The Testing of Your Faith
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
(Jas 1:2-8 NASB)
When it’s “OBVIOUS,” you are Guilty
What if someone you know, someone who is, in fact, a very real and devout Christian, has done something that has done you lots of harm. And what if that person is telling everyone he knows a great many tales to justify his behavior. These tales are very plausible because the people who hear them have known you for a long time. They are plausible because before you encountered the Grace of God, at the Cross, what they are hearing is most likely true. At best, they assume you never actually were met by His grace, and at the worst, they figure your contact fell on shallow soil and died. So…of course, what they are hearing must be the truth. Let’s not bother to find out and seek wisdom, or ask any questions.
But you know the truth is, you are, in fact, redeemed. You are, in fact, the child of God. For the first time in your life, you are actually innocent of the very things that would have been true just a short while ago.
You recognize you are not complete in Christlikeness. You know you are new and growing. As the flesh dies, you become more like Christ. But your flesh, having been so very corrupt, might take a longer time to be like Jesus our Lord.
First Things First
OK…there are actually two first things. This will be tough when you are in such pain over this betrayal. When all you want to do is fight back, or die, or hope the earth swallows you whole. When you know that everyone who knows about this is watching you to see if what you claim about Jesus is real in your life.
And there are actually TWO first things you have to do. And, believe a brother when I tell you, it ‘s hard.
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” (Col 3:12-13 NASB)
Just as the Lord forgave all your sin, just as He died of that sin on your behalf, you, I, we, as the redeemed, are compelled to be like Him who redeemed you and forgave you. This will be hard because your flesh sees the world differently, and your flesh wants judgment, not mercy. Your flesh is hurt deeply. You want an open forum where these things can be put on trial. But I am telling you, if you have been to the cross, and have done business with the One who died on your behalf, justice has already been taken care of. And as He forgave you while he was being punished for your sin, so should you forgive the ones who hurt you, who attempt to destroy you, who have done you great and painful damage, you are to forgive.
Give it to God
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1Pe 5:6-7 NASB)
This does, in fact, take humbling. You have to realize your judgment is imperfect and at best, self-serving. You have to surrender your sense of self to the Divine Will of God. In humbling yourself, you will see much of your anger dissipate. And you will encounter His love.
CASTING YOUR CARES: I baled hay when I was younger. This was before these large round bales became the norm. A tractor pulled a large flatbed trailer. Two or four guys would run along either side of the trailer, and as they came up on a bale of hay, he’d grab the bale and throw it with all his might at the guy standing on the flatbed who stacked it. Over time, the flatbed filled up with bales. The guy catching the bales climbed higher and higher. I had to toss farther up. Eventually, it took all I had just to throw the bale up to the catcher. I threw with everything in my body had to throw with. It took more than sheer muscle to do this, it took will, desire, determination, and strength.
That is what it means to cast your cares. You do it with all your will, all your desire, all your determination, and all your might.
The other end of that word picture is, just like the guy catching your bale, God is standing at the top of your heap with outstretched arms, desiring, willing, and straining to catch your bail. If you will just toss it his way. He is, in fact, more able to deal with this obstacle. All those bails of hay were obstacles in the field I was running in. I had to confront them, I had to deal with them, but don’t you think it makes more sense to toss them to the guy who knows what to do with them, rather than carry each one on your back as you encounter them?
So these are the two things you have to do simultaneously:
Give it to God
I know this is hard, my friend. I know it because I have lived it, and am living it again. But God is my witness, if you forgive, as soon as possible, you will discover your love for the one who wronged you is so profound, that whatever hurt that person caused can be forgiven. You see him as God sees him. Forgiven and loved of the Father.
We all make mistakes. We all lie eventually. We all want to be justified in our actions, even if we know that what we are doing is purely selfish and self-serving. We even go so far as tell others this is what God wanted you to do. It may be, or it may not. But we have all been guilty. And we, as the redeemed in Christ, are forgiven. This does not mean we don’t reap what we sow, but it will not take you out of the hand of God. Unless you repent of the sin against your brother, you will reap what you sow, and you might still reap what you have sown, regardless. Trust God and give it to Him. He will Guide you.
IF you cast this care to God, He is waiting, straining in his reach toward you, desiring strongly that you give this to him. He will take care of this burden, and you will grow and be blessed. You will also see where you played a part in this fiasco, and be given wisdom how to redeem the error. He is sure to do all this for you if you will let Him.
And is willing beyond your ability to understand. He is your beloved Father. He knows exactly what it will take to complete you.
Let’s be about it.
I love you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
David G. Perkins