Walk This Way - July 14, 2019

Walk This Way

Week 2: James 1:2-18

The walk of faith that James teaches us to walk is not random or aimless. God’s goal for our lives is maturity. And the path that leads to mature, Christ-like character involves testing and trial. Are you ready for the tests in your life? Our response to trials can mature us if we remember that God is always working for our good. But sometimes that is really hard to see in the moment and we can get confused about how to move forward. So James invites us to pray for wisdom and to move forward with the confidence that God is eager to give it generously. Sometimes trials highlight our limitations and we might wish we were better off. But James reminds those who feel lowly that having God on your side is far better. The resources that we might think would make everything easier are weak and unreliable by comparison. And in the face of trials, we might sometimes wonder if God is against us. Our evil desires even have the capacity to take a trial filled with opportunity for growth and turn it into a temptation to settle for something less - sin. God never tempts us toward evil. He is always working for our good. He promises a crown of life for those who stand the test and his gifts are always good and perfect. Remembering these truths will help us ace life’s hardest tests.

Discussion Starter:

What is the hardest test you can remember taking either in school or for some other purpose?

Getting into the Text:

1.  (James 1:2-4) What is God’s goal for us according to this verse? Compare James 1:2-4 with Romans 8:18 and 8:28-29. How would you describe God’s standard for maturity or completeness?

2.  (James 1:5-8) Why is wisdom a good thing to pray for when enduring a trial? What do we learn about God’s nature in these verses? How should we reconcile God’s promise to give wisdom freely to anyone who asks with the warning that the double-minded person will not receive anything from the Lord? What does it mean to ask in faith?

3.  (James 1:9-11) If you were a poor believer hearing James’ words in the first century A.D., what would be your reaction? How is the false security of wealth or similar resources related to the way both rich and poor might approach times of testing and trial?

4.  (James 1:12-16) Does God ever test our faith by tempting us to sin? Why might someone say that they are being tempted by God? Where do temptations to sin come from? What additional insight does 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 offer on the subject of temptation?

5.  What truths about God’s character appear in James 1:12-18? How can these help us to effectively face both trials from the outside and temptations from within?

Application:

1.  Are you on board with God’s goal of maturing you? It can be harder to face trials and testing as God intends if you don’t accept his ultimate purpose in them. Spend some time praying that God would transform your thinking so that you want what he wants for you.

2.  Jesus knows what it is like to face trials and temptations. (See Hebrews 4:14-16.) When we pray for wisdom and the strength to endure, we are praying to a God who knows personally what we are going through and what we need. He has been betrayed, rejected, and falsely accused. God has his own wayward children and he equates Israel’s forsaking of his love to that of an adulterer. If you are in a trial right now, draw strength from the evidence in God’s word that he knows, understands, and cares. Here are some passages that may be especially meaningful to you in the middle of a trial: Matthew 26:36-46, Lamentations 3:16-26, many of the Psalms (e.g. 6 and 13).