(I am substitute teaching the children’s Sunday School class for a few weeks here. Below is an outline of the lesson from this past Sunday. The kids did a great job.)
James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.
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. – James 1:1-5 NASB
- What are trials? (Things that are hard)
- What kinds of trials do we experience?
- First though, what kind of trials don’t we experience? (A long ship ride for two weeks across the Atlantic; being at the top of a big, tall mountain and you don’t know how to get down again; having to run 100 miles without stopping; etc.)
- What kinds of trials do we experience? (A brother hitting you; being hungry and having to wait for Mom to prepare the meal; really wanting to do something but your parents say no; etc.)
- Do we count it all joy when we encounter various trials? (Certainly not.)
- But God even promises that the testing of our faith produces endurance and leads to us being perfect and complete! Now that we know that, are we all set to count it all joy? (Speaking honestly, no.)
- Why doesn’t the promise of being perfect and complete matter to us? (We really don’t care about being perfect and complete.)
We have Jesus’ command:
“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” –Matt. 5:48
Jesus commanded it, so now we want it, right? (No, not really)
A warning to the complacent
God warns us about those who are called by his name but do not pursue perfection and do not believe he means what he says.
Without sanctification (being perfected in holiness), we will not be saved:
Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears. – Hebrews 12:14-17
The centurion believed that Jesus meant what he said, and Jesus approved him; but Jesus warned the sons of the kingdom (the church kids):
But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. “For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – Matthew 8:8-12 NASB
The wheat and the tares
(Tares are weeds that look just like wheat only they do not produce fruit—they’re worthless.) God lets the wheat and tares grow together in this life, but the time will come when he separates them and burns the worthless tares:
Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”
Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” – Matthew 13:24-30,36-43
Question: So, are we safe, just by coming to church? (No!)
God commands perfection—his wrath will be poured out on those who do not seek it—yet we don’t even desire it. Are we wise? (No!) Do we lack wisdom? (Yes!)
What shall we do?
But if any of you lacks wisdom…
NOW we are ready for verse 5:
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. – James 1:5
God gives. Generously (not like he really wants to keep the toy we’re asking for)—without reproach (not mocking or berating us for how foolish we’ve been).
What a comfort! O children, let us come to God and ask for wisdom, that he would grant us the desire to be perfect and complete in Him so that we can truly count it all joy when we encounter various trials.