Faith has an Eternal Perspective!
James 1: 9-11
General idea: Do you have a daring, determined faith? Our Lord wants us to move into more maturity by moving our mindset away from false beliefs and ideas. What we tend to pursue, in our desires in life, is meaningless and goes against the backdrop of seeking real, dynamic faith and the call that Christ gives us. How do we keep on His faith track? Perspective! Perspective is the mental view or outlook of what we see in our world, our circumstances, our situation, and our Lord. The reality and outcome of these viewpoints influence our beliefs that build our faith and then in turn, influence our attitude that affects our actions. This will help determine our character, maturity, spiritual growth, how we deal with problems, and how we can make our situations positive and meaningful! Without proper perspective, we are torn apart by our desires plus the world's influence, and our faith and God's precepts are ignored.
- Perspective is also hope that we are to have because of the reality of Christ's redemption. Our hope is anchored in Christ by faith because He paid our debt. As a result, we recognize that He is more than able to carry us through whatever happens to us. We are able to see beyond the appearance of our circumstances and into the depths of our significance in Christ. Then, our faith will be more dynamic and centered on the heart of God. This thinking causes us to see interrelations and outcomes that are more pleasing to Him.
- Look at things that take the place of our faith-money (greed and corruption), sex (unhealthy relationships), and power (pride and arrogance that oppresses others). These are of no use unless they are tools for His glory-as in money (stewardship), sex (good marital relationships), and power (positive influence and encouragement). During the course of our lives, pursuits will burn away and become of no value. Only what we learn, how we grow, and the people we touch will be the real values that echo throughout eternity!
- Money really does not bring satisfaction; it only takes a person from one set of problems to another. Being either rich or poor will bring trials and circumstances from which we need to learn and to overcome. Our focus needs to be on Christ and not wealth. Christ, who saves us, is the same Christ who is there for us and gives us significance and hope. Being rooted in Christ means our social structures have been obliterated (Gal. 3:28).
- Wealth is never a proof of God's work or blessings-only growth in Him is. Wealth is not wrong; it is only a tool. However, it can also be a deadly distraction! Wealth does not bring real security or contentment-only more trials and obstacles! James is condemning the Jewish aristocracy who viewed material blessings as a sign of God's blessing. This is not so!
· Our real treasure is who we are in Christ, not what we have (Psalm 103; Job. 14:2; Isaiah 40:6-7)! It is all because of who we are in Christ, not because of our circumstances! Christ will take us beyond our circumstances. The world cannot give us true riches-only Christ can; He gives us our hope! Thus, we need to see beyond our pain and our broken world.
- Through our faith in Christ, we have the determination and ability to make something better of ourselves by spiritual, emotional, and social growth for our Lord's glory. We do this by viewing our situations from a higher perspective. If we have the mindset of learning in this way, trials will work for us and not against us!
- When we are in Christ, we can have a daring, determined faith! God vindicates the poor and oppressed. God will judge the oppressor harshly-especially those who have, yet do not share with those who do not have (Psalm 102; Isa. 40:6-7). Since we are not spiritually poor or oppressed, we have the opportunity to either get out of our situation, or He will give us the power so that we can endure! But, beware that our distractions, riches, and poverty can also bring upsets and bad circumstances. Riches can also lead us to be self-focused. Being self-focused will never gain us a thing of real meaning. Our perspective is the crucial key!
· We must look at the big picture from God's perspective, as best as we can, so we can see what He has for us and what we can learn. This also helps us see our self worth in Christ, and this, in turn, produces godliness and deeper faith (James 3; Heb. 5:14). Human social structure is not God social structure! Asking for wisdom means to be committed to the faith and to what God gives (Gal. 3:26-29; James 2:14-26).
