No Pain no gain. Or so the saying goes. Athletes remind themselves of this to get their best possible performance.
Sometimes they have to go through grueling training. Without it, there is no improvement.
Reading James in the New testament he suggests it's the same for Christians. I believe perseverance is essential in our Christian walk especially when we are facing trials and temptations.
In my opinion there are many and varied situations in which we as Christians need to persevere. James tells us in chapter 1 verses 2 and 3 that we should consider it PURE JOY that trials and temptations come our way because it's like a test of our faith and these trials and temptations help us to persevere.
Easy to rattle off here in a blog but often so very hard to do BUT when we do succeed in giving rotten old satan the "heave ho" during these trials and temptations then the victory of course goes to God and then to us!! YAY!
In verse 12 of the same chapter - James tells us that we are blessed when we do persevere under all sorts of trials because we have won the test and end up with the crown of life God has promised to all His believers who love Him. - AWESOME EH!
So what are some these tests and trials and temptations we endure on a day to day basis?
Well, from my own experience some of the BIG ones are doubting, lust, envy, jealousy, pride etc etc - you name it - I have been there and done that! UNFORTUNATELY!
So we can see that this first chapter of James is all about our attitude, our dependence on God (ie. We really can't do this on our own), help of other Christians, believing that God is always trustworthy etc etc.
Then we hit Verses 19 to the end of chapter 1
LISTENING AND DOING
This is the BIG one for me because it says be slow to speak and quick to listen - I am so much the other way round but I AM learning - Praise be to God!
My siblings and I are so quick to put our 2 cents worth in when someone is telling us something that is obviously on their heart. Must be a genetic thing. We listen then before they are finished out comes all of our experiences along the same line.
We all do it to an extent. It's as common as flies around a horse. While someone else is talking, we're thinking about what we're going to say next, so be it inadvertently or deliberately we bring the conversation around to us - after all aren't we the most important? (NOT).
BE SLOW TO SPEAK is a great learning tool for me and one where I am still coming to terms. Not only does James tells us to be slow to speak and quick to listen, BUT not just listen - CONCENTRATE on what the person is saying. Keep your eyes on them, don't let them wander around the room.
A tip I am learning to conquer is, when a person asks you how you are, be honest and tell them - GOOD is not an appropriate answer! But then gently bring the conversation around to that person and off yourself as soon as possible. In lots of ways you will end up being the one blessed - it's really quite amazing.
Also be SLOW TO GET ANGRY - this can be so hard for a lot of us. Anger often dictates to us how we behave.
If we react when our feelings are hurt it can have devastating reactions to whoever is involved. Anger can be contagious so we have to keep a good reign on our tongues when dealing with people of all ages. Our words can cause a lifetime of hurt to so many people including us.
So you can see attitude and perseverance is what we need to pray for and words, words, words can give us a lifetime of heartaches - don't be fooled it's not all about us. We basically know others are worth more care and attention than them listening to us bang on, rather than us listening attentively to what is on their hearts.
God wants us to slow down and listen too. So what else can we get out of James?
Labels are found in more places that on suitcases and soup cans. Not sure about you but I tend to put them on people all the time.
People are funny or odd, friendly or cold, smart or dumb, greedy or needy etc etc. and all these so-called LABELS can have a vast and profound influence on the way we treat people.
James tells us distinctly what we are to do. DON'T DISCRIMINATE!!! It's hard isn't it?
Chapter 2 and verse 5 of James tells us that God has actually chosen the poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith. I reckon they are a message to us in a BIG way that we can't judge at all - God loves us all!!! Who are we to judge - we should NEVER dishonour anyone not in any way under any circumstances.
God tells us we should love our neighbours (and that doesn't mean the guys next door but everyone) as ourselves. James goes on to say that if we show favouritism in any way we sin!! How about that!!
We can be as righteous as we like BUT if we break the judging law then we also break God's heart and actually we will be judged by God in the same way that we have judged someone else,
Please don't feel I am preaching to you - this has been a HUGE lesson for me too.
I'm left with these questions as I close - maybe you have the same questions buzzing around in your head too?
Who are some people who you avoid or look down on?
In what special ways could you reach out to one such person?
What can you do specifically to show someone like this genuine kindness?
This blog has certainly been on my mind a lot lately - I pray and trust it can be just a little in yours this week.
God bless you as think along these lines:-
- Your own personal PERSEVERANCE AND ATTITUDE in your walk with God
- Where you are in the LISTENING - V- DOING stakes?
- How are you personally going in the area of JUDGING?