or some such—but taking what has been experienced to the mirror and intently asking myself: “What just happened here, Lord? Did I honor You, did I do what the Word of God told me to do? Did my passion overcome obedience?”
Tough thinking through stuff like this—but it is necessary for every wannabee Disciple to do.
Father, You know that this rings in my spirit, causes a prick in my heart, for I don’t what to be (and folks around me) a Recruit Soldier but a Trained Soldier for the Kingdom. Help me work through being an apprentice to one day becomes a journeyman. I want to be patient through the work You are doing in me, and let steadfastness upon the Rock of my Soul, the solid Foundation of Your Word to be complete. AMEN