Study Notes available in English and Chinese translations.
A Year that lacks nothing
This is the first weekend of 2014. I imagine that most of you want to be building something better in the coming year than you did in the last one. The news media are filled with stories of how both the president and congress are hoping for a better 2014 than 2013. More personally, I've found that few people go to church saying that they want to build a rotten life for themselves in the coming year. In fact, most of us go to church hoping to learn how to live well – how to have a life that matters. But, how do we go about building it? I want to focus on one all-too-infrequently-talked-about part of that topic today.
This brings us to our first message in a series from the Book of James that we will be considering for much of the year. In his letter, James assumed that all Jesus-followers are active members of a local church. And, James told us how we are to grow together and glorify God together no matter what happens in the society or culture we find ourselves in. The author James was almost certainly the brother of Jesus. In the Book of Acts, we find James was the main leader of the church in Jerusalem. James was the single most influential man in the early church – even more than Paul and Peter were. I believe that Pastor James wrote this letter to his parishioners soon after a young church leader named Stephen was martyred in public in Acts 7. Beginning in Acts 8:1, the Christians in Jerusalem were persecuted with many church people scattering from Jerusalem trying to find safety from the attacks.
Almost all the believers were of Jewish heritage back then so they fled to cities that had Jewish communities where they hoped to find new places to live and to work. You can imagine how hard it was, can't you? They once had found favor with the people in Jerusalem but everyone had turned against them. By Acts 8, they were unexpectedly ostracized from their families and their former friendships simply because they had become followers of Jesus. When they were driven from Jerusalem, their church situation changed quickly and dramatically. They had once been a part of a large and growing church in Jerusalem where people cared for one another and supported one another. But, almost overnight, they had to run from their home city and find refuge. Almost certainly, the Christian gatherings in the new towns were small.
And, as James wrote his letter to them, what they were discovering was that they were not welcomed in their new settings either. They were suddenly poor and without resources or extended family. Those in power in these cities oppressed them. Many Christians became sick without connections to medical help. All they had was Jesus – and one another. In this letter from their lead pastor back in Jerusalem, we find them receiving very practical instructions about how to be a genuine community of faith. In this situation, James does not do much philosophizing. He speaks plainly and straightforwardly. This letter is probably the most practical for daily living that we have in the entire Bible. James wants them to know how they can grow in their walk with God and live distinctly different lives in their new cities. But, they will have to make a commitment to being a God-glorifying community – together. Together.
Today we start where James started, i.e., with the issue that has always been one of the most problematic for church people, trials. Life was hard for the believers. Really hard. So, James opens with one brief sentence and launches right into the theme. And he will end the letter with it too! How many letters do you ever get letters that begin and end with, "Let's talk about tribulation for awhile."
But what subject is more important and practical for us? Trials do come in this world, don't they? Is there a distinctive way a Christian should respond to them? Do we panic? Deny their existence? Get angry? Demand that God remove them? Beat ourselves and say, "Ah well, I deserve it. God's done with me." When trials come, how do we live? We'll begin to think about this by looking at James 1:2-4:
#1: What we should build: A life that is complete – lacking nothing.
... that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (1:4).
If you were to have a 2014 that is "complete and lacking nothing," what would it look like? I imagine you would come up with a lot of good things. Productive work. Getting married perhaps. Finishing school. Having a child. Gaining financial security? All these things can be good. But, God would say that they are insufficient to be the main foundation of our lives. In fact, if we try to build our lives on anything in this world, we will find that the temporary thing will eventually crumble no matter how good it is.
To help you envision this, I want you to imagine being an artist trying to build something beautiful and then finding out that things are not going right. Scottish artist, Andy Goldsworthy, is a man who builds unusual and beautiful things using a variety of mediums. In one of his artistic creations, he speaks of building for days on a rock sculpture. At one point, he knows there is a flaw in it – but he keeps on building anyway somehow hoping it will work out. When everything collapses, he knows he has to re-set his work from the beginning on. But he discovers that what eventually is built is better than he ever could have envisioned when he began the project. (I'll show this in the sermon.)
God wants you to have a year – in fact, an entire life – that is "complete and lacking nothing". But, the One who made us knows that this is only possible when he and he alone is the foundation for our lives. Our human tendency is to think we can find life by building on temporary things like possessions, personal accomplishments, or finding pleasure. Those things may be good – but they are only add-ons – not the foundation for everything.
