Is the Bible Practical?

     Every person in the world, whether religious and spiritual or secular and worldly, has to learn to deal with the problems of everyday living. Everybody has to deal with sickness, injury, and bereavement at some point in their life. Every person has to learn to navigate the pitfalls of adolescence, adulthood, middle age, retirement, and old age. Every person has to deal, at some point or another, with those that would take advantage of him, those that would offend, and those that are offended by us, whether intentional or not. Each of us must learn to deal with difficulties of many different types.

     The New Testament book by James is a letter written to Christians that were learning or needed to learn how to face these difficulties. By including this type of instruction the Bible is shown to be extremely practical. James not only shows how the gospel makes a difference in handling everyday trials but proceeds to discuss many other everyday subjects like self-esteem, the unfairness of life, how to keep on getting out of bed every morning, life philosophy, hot tempers, etc. While we don’t have formal discussions on each of these every day, we know that our view of each of these items dictates how we live every day.

     So let’s look at the first topic James covers:

(James 1:2)  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  (3)  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  (4)  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  (5)  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  (6)  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  (7)  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;  (8)  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

     As stated before, everyone encounters problems in life. The gospel teaches us that we can actually benefit from having faced these difficulties. If we don’t allow these obstacles to deter us from our course, we develop the kind of character that will carry us far.

     This requires that we “count it all joy” to be in such challenges. This is what Jesus did (“for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross,” Hebrews 12:2). He had opportunities to choose an easier, happier path (Matthew 4:8-9) but instead found joy in what he could accomplish by fulfilling his sacrifice. The apostles likewise found joy in suffering dishonor (including beatings) as long as it advanced the gospel (Acts 5:40-41).

     James also notes that we must “know” this truth, in other words, don’t forget it! He also implores that we “let” these trials and the resultant personal growth “have its full effect.” We tend to be impatient to get on with our own agenda. James here implores that we let God’s timetable run its due course.

     Finally James reminds us to ask God for the wisdom to handle these situations. We all realize we need wisdom as we walk through this world. We must decide where we will find that wisdom. God stands so ready to give if we will only ask him with trust in our hearts.

 

Gary Greene

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