Sunday, May 25, 2014

Suffering Brings Endurance; Endurance Brings Salvation

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you are involved in various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:2-3)

James, the Brother of our Master, Jesus, tells us in his letter that enduring various trials and troubles tests one's faith, but that this testing produces endurance and completeness.

Jesus, also, in the Parable of the Sower, says that the seed that falls on good ground are those "who, in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, persevere, and bring forth a crop." (Luke 8:15.)

Many today wish that their lives were temptation free, and believe that if they just have faith, God will make things perfect for them simply because they wish it to be so. They hope that they can avoid pain, suffering, illness, the death of loved ones, and also win from God the joy of many earthly riches.

But Joy, writes James, comes FROM the suffering. And Jesus says that suffering and trails are inevitable in this life.

He warns that persecution for pursuing righteousness WILL happen, and that we will be persecuted, insulted and lied about (Matt. 5:11.)  Again, in the Parable of the Sower, those without tough roots fall away after hearing Jesus' message. They superficially believe that all things will be delivered to them on a silver platter, JUST because they've made a confession about Jesus. But Jesus calls us to hear and obey, not just to let his words wash over us and evaporate in the wind.

The teachings of Jesus come from God, and Jesus teaches that if we prepare ourselves and our hearts to receive his teachings and put them into practice (Matt. 7:24) we will be made fit to endure all that life throws at us.

Our faith isn't a guarantee that we'll become rich, invulnerable to sorrow, or that we'll never be criticized or even persecuted. Such a doctrine goes against all that Jesus taught.

Instead, we will be perfected by our struggles and by our sorrows. We'll grow from the pain we endure. And our endurance will make us ever more stronger so that we may enjoy TRUE Joy - the joy gained not instantly by wishing it were so, but a joy that is mature and strong, able to endure anything!

We are saved by Jesus not from the trials and troubles of the earth, but from those troubles crushing us and destroying our spirits.

The Good News of the Gospel is that Jesus says (Mark 13:13) that everyone who endures to the end will be saved. And our endurance and salvation is built solely upon hearing and heeding his words and following his most perfect example, asking God's forgiveness when we fail to live up to it.

Let us go forth and endure!

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