Deep in our hearts and minds, we know that we are not meant to live for things that don't last. Still, most people keep trying to accumulate more and more, thereby hoping to find meaning in life. Or, we think that if only we could experience something like a marriage or children or success, then that will bring us the life that is "complete and lacking nothing." God says that we have to bring him into the center of our lives and let him do the building. That means that the things that we have put into his place, the idols that we think will bring us life, must sometimes be taken away so we can find our life in God. And that brings me to my second point, i.e., to the point James makes to the Christians from his church who had been forced to flee Jerusalem and felt they were losing everything that mattered.
#2: God's Path to a Complete Life: Often we need trials of many kinds.
...whenever you face trials of many kinds, you know that the testing... produces perseverance (1:2b-3).
This may not be the message that most people want as we begin a new year. It is, however, a message that the NT teaches in almost every book, i.e., that God often does his most beautiful work in our lives through times of trial. So, what is James talking about when he speaks of trials having the potential of making us complete and lacking nothing?
I think we need to understand a bit about what the Bible means by the word translated "trials" in James 1. The word comes up several times in James 1 and sometimes is translated "trial" and at other times is translated "temptation". For us, there is a big difference between a trial and a temptation, isn't there? We think of a trial as an external circumstance of life that tests our physical, moral, or emotional caliber. A trial, in and of itself, is neutral. There is nothing intrinsically evil about a trial, is there? It's just something that happens to you. On the other hand, the way we think about a temptation is that it's an internal matter. It's an inner incitement to do something we think might be unwise or wrong. And while we may say that temptation itself is not a sin, it still is a push toward sin.
The word James used, peirasmos, refers both to inner tests and external trouble. The reason is that for James, a trial is anything that might pull us away from faith in God. A trial could be an external kind of trouble like the poverty or unjust oppression the early church was experiencing. You understand that, don't you? If the one thing you want for 2014 to be complete is financial security, then that really becomes the main focus of your life. If something comes and takes that away, it's a trial. You get anxious, fear-filled, and angry... The trial strips you of something that you have made central to a life of joy.
And, temptations can have the very same affect. When we know there is a way God would have us to live and then a temptation comes up, we have a decision to make: Will we obey God or follow our own internal desire? The point is that either external trials or internal temptations can take me away from faith in God. Do you see that? James tells us in v.2 that there are various kinds of "peirasmoi". In fact, external trials can easily lead to lead to interior temptation. Take sickness. It's a trial. But, I've often seen how it can lead to many internal temptations ‑‑ to bitterness, faithlessness, angry outbursts, self‑pity...
Or take persecution, especially being scoffed at for being a Christian. That's an external trial but it can lead to being tempted to compromise or even to deny the faith. Or, take financial trouble. It's a trial but can lead to one being tempted to cheat, lie, or steal. Again and again, we see the same reality.
So various trials come. If we respond improperly, the trial can lead us to temptation and sin. What we have to learn to do is respond properly. The trial can lead us to trust God as never before but it can lead us away from God. I've seen it so often, i.e., the churchgoer who says, "Unless I have this thing, I refuse to be happy... Unless I get married I refuse... Unless I get that job, I refuse..." Those are the kinds of things that become your idols. The loss of them becomes the kind of trial James speaks of. They will leave you feeling incomplete and lacking everything.
The Bible's point is that trials are necessary for us to become what God made us to be. James insisted,"The testing of your faith develops perseverance..."
Most schools of human psychology are agreed that human beings need stresses in order to develop, to mature, to grow. We are all born with great potential but it's the demands of practical living from the cradle up that stretch us and develop those realities of human potentiality we call character. Trials are often hard but, without them, people do not grow. A pampered child who only eats and sleeps and is given whatever it wants will never be mature – only become an infantile and spoiled older person.
Well, the Bible knew that long before the emergence of psychology as a discipline. Let me illustrate it this way. Imagine a young man having to take a tough physics exam. "Consider it a joy when you have to take an exam from the toughest teacher in the school", says the Bible. "Rubbish," says the young man. "Exams are miserable things. I'd rather be playing golf." The teacher says, "So would I. But, if it were not for exams, you wouldn't have any incentive to learn. You'd watch TV, party, and play games all the time. You know how you are. The intelligence you have inherited, which God gave you, would remain undeveloped without tests. You'd never become what you were meant to be. At the end of the day, you would say, 'Why didn't I work harder.'"
James is saying, "The wise Christian knows this. When we become believers, God forgives us of our sins and plants within us the seed of a new Christlike personality ‑‑ but there has to be development and growth. And one part of this is that we develop perseverance when we trust God in situations of stress.
I know this is true. Christians who has gone through trials without rejecting God emerges surer of their faith. I've seen it among persecuted Christians from other nations. I've seen it when believers struggle through bereavement. We mourn when our loved ones die but it's only through experiences like that, you know, that some of really know whether we believe or not. Many nominal Christians find out in the midst of trials that they have no faith at all. They were just in it out of tradition. And many professing unbelievers have found out in trials that they really do believe. They can't escape that they believe that there is more than just living and dying. Everyone who has endured trials knows whether he believes or not. For those who do believe, their faith has a new steadfastness, a new grit – what James calls a new perseverance.
It's so counter-intuitive: Patiently suffer a trial so you won't lack anything! But, the only way that a trial can bring about a life that is complete and lacking nothing is for us to respond well. That point #3:
#3: How to Live on a Trial-filled Path: Taking time to "consider" and let God finish his work.
Consider it pure joy... Let perseverance finish its work... (1:2,4).
Pastor James gives two commands here that will lead to a life that is complete and lacking nothing. Neither will come naturally or easily to any of us. But each one will change our lives:
1. Consider the trial a Joy
We need to understand what the Bible means here. There are several things it is not saying:
The Bible is not saying that we should go out of our ways to make trials for ourselves. "When you meet or face trials" ‑‑ the actual word he uses is "when you fall into them." A trial is like a pothole in the road that you don't see until it's too late. You couldn't see it coming. You couldn't' avoid it. But it can do great damage. Only a fool says, "Ha, there's a big pothole. Let's see what it can do." But unintentionally, all of us sometimes hit the things. That's what James is talking about. He's not advocating a martyr mentality that goes out searching for persecution. He's telling us how to react when some things hit us that we couldn't have avoided.
Beyond that, the Bible is not telling us here that such trials are, in themselves, joyous and happy events. He's not telling us that a Christian response to trial is some mindless laughter in the midst of pain. Notice carefully what he says, "Consider it pure joy..." Even more literally, "Count it or reckon it as something that leads to joy." It's speaking of a way of thinking about it. It's an effort of mental calculation. We Christians pull back and look at trials in a way that others cannot. We have a perspective on life that assures us that even trials are not out of God's control ‑‑ that there is purpose ‑‑ that they can lead to joy.
The Bible is not saying we will discover joy in a trial on the surface of the event. What we often find on the surface of the event is sadness and pain. What the Bible is teaching is that we who know God have a way of stopping and considering -- thinking about what it happening and calculating the consequences God might bring about through the trial. That's what gives us a deep joy even in the midst of pain and uncertainty. That's what the Bible is talking about. We believe a good and sovereign God is in control.
Our response begins with our minds. We rationally evaluate what we believe and, in the midst of the trial, we can have a deep inner confidence and peace. We have a joy because we know and trust God.
2. Let God finish his work
Patient faith is an essential part of our response. "Perseverance must have its perfect work..."
but perseverance must finish its work so that you might become perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
Our normal response is, "Get me out of this now." "Take the pain away now." "Get me a job now." But just as athletes know that strength is developed only when we're able to hand on just a bit longer, so too we must let the trial have its work. James is saying here: When trials come, don't panic. Don't demand too quickly. God is doing something here. Let him finish what he is doing
There is a balance here. James tells us later, "Often, you have not because you ask not." We need to ask. But sometimes God says, "Yes, freedom from this trial is coming ‑‑ but not yet. Trust me. Talk to me and wait upon me. Only then will the trial help you to grow rather than destroy you."
How do we handle trials? First, count it as a part of joy because you know... You know God will use it in your life. You know God will use your response to help others see the difference He makes. Mostly, you know that God, your heavenly Father, is present in the mist of the trial and knows what He is doing. So let Him do it.
