Never Give Up

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4 (ESV)

We often cite the Bible’s instruction to “consider it pure joy” when we face trials, but I believe there’s something important being said immediately afterward that is easy to miss. We could read this passage and take from it that our trials mature us.

But we’d be wrong.

Our trials DO NOT produce maturity. They produce perseverance, and our perseverance results in maturity. I would submit even that our trials don’t produce perseverance as much as they provide us the opportunity to persevere. Perseverance is the key.

But it’s also optional. Too often in our trials we look for the shortcut out instead of steadily walking through it in the way God leads us. That’s when we repeat the trial, because He intended that as an opportunity for growth and we robbed ourselves. So, because He loves us, He gives us another shot at maturity.

When a young man’s temptations with a girl try him, persevering in righteousness will mature him to be a good husband. Giving in will take him too quickly to places he’s not yet mature enough to handle. Excessive drinking is a shortcut for many to deal with trials, and it’s fruit is obvious. We can choose to lean on a credit card to quickly get us out of financial trouble instead of stewarding our money the way God instructs. We can lose our patience in a frustrating situation and yell or even become violent, because humility and the preferring of others takes too long.

Such choices only delay and often multiply our trials without yielding ANY maturity. It’s pretty obvious that our trials don’t produce maturity, but they DO give us opportunity to persevere in righteousness. So…

Never give up! Never give in! The trial will soon pass… and then give way to the next one. To think we can coast through life skipping over our hardships is a self deception. Part of life is constant training. Why?

“…so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.”

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5 thoughts on “Never Give Up

  1. Dan,
    I was comparing the following two passages written by James and by Paul…

    Jame wrote: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 KJ2000)

    Paul wrote, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us.
    (Romans 5:3-5 KJ2000)

    Dan, would it be right to say that trials and tribulation work patience and patience works experience and experience works hope and hope works the love of God in our hearts because of the Holy Spirit that God has given all those who have put their faith in Christ alone?

    It seems that God puts a high premium on seeing us gain experience in overcoming our trials and temptations to get us to quit looking to ourselves and other things and start casting all our cares upon Jesus who is the Author and the Finisher of our faith. According to James it is our faith that is being tried. Peter also spoke of our faith being tried saying,

    “[We who believe] Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In which you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold trials: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1 Peter 1:5-7 KJ2000)

    I get the picture of my faith in Christ alone being put in a refiner’s crucible with the heat being turned up and that heat is trials and tribulations to see if we will call out on Christ to be our strength and sufficiency in all things, or we will just try and “gut it out” by our own strength. Paul said it best for me when he wrote,

    “And he [Jesus] said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.'”
    (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 KJ2000)

    Paul, like James, counted it all joy when he found himself weak so that he had to throw himself on Christ and then see Jesus come through for him in every trial. He saw that his own human strengths were his biggest enemy. He expounded on this in telling about how he despaired even of life saying,

    “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead;” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9 RSVA)

    In the American church we hedge all our bets and do all we can to keep from having to walk by faith. We have insurance policies for everything imaginable. We have our 401k’s and IRA’s to cover us in retirement. We join unions to give us power and job security. If we get a some kind of pain or infirmity we run for the medicine cabinet or doctor’s office (for more pills – there seems to be a pill for everything) without even giving Jesus a chance to heal us. We avoid trials at all cost. We even avoid being tempted by cloistering ourselves in our churches and homes away from the real world where we might be seen with “the wrong kind of people.” We are inoculated against walking by faith in Christ alone. Are we sure that this is the walk that Jesus displayed to His disciples when He said, “Follow me”? Our faith is not being tried! Is it any wonder that the American church is so feeble and powerless against the rise of evil that is closing in around us as a nation? We are a nation of weak Christians, BUT all that is missing is for us to totally put our trust in Jesus alone and walk wherever the Spirit leads us by faith in Him that we might know HIM as our sufficiency and strength in adversity.

    Brother, you by faith, stepped into a hornets nest when you dared to question the holy cow of America’s backslidden church leadership, “the tithe.” But you have weathered the storm and as a result the trial of your faith has worked a determination in you to find Christ as He IS and to obey HIM and not cower in the face of adversity. I salute you, Dan! Keep up the good fight by HIS strength and not your own. Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes! Yes! Yes! I think you’re touching on the same thing God has instilled in me over the last few years. I’ve prayed many times that God would cause me to suffer more; not because I enjoy suffering, but I can see the fruit is worth it! Lately I almost get anxious when things are running too smoothly… I feel somewhat removed from the place of reliance on him, which is the place I belong.

    There is a picture in my head which I don’t think I’ve ever been able to adequately express to anyone with words, but it’s something like this: We see and accept that nature has laws, but God is the source of those laws. What is “natural” are those things in harmony with God, while anything not acknowledging, relying on, and magnifying his glory is in fact “unnatural”. Every good and perfect gift is unidirectionally from him alone. We have no love, no joy, no peace except what comes FROM him and THROUGH us. We are in fact not even ABLE to love him unless he puts that love in us first, for he indeed is the singular source of any such love. In us there is NOTHING good!

    So I picture an unseen, heavenly “dimension” of things created which see and abide by this principle. All creation, both seen and unseen, is created for the glory of God and is to operate for that singular purpose; his glory. All God EVER does is for that one reason. Humanity is wholly UNNATURAL in it’s desire to glorify itself. We are cursed and depraved. There are ways that really, truly SEEM completely right to us, but the end thereof leads only to death. These ways are unnatural according to God’s universal decrees…

    … yet for reasons unknown he has mercy! By his grace he draws some of us back to life in him and sanctifies us back to what is in fact natural. The things we see as right and wrong, blessing and curses are in fact backward because WE are backward. When God brings us low and causes us to “suffer”, this is seen in the wrong light. In our depravity we mislabel this blessing as curse, when he is in fact breaking us out of a system of thought that keeps us opposed to his kingdom. Our thoughts keep us bound to a kingdom that will perish.

    Oh God, have mercy on us! Would you continue to break us free of those things which seem right and make us comfortable, complacent, and ultimately opposed to you! Break our wills that we be restored to our proper function in glorifying you throughout all creation!

    We must remember that those things which are seemingly a curse are a temporary and light affliction in view of eternity, and that God corrects (through trial) those he loves. This is done by means of the crucible: “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts.” (Prod 17:3) Precious metals are refined by being brought to a boiling point so that the impurities may be revealed and given up. Likewise, our hearts are refined by the LORD bringing our hearts to a boil so that the evil we harbor is brought forth to be removed.

    Don’t run away from pain. Recognize the hand of God at work and ask how you may serve him and yield to him in that season. If you are called according to his purpose then you can rest assured that he is working all things together for both his glory and your good! Rejoice in your trials and know he can be trusted! Seek, then, to serve him by your obedience and glorify him by your offering of praise in the darkness. Let the world wonder at how you rejoice in the middle of pain, and be sure and take none of that praise for yourself so that you may properly function in your ONLY created purpose:

    To glorify your creator.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Purpose in Pain | Dan Dailey's Blog

  4. Amen, my brother!!! All this work of the Father in us (trials and testing) is to bring us back into alignment with the rest of His creation from where Adam and Eve fell in the first place, except this time we are being made into a NEW Creation, conformed to the image of His Son!

    Liked by 1 person

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