This morning I was reading through James 1 and these verses stuck out to me: 1:2-4, 12 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (NIV)
I was thinking about what it takes to receive the crown of life, which led me to wonder how exactly I’m supposed to persevere under trial. I don’t live in a situation where my Christianity is persecuted. The trials I face are relatively minor compared to a lot of other folks’. And then I remembered 1 Peter 1:7, where Peter says, “These [trials] have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (NIV). What things prove the genuineness of my faith?
It’s easy to look at the big decisions in life as opportunities, but I was re-convicted it’s the small, daily choices that really show my life’s trajectory. It’s living by the Spirit (Gal. 5), since God is the one who makes us mature and complete (Phil 1:6). Am I loving my husband and kids? Am I being faithful to use my time wisely? Most importantly, am I trying to control things/provide for myself or am I surrendering to God? That’s where the real rub is. In my current writing project (potentially titled: “To Push on the Rock”), I’ve been working on a section about how we can do all the right things with the wrong motives and it looks fine to an outsider, but it’s still sin. I can work hard to stay out of debt, but am I doing it because I believe that’s the way God wants me to live or am I doing it because I’m scared of not having enough money?
Those small, daily choices are not easy. And when things are hard is when I see what’s really in my heart. Stress can cause me to do things I wouldn’t dream of doing at other times. I’ll yell at my kids when the house is a mess and we’re running late and one of them is melting down. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. Am I living by the Spirit even when things are difficult? Are you? How do you remind yourself to live by the Spirit even in the daily grind?