One of the things we miss in this text is that James takes it for granted that Christians will walk through these things together. All the verbs are plural here. We are not meant to handle trials alone. But I'll take that up next week (so you'll have to come back).
As my friend Jamie Rankin said, "These verses should change our eyes toward every kind of trial or temptation we will face in the coming year. I know they can give me hope and faith in the midst of each one I will face in the coming year." I pray the same will be true for you.
So, as always the choice is a self-directed life or a God-directed life. Maybe the best way to conclude is for me to ask you not how to be complete but to be incomplete in 2014? James would say this:
· Have a chip on your shoulder if you don't get what you want.
· Make life miserable for those who keep you from what you want.
· Be impatient if you don't get what you ask for or pray for right now.
· Give in to every thing you are tempted to do,
· Be clear to God about your expectations. Pray, "Maybe you didn't understand me God when I said..."
Or, you can obey God's Word when it says: Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
To His glory,
Dr. Greg Waybright
這是2014年的第一個週末。我想你們中的多數人都想在新的一年裡把事情做得比過去更好。新聞媒體充斥很多總統和國會冀望2014年好於2013的報導。從個人角度看，我發現來教會的人中，很少有人說他們想在新的一年裡過得更糟。事實上，我們中的多數人來教會是想要學到如何生活得更好——如何擁有一個有意義的生活。但是，如果過得更好？今天我想關注一下在那個話題中不經常談及的一個部分。 今天我們來到《雅各書》系列信息的第一個信息，我們今年大多數時間都會思考這卷書。在這封書信裡，雅各假定所有耶穌的追隨者都是本地教會的活躍會員。雅各告訴我們該如何成長、如何一起榮耀神，不管我們所在的社會和文化中發生了什麼。作者雅各被認為是耶穌的兄弟。在《使徒行傳》，我們知道雅各是耶路撒冷教會的主要領袖。雅各在初代教會是最有影響力的人——甚至比保羅和彼得還有影響力。我相信牧師雅各是在一個年輕的、名叫司提反的教會領袖當眾殉道（見《使徒行傳》7章）不久，寫這封信給自己教區的信徒。在《使徒行傳》8：1，耶路撒冷的基督徒被迫害，他們從耶路撒冷散開，躲避攻擊，尋找安全之地。 幾乎所有的信徒都是猶太人，當時他們逃往有猶太社區的城市，在那裡他們希望找到新的地方來生活和工作。你應該能想像到，那是相當艱苦的。