Wednesday, August 03, 2016

A Thought for Wednesday 3 August 2016

“Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”  James 1:2-4 NKJV

No one wants to “suffer”; at least not in the way the modern vernacular understands suffering (being miserable).  James, however, uses a word which more fully captures the essence of biblical “suffering”: patience.  By being patient, by allowing that some things are going to happen whether we like it or not, we can more easily focus on that which should matter most to us: staying true to Christ and growing in faith and love (sanctification).  Much in the same way we teach our children about duty and responsibility by assigning them household chores, we teach them to focus on things that matter and things which must be attended to rather than to allow their unoccupied minds to roam free and unencumbered, being captured by every whim and wish.  By seeing to these chores in spite of all else that is going on around them, they (as we must also) learn “patient endurance” and the value of doing their responsible parts in the keeping of the home.  They need to know the home does not stand by magic nor can “someone else” always be depended on to take care of things.

Christians will do well to focus more intently on the things that have lasting value beyond ourselves, and stop chasing every little (and big) thing that seems to threaten disruptions in our daily living.  For the disciple, daily living is about much more than merely bringing home a paycheck, paying bills, mowing the yard, and showing up for church once in awhile.  While these things must be attended to, there is something else that matters much more; the keeping of The Lord’s House in caring for The Lord’s people and promoting The Lord’s Message.

I think we do not consider enough that the very challenging times we face are more to us than “signs indicating the End of Days”.  Even if they are, this cannot be our soul focus.  Jesus taught that this is none of our business anyway because we cannot know – and do not need to know – when that Time will be.  There are many other things we must be much more focused on, things that matter not only in our lives but those things which will continue to matter long after we have breathed our last.

The “pursuit of [personal] happiness” is a uniquely American ideal that does nothing to promote the goodness of the Everlasting Gospel, but the goodness of that Gospel requires devotion and dedication to a specific task; the task of enduring the “various trials” for the sake of the Gospel and the building up of the Body of Christ.  It must be remembered that James is addressing “the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (vs 1), not any particular individual.  So it matters to us, in James’ context, that what we do builds up the whole Body and the whole community; for it is “wholeness” in which “perfection” will be found beyond ourselves only.

The Lord is great, is He not?


No comments: