Sunday, October 12, 2014

Meditations on James 1:1-12

James 1:1-12 Read it yourself

See it as a joyful event when you have trials because these trials produce steadfastness.

Rejoice in testing because it produces perseverance, tenacity, steadfastness.

This presupposes that steadfastness is a good thing, a thing worth having, a desirable trait, something of value.

Why is perseverance a valuable trait?
This trait or property of steadfastness is generative, fertile, fruitful, virile, productive. When it exists and it is given room to grow, it expands and brings completeness.

When steadfastness has had its full effect, you will be complete, lacking nothing.
What does it mean to 'lack nothing'?
When you lack nothing, you have everything you need. You have no deficiencies, there is nothing missing, you are full and complete, whole, holistically complete, without defect, exactly what you are intended to be, fulfilled, content.
Do you lack anything? Do you have needs? Those needs can be met by experiencing trials, because trials produce steadfastness, steadfastness, when given room, brings abundance.

If any lacks wisdom, let him ask God…
Lacking is a symptom, it is not the problem. The problem is perspective. Consider it joy… Instead of joy, avoidance, cynicism, despair, self-pity are the attitudes associated with trials. The lack of wisdom is a lack of perspective, instead of joy, there is something else.

Ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach.
  • God is generous, abundant, overflowing, beyond what you ask for, more than you expect.
  • God gives to anyone who asks,
  • God gives without nit-picking or fault finding, or conditionally, or with an intent to manipulate or maneuver the asker into a position of slavery or subservience.
But let him ask in faith, without doubt.
Is faith a prerequisite to the asking? Will God only be generous to those with faith? Does doubt negate God’s generosity? Is God’s generosity conditional? No, No, and No, God gives generously to all without reproach.

Then what does doubt have to do with it? Why is asking in faith encouraged while asking with doubt discouraged? Because God’s wisdom is not natural, or better stated, it is not discerned or apprehended in our natural state. Our natural state is a state of fallen-ness, a state of inability to see God or his generosity, like a young child being fed healthy food, we are unable to see the goodness in our circumstances or events that occur, without faith it is far easier to succumb in despair and accommodate or appease evil. We are born in a state of rebellion that manifests itself in our ‘natural’ rejection of God and his wisdom, this leaves us exposed to the vagaries of evil and hostile entities that would devour us body and soul.

In our natural state we will always miss the obviousness of God’s generosity not because he isn’t generous, but because we don’t want to acknowledge him. Faith in this context is an acknowledgment that God exists, that he is generous, that he gives without reproach.

In contrast to faith, doubt is the negation of one or more of those propositions. God doesn’t exist, that he isn’t generous, and that he finds-fault.

The problem with doubt is not that God will not give generously when you doubt, but rather that doubt will mask your ability to see what God is so generously giving, and that it is good.

Metaphors for this are: lacking a gene that allows your body to process food, or trying to see without opening your eyes, or not believing that the compass in your hand is actually pointing north. Faith is the gene, faith is opening your eyes, faith is assuming the compass is accurate.

Without faith in God’s generosity, faithfulness, and kindness it is impossible to keep moving in the same direction. You are tossed about like a cork on the waves. Like a sailboat with “three sheets to the wind”, out of control, at the mercy of your circumstances. Doubt leaves you at the mercy of external forces, those forces determine your destiny. With doubt, there is nothing that you can do to change your destination.

Let the lowly boast in his exaltation...
If you lack, exult in your lacking, if you don’t lack, seek humility. Humility comes easier when you consider that your life is transient, passing quickly, completely outside of your control, and whatever riches or abundance you are currently experiencing is transient and not of your own making, nor will you be able to maintain it or keep it because you yourself will fade away despite your best efforts to the contrary.

Conclusion: You are blessed when you live with tenacity under trial, when you have stood the test you will receive eternal, abundant life which God has promised to those who love him.

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