他們曾在耶路撒冷受到擁戴，但如今所有人都反對他們。在《使徒行傳》8章，他們出人意料地被自己的家族和先前的朋友驅逐，只是因為他們追隨耶穌。當他們被趕出耶路撒冷，他們教會的形勢急劇變化。本來耶路撒冷的教會成長很快，大家在一起互相關心，互相支援。但是，一夜之間，他們不得不逃離自己的家鄉，尋找避難所。可以肯定，基督徒聚集在幾個小鎮子裡。 當雅各寫這封信時，基督徒發現他們在新環境裡並不受歡迎。他們一夜變貧，流離失所。那些城市的當局壓迫他們。很多基督徒生病，卻得不到醫療救助。他們只能依靠耶穌，並且彼此幫助。這封信來自他們的主任牧師，當時他返回耶路撒冷，我們發現信徒通過這封信得到了實際的指導，告訴他們如何成為一個真正的信心團體。在這封信中，雅各沒有大談理論。他的話直截了當。在整本聖經中，這封信可能是對於日常生活最有實際意義的。雅各想讓信徒知道，他們如何在與神同行中得到成長，如何在新城市裡真正活出不同的生活。但是，他們需要一起努力建設榮耀神的社區——同心合力。 今天，我們來看《雅各書》的開頭，這裡所談的問題是教會會眾最棘手的問題之一：試煉。這個問題對信徒來說真的很難。因此，雅各用一個簡短的句子開頭之後，就直接切入主題，而信的結尾也是如此。你看過幾封信，開頭和結尾都是“讓我們來談談苦難”？ 但是，什麼主題對我們更重要、更有實際意義？試煉來到這個世界，是嗎？基督徒面對試煉的反應是否有與眾不同之處？我們驚慌嗎？否認試煉的存在嗎？氣憤嗎？讓神拿開嗎？或者怪罪自己說：“好吧，這是我應得的。神在責罰我。”當試煉來臨，我們該如何面對？我們通過學習《雅各書》1:2-4來思考這個問題。
#1: 我們該建造什麼: 一個完備的、無缺的人生。
…使你們成全完備，毫無缺欠（1:4）。 如果你打算要2014年“完備無缺，”那該是一種什麼情形？我想你會提出很多好事情。工作卓有成效、結婚、完成學業、生孩子。得到經濟擔保？所有這些事情都是好的。但是，神會說，對於我們的生命而言，這是不夠的。事實上，假如我們只是把生命建立在這個世界之中，我們會發現這些短暫的東西無論怎麼好，最終都不能常保。 我來幫助你想像一下，我想讓你想像你是一個藝術家，正在建造某種美麗的東西，然後發現事情沒做好。蘇格蘭藝術家，Andy Goldsworthy，使用各種媒介來建造奇異的、美好的東西。在他的一個創作中，他談到他好些天在岩石上雕刻。有一次，他發現一個小的缺陷——但他繼續雕刻，希望能完成它。當一切都崩塌了，他知道他不得不從頭開始。但是，他發現最終完成的作品遠超過他起初的設想。 神想讓你擁有完備無缺的一年，這其實是完備的生活。但是，神要讓我們知道，只有祂成為我們生活的基礎時，這種生活才有可能實現。我們人類的趨向是認為我們通過財產、個人成就、享樂這些短暫的事物能找到生活。那些東西並不壞，但他們是附屬物，不是根本的東西。 在心靈和思想深處，我們知道我們並不想為那些不能長久的事物而活。大多數人依舊是在不斷地積累，越積越多，希望從那裡找到生活的意義。或者，我們認為只有經歷了結婚生子、成功，我們的生活才算是“完備無缺。”神說我們應該讓祂成為生活的中心，讓祂來建造。那意味著，我們必須時常拿掉我們生活中佔據神的位置的東西，拿掉那些我們認為可以給我們帶來生活的偶像，那樣，我們才能在神裡面找到生活。這讓我們來到第2點，就是雅各寫給那些被迫逃離耶路撒冷教會、感到他們已經一無所有的信徒。
#2: 通往完備生活的神的道路: 我們經常需要各種試煉。
…你們落在百般的試煉中，你知道經過試驗，就生忍耐 (1:2b-3)。 這可能不是多數人在新年一開始希望聽到的信息。但這卻是新約每卷書都教導的信息。神常常通過試煉在我們生命中成就美好的工作。那麼，當雅各談到能夠讓我們完備無缺的試煉時，他究竟是在講什麼？ 我認為我們需要明白一點相關知識，就是在《雅各書》1章所翻譯的“試煉”這個詞在聖經中是什麼意思。這個詞在《雅各書》1章中出現了幾次，有時被翻譯成“試煉（trial）”，有時被翻譯成“試探（temptation）”。對我們來說，試煉和試探有很大的不同，是不是？我們認為試煉來自生命的外部環境，試驗我們的身體、道德，或者是情緒控制。試煉本身是中立的。