- Our perspective for faith and daily living is eternity. When we see our lives here on earth as mere rehearsals of how to learn and build toward eternity, we can be better prepared to face anything-even dire situations and death, because our eyes and attitude are focused on Him and not our circumstances! If we do not learn through our trials and circumstances, they will have been a waste. We need to seek their purpose and allow them to better us, not bitter us! When we trust in Christ, we allow ourselves to learn from suffering and do not take our blessings for granted.
When we realize who we are in Christ, all of our problems and opportunities come into much better perspective (1 Pet. 1:6-7). We need to realize where our security is placed; is it in "stuff" that will rot, or in Christ, who loves us and is eternal? We should never trust in wealth or what is temporary when we can have so much more in Him! We need to admit we cannot get out of trials by ourselves just by working harder and realize Christ is willing and able to help us! He cares! Go to Him with all honesty; do not make up situations, edit, or distort them, for He already knows. Seek Him, His perspective, and His wisdom to give you understanding, skills, opportunities, forgiveness, Fruit, the help of others, attitude update, counseling, or whatever it may be. Then, do what He directs you to do (Prov. 2:6; John 7:17).
God gives us the plan and the victory. We may not see it at times, but nonetheless, victory is there; victory comes from being obedient. Our key to growth as well as to reaching others for Christ is our patience as we rely on God's power (Acts 1:8; Galatians 5:16-18)! God gives us His Spirit and His power in love. We are to take that power of love, with the care and compassion that God gives us, and present it as a tender mercy (Luke 1:77-79; Colossians 3:12-17). Your growth and experiences while coming out of trials will be the evidence of Christ's power! Your ability to be a Christian who realizes that you are a witness to the light of Christ will be the light that impacts others. Your reliability in being a light to those who are weak in Him or do not know Him will be the essence of Christ that others may see in you (John 1:6-9; 1 John 1:7)!
What is our benefit of perspective? Perspective will focus us upon Christ as Lord, the One to carry us through and will interconnect that with our spiritual formation of faith and personal growth. When we are growing, we become more mature in Him and more contagious with our faith. We are then able to witness because we have something to say and something to model that people want. Everyone hurts; everyone needs help! When we grow, we become the church that Christ designed, mobilized in Him to be welcoming and connective to others for Him. This is the church triumphant! Let us, as the church triumphant, adhere to His call and follow. Apply your faith! Watch yourself succeed and grow and become contagious to others (Psalm 16:11; 107:09; Isa. 26:3; John 14:21; Gal. 5:16; 22-23; 1 John 1:7-9; 3 John 4)!
Put yourself in Jesus' hands, so your heart will be on Him and not on what you desire. You will then become a person of faith and integrity, one who is surrendered and poured out to Christ, who can and will be powerfully used in the lives of others (John 3:30; Gal. 2:20-21; Phil. 3:10)!
1. Do you have a daring, determined faith?
2. As you look back on your life, do you see good times or bad times as more prominent?
3. How would you describe your perspective on life; what is God doing in you and through you?
4. How important are your perspectives and viewpoints on life? Are you confident that you are right? How does this affect your faith?
5. Have you realized yet that how you deal with trials will determine your character, maturity, and spiritual growth? Have you realized that how you deal with problems can make your situation positive and meaningful? How so? If not, what is in the way?
6. How does being self-focused or money-focused prevent you from gaining anything of real meaning?
7. How does your ability to be a Christian who realizes you are a witness to the Light of Christ become the light that impacts others? Do you realize that your reliability in being a light to those who are weak in Him or do not know Him will be the essence of Christ seen in you (John 1:6-9; 1 John 1:7)?
8. When we realize who we are in Christ, all of our problems and opportunities come into perspective. How has this been so for you? How can this be so for you?
9. How can you put yourself in Jesus' hands, to be more of a person of faith and integrity? How can you be one who is surrendered and poured out to Christ and used powerfully in the lives of others (John ; Gal. 2:20-21; Phil. 3:10)?
10. How can you seek Him, His perspective, and His wisdom to give you greater understanding, skills, trust, hope, security, and opportunities?