We are almost there. Two more to go…
POINT #6 IN THE PROCESS OF BECOMING AN OVERCOMER IN THE MIDST OF TRIALS AND TEMPTATIONS, IT IS SO IMPORTANT TO NOT LOSE SIGHT OF GOD’S TRUE NATURE
Have you ever been in a conversation with a person and suddenly, for no apparent reason, you became the ‘object’ of his/her anger? It’s not that you did something per se, but it can happen. Or what about these ones…
- A parent that lashes out on the kids after a frustrating day on their jobs he/she doesn’t like
- A discouraging or disrespectful comment or suggestion coming from a person that usually would not say that…
- An outburst of anger or a sarcastic comment of your boss that diminished or even damaged your reputation.
- A not so friendly gesture in traffic when you cut someone off and caught you in your worst moment ever of impatience and lack of respect.
Humans are still humans. It’s not that we must just accept it that way. We don’t have to do that. Yet, when we are under pressure of life, it can easily happen that we lose sight of a loving Father that really wants the best for us. Suddenly that parental love is received with anger, frustration and perhaps even with resentment.
That’s why James reminds us all that everything we have in life is by God’s good grace. The fact that we live. It’s His gift! The fact that we can work, have children, live in community, have a roof above our heads and so much more…It’s His gift. God loves us. He’s a good God that really loves His people! God doesn’t change like we do. There’s no ‘variation or shadow of turning’ as James says it in verse 17 of chapter 1 still. That’s why Christ is the Rock on which we stand. He does not change His mind about our potential, created value, and destiny. In the darkest day of your life, He did not lose sight of who you really are. So, don’t allow your mind to play tricks with you or see God as not so good or not even interested in your life, just because you are going through a hard time.
Finally, we come to our seventh and final point of a faith that works during trials, tribulations, and temptations.
POINT #7 WHEN TRIALS AND TEMPTATIONS KNOCK ON YOUR DOOR, BE QUICK TO LISTEN, SLOW TO SPEAK AND SLOW TO ANGER
We live in a time where everyone loves to share their opinion. Everyone has become a journalist or philosopher with an opinion that easily is spread because of the digital revolution that enables anyone to speak up. Even though that is not necessarily a bad thing, we can easily see the bad side of that as well. Let’s say you have your say about the latest pro-life movie on abortion and you want to share that on Social Media…Of course, you are free to do that. But beware of what may happen…The internet has also become a cesspool of bigotry, defamation, slander, name-calling, racism, sexism and much more. An interesting discussion can, with one tweet or post easily turn into a digital war. The US elections of 2016 have taught us that, for instance. Now, when life is hard, what do a lot of people seem to do? They are fast to speak up, not so fast to listen and often very ticked off… It’s the very opposite of what James is telling us to do when trials come our way.
James calls us to be quick listeners and slow speakers. For some that might come a bit easier than others. Being a slow speaker does not mean to keep everything inside and just let it fester until it becomes something very ugly. It’s not just what you don’t say. It’s also the process that is going on the inside that counts. Speaking, listening and human emotions are very connected, especially when the heat is on. Don’t allow yourself to be used as someone that fights the wrong battle just to make your point. There are no winners in that space.
Let’s now draw this series to a close…
We don’t get to pick our battles. They will come. That’s a guarantee! But we can surely choose to fight the battles the right way. How? The following points I made in four blogs. I hope you can find some help in them when you face a hard time.
- Trials are not optional in life so we might as well face them, not avoid them…
- Our perspective (called faith) on hard times will largely determine the outcome.
- Trials will keep us aware of our need for God in sincere, unwavering prayer that patiently waits on God.
- It doesn’t help to compare life with other people’s journeys while we are in a tough season. That makes it only worse.
- When confronted with a trial or temptation, be aware of what’s happening around you, but especially of what’s happening inside of you.
- Never, ever lose sight of who God really is in the process. He loves you and is so good to you.
- When you are in the storm, the qualities that will help you the most to overcome that season is to be slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to anger.
Faith works. It really does. Faith is not just ‘make-belief’ or only mentally believing in a God while being apart from Him or seeing Him as a distant “supreme being”. Faith works, but it’s the active, trusting, unwavering and patient faith that will help you overcome, no matter what life may throw at you.