從本質上講，試煉與惡無關，是嗎？它僅僅是發生在你身上的某些事。而試探則是一個內部的事物。它是內部鼓動去做某些不明智的或者錯誤的事。我們可以說試探本身不是罪，它推動人犯罪。 雅各所用的希臘文是peirasmos，既指內部的試驗，也指外部的困難。對於雅各來說，試煉是指任何可能讓我們遠離神的東西。試煉可以是外部的困難，比如像初代教會經歷的貧困、不公正的壓力。你明白這個，是吧？如果你希望在2014年要完成的一件事是經濟擔保，那麼它就是你生活的焦點。如果某件事發生，把它帶走了，這是試煉。你著急，充滿恐懼，並且生氣…這試煉奪去了你的某種東西，而你一直以它為生活的中心。 試探會有相同的影響。當我們知道神給我們指引了一條道路時，試探來了，我們要做一個決定：是順服神，還是隨順我們內部的欲望？關鍵在於，無論是外部的試煉，還是內部的試探，都能拿去我們在神裡面的信心。你明白這一點嗎？雅各在第2節告訴我們有各種各樣的“peirasmoi”。事實上，外部的試煉如果產生內部的試探。比如生病，是一個試煉。但是，我常常看到它能引發內部的試探——苦毒、不信、發飆、自憐... 再如逼迫，特別是對基督徒的嘲笑。那是一個外部的試煉，但它能導致妥協或者不信。再如財政上的困難，它是一個試煉，但能導致欺騙、說謊或者偷盜。我們不斷看到類似的現實。 所以不同的試煉臨到時，如果回應不當，試煉會帶給我們試探和犯罪。我們要學習正確的應對。試煉可以帶來前所未有的對神的信靠也可以導致我們遠離神。我看到太多去教會的人說："除非我得著這件東西，我沒法幸福、、、除非我結婚，我就不、、、除非我有工作，我就不、、、"這些東西就成了你的偶像。失去這些東西就是雅各在這裡所說的試煉。這些東西使你感到不完全，欠缺了什麼。
雅各堅持說，"你們的信心經過試驗，就生忍耐、、、" 大多人類心理學科都同意，人類需要有一定的壓力來發展，成熟，壯大。我們生來都具有巨大的潛力，但是人生活的本能從嗷嗷待哺的時候就开始伸展，在生活现实中发展人的潜力，形成人的个性。試煉往往很難，但沒有試煉，人們不成長。嬌生慣養的孩子只知道吃、睡，並給予為所欲為永遠不會成熟 - 只會成為一個成不大的嬰孩，成為被寵慣壞的成年人。 那麼，聖經在心理學作為一門學科出現之前就已經知道這一條紀律。讓我這麼舉例說明。想像一下，一個年輕人要參加一场嚴格的物理考試。 “你們參加學校最嚴格的老師給你們的考試，都要以為大喜樂。" 聖經這麼說。 “這是什麼話呀 ”年輕人說。 “考試是很慘的事情，我更願去打高爾夫球。 ”老師說， “我也想呀。但是，如果不考試，你就不會有任何動力去學習。你總是看電視，聚會，玩遊戲。你知道自己。如果不參加考試，那麼神賜給你的，繼承下來的智性，就得不到開發。你永遠也不會成為你本來可以成為的樣式。一天結束的時侯，你會說，’為什麼我沒有努力工作。’" 雅各說， “聰明的基督徒都知道這一點。當我們成為信徒，上帝赦免我們的罪，在我們心裡種下一個新造的種子，孕育著基督形象的品格，但必須得以成長，而其中的一部分，是信靠神在我們承受壓力的情形下來培養我們的忍耐。 我知道這是真实的。通過了試煉仍然持定耶穌的人，他們的信心更加的堅定和確鑿。我在來自其他國家的受迫害的基督徒身上看到。 我看到信徒透過喪親之痛的掙扎。我們哀悼親人的死亡，這樣的經歷，你才知道，有些人才真正知道是不是確實的相信神。許多名義上的基督徒在各種試煉之中發現他們沒有信心。他們只是因為傳統進入教會。而許多自稱不信的卻在試煉中，發現他們真的相信。他們無法逃避，他們真的相信，在活著和死亡之上還有更高的存在和意義。每一個經歷了試煉的人都知道他真的還是假的相信。對於那些相信的人，他們的信仰萌發嶄新的堅定－一種全然一新的把握－這就是雅各稱之為新的忍耐。 這是如此反直覺：忍耐受試驗，好叫你毫無缺欠！ 但是，唯一在試煉中可以叫生命成全完備，叫我們毫無缺欠的，乃是我們合宜的回應。 這就是＃3
＃ 3 ：如何活在充滿試煉的道路上：花時間來“看”，並讓上帝來完成祂的工作。
都要以為大喜樂......忍耐也當成功... （ 1:2,4 ） 。 雅各牧師給這裡的兩個命令，會使一個生命成全完備，毫無缺欠。兩者對我們來說都不會是自然，輕而易舉的事。但兩者都會改變我們的生活： 1 。在試煉中以為大喜樂 我們需要了解聖經在這裡的意思。有幾件事情不是聖經說的： 聖經不是說我們應該出去自找試煉。 “當你遇見或面對試煉時"，實際的詞意思是 "當你落入試煉時"。試煉就像是在路上的坑洞，你沒有看到，看到為時已晚。你不能看到它的到來。你不能'避免。但它可以產生很大的損害。只有傻瓜會說，“哈，有一個大坑洞，讓我們來看看它能做什麼。 ”但無意中，我們所有的人有時都會碰到事情。這就是雅各論到的。他不主張一個烈士的心態，出去尋找迫害。他告訴我們，當我們被擊中的時候，又無法回避時應該如何回應。 除此之外，聖經這裡沒有告訴我們，試煉的本身是喜樂和幸福的事件。他沒有告訴我們，一個基督徒用無知的笑聲來回應身陷痛苦。仔細注意他說的話， “以為大喜樂...... ”更從字面上看， “數算，掂量這事，帶來喜悅。 ”它講的思考它的方式。這是努力用心的衡量。我們作為基督徒，用別人看不到的眼光，從事件之外來看。我們對生活的透視令我們深信，甚至試煉也不出上帝的掌管，不是无常，无终极目的。因此才能帶來喜樂。 聖經不是說我們可以在事件的表面發現試煉的喜樂。我們常常發現事件表面上是很悲傷和痛苦的。聖經教導的是，我們認識上帝的人有一種駐足，衡量的方式 - 在思考發生的事情，衡量這件事後面神要在試煉中帶來的結果。這是在身陷痛苦和無定中帶給我們的深深的喜樂。這就是聖經所說的。我們相信一個良善和主權的神在掌管。 我們的回應從思想開始。我們理性地評估我們相信什麼，在試煉當中，可以有一個深刻的堅定與平安。我們有喜樂，因為我們知道並相信上帝。
2 。讓上帝完成祂的工作 忍耐的信心，是我們應對的一個重要組成部分。 “忍耐也當成功...... ” 但忍耐也當成功，使你們可以成全完備，毫無缺欠 " 我們的正常反應是， “快救我脫離此地。""現在就把我的疼痛取走。""現在給我一份工作吧 。"但正如運動員們都知道的，力量得以煉出來就在於能堅持那麼長一點點，因此我們也必需讓試煉完成它的工作。雅各這裡說：當試煉來臨，不要驚慌。不要求太快。神正在這裡做成事情。讓祂完成祂做的事。 這裡要有一個平衡。雅各後來告訴我們說，“常常你得不到，是因為你不求。 ”我們要禱告求神。但有時上帝說， “是的，從這個試煉帶來的自由就要來了，但還沒有。相信我，與我交談，等待我。只有這樣，試煉會幫助你成長，而不是毀了你。 ” 我們如何對付試煉？首先，把它當作喜樂的一部分，因為你知道...你知道上帝在你的生活中使用它。你知道上帝會使用你的回應來幫助別人看見祂成就與眾不同的事。更重要的是，你知道，上帝，你們的天父，在試煉中與你們同在，祂知道自己在做什麼。所以讓上帝完成祂的工作。 另外在經文中少了一點的，乃是雅各覺得理所當然的，基督徒要在試煉中一同行走。所有的動詞在這裡都是是複數。我們本来不应该獨自处理試煉。但我會下週再提这点（所以你下周要再来听我说） 。 正如我的朋友Jamie Rankin 說的， “這些經文應該改變我們的眼光，投向今年我們要面對的每一試煉和誘惑。 我知道在新的一年我們面對的每一樣都能帶給我盼望和信心。 "我祈禱這對你也是一樣的真實。 所以，一如既往，還是一個選擇，到底是一個自我導向的生命或是為神所引導的生活。也許最好的結束語是讓我問你，你是要過一個完全的，還是一個不完全的2014年？雅各會這樣說： •如果你从人得不到你想要的就与人势不两立 •對於那些阻止你得到你想要的，讓他們苦不堪言。 •如果沒有得到你要的，或你祷告要的东西就不耐烦。 •屈服於每一個試探。 •對神有很清楚的期待。禱告說，“也許你不理解我， 上帝，我禱告求的是..... 還是說，你可以順服神的話語，當祂對你說：你們落在百般的試煉中，都要以為大喜樂。因為知道你們的信心經過試驗，就生忍耐。當忍耐也當成功，使你們成全完備，毫無缺欠。
Greg Waybright • Copyright 2012, Lake Avenue Church
393 N. Lake Ave,Pasadena, CA 91101
Greg Waybright • Copyright 2013, Lake Avenue Church