Why Faith Needs To Be Tested
James 1:2 instructs us to "count it all joy...when you meet trials of various kinds." In yesterday's devotion we determined that to do that we must be anchored to Jesus. The joy of Christ is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), which enables us to "count it all joy" when we "meet trials of various kinds." So why can I be joyful in trials?
James tells us in 1:3 "for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." The word "for" means because, which implies that verse 3 is the 'why' to verse 2. Look at what James says, in it he implies that as we go through trials what is happening is our faith is undergoing a test. What is undergoing a test - faith. What about our faith is being tested? Our belief and confidence in Jesus.
Why does my confidence in Christ need to be tested? Answer: to determine faith's genuineness. 1 Peter 1:6,7 writes, "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuine of your faith - more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Peter instructs us that is is "necessary", essential, important for us to be "grieved by various trials". You catch that - "necessary". The reason is so that our faith, as it is with gold which is not made genuine until put through the fire, might be proved genuine as it is tested by fiery trials.
Thus, God allows our faith to be tested by trials such as temptations, afflictions and calamity (natural disaster), in order that our faith and our confidence in Jesus might be proved authentic, real, sincere and free of hypocrisy. A faith that not tested is no faith at all. And God tests our faith so that when Christ returns in the twinkling of an eye we might found worthy to give praise, glory and honor to Him.
James also mentions a certain word that is often overlooked or read over quickly but necessary, the word "produces". Understand that the testing of your faith is not meaningless, it gives rise to something. The necessary testing of your faith causes something. The essential testing of your faith manufactures something. Meaning that the testing of your faith is purposeful! God does not allow meaningless suffering. Trials bring about some form of fruitfulness that cannot be produced without faith being tested through fiery trials.
What does the testing of my faith produce? "Steadfastness." Another name for "steadfastness" is patience. In fact, some translations such as the KJV uses the word patience instead of "steadfastness." So, trials of various kinds test our faith, not only to prove faith genuine, but to manufacture patience.
What is patience? Patience is the acquired quality and ability to go through trials of various kinds without complaining, loosing our temper and becoming irritable. To put it another way, God allows trials in our lives to help us acquire the ability to go through unfortunate times without complaint, loss of temper or irritation. We have all heard it said 'do not pray for patience', truth is, you do not have to. Trials will come, they will occur. If you are following Jesus in a world controlled by the prince of the air, Satan, you will face hardship. Trials are not a matter of 'if' but 'when'. What we need to know is that every trial we face is God manufacturing patience in us. For that, we can be joyful.