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Posted