This life is filled with a vast variety of blessings, setbacks, successes, and failures. Yet, in the wake of this, God tells us to consider it joy when we encounter various trials for the testing of the faith produces endurance. It can be difficult (often extremely difficult) in life's many deserts to hold on to faith. Like those whose names are Joy, being named Faith hasn't made maintaining faith easy. It is an ongoing sanctification process in that area. However, the temporal turbulence of this life will be for eternal spiritual gain for those who are in Christ. We can rest assured that God's word does not return to Him void. This article will cover a devotional of James 1:2-4.
A Small Note Before We Begin A Discussion of the Concept of Spirituality
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"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing" (James 1:2-4, NLT).
Breaking Apart the Reading
The book of James was written by James, the half brother of Jesus, and a leader in the Jerusalem church. It was written roughly around A.D. 49, before the Jerusalem council in A.D. 50. This book pulls from Jesus' many sermons while He was incarnate on Earth. It is a book of history and wisdom. With this said, the book enlightens what the Latin saying of "acta non verba" means. This phrase means "actions and not words." Likewise, James' message in his book emphasis actions holding more weight than words, that words spoken of without supporting actions are empty.
"This book attacks the notion that becoming a Christian is simply a matter of assenting to a few spiritual truths without experiencing any real change in behavior or thinking." The commentary was above written by publishers. Tyndale Publishers and Wycliffe Bible Translators. The Holy Bible, New Living Translation.Copyright 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013. Carol Stream, Illinois. Tyndale Publishers. Page 735, under the title "context" in the heading. Print.
The above quote is a reminder that true conversion brings conviction and without conviction, there would be no legitimate way of living out the faith. When one is converted, they have a new relationship with sin. Without the ongoing walk in conviction and the sanctification process, we would merely be like the Pharisees who had an intellectual understanding of the scripture, but missed the true message of Jesus by 12 inches (the distance from the head to the heart) and had no inward conversion.
So many people profess to be in the faith yet live a lofty and flimsy life with no genuine change in behavior. God's presence brings conviction and if a person is not walking in the conviction it is safe to say that God's word does not abide in him/her and they are merely fooling themselves. James' call to action is dual-wielded, calling for self-examination to make sure we who profess to be in the faith are actually in the faith.
"Tumbling the Stones"
There's a devotional from a journal I read this morning entitled "Tumbling the Stones." It encompasses life's trials and how God uses the turbulence of life to work off spiritual edges. Below is the journal entry.
"If you've ever spent time beachcombing, you know that the stones that get trapped in between the big rocks often get tossed and whirled a great deal. So much so, that the edges get worked off, making them the smoothest of all. The colors and nuances and unique markings are accentuated. In other words, their beauty is brought out by the process of the constant stirring and abrasion--rock tumbling against rock. When you pick them up and roll them around in your psalm they fell like the shell of an egg. It's those stones that become part of your trove of little beach treasures. God uses the tumbling turbulence of our lives to work off our edges--those jagged, sinful, rebellious edges that keep us from being all that we were meant to be. Being tumbled can be painful--stone hitting stone can't be all that fun--but the outcome will be holiness and loveliness of spirit. We will be treasures, brighter than diamonds, and more precious than gold. Pray that God can use your tumbling trials to bring out the beauty of your soul." How God Grows a Woman of Prayer Devotional Journal. Higman, Anita, and Leslie, Marian. 2016, Uhrichsville, Ohio. Barbour Publishing INC. Page 9 "Tumbling the Stones" entry. Print.
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While the above entry was addressed to women, the life lesson applies to all. Only God can smooth out the spiritual edges and make us as fine as jewels.
Closing Thoughts on a Discussion of the Concept of Spirituality
We live in a world that is plagued by trials. Several trials of today (including but not limited to COVID-19, the rise in the persecution of Christians, apostasy, and antisemitism, riots, murder, adultery, etc) highlight our need for a savior and morals that point outside of ourselves. I encourage you reader to examine yourself. Are you in the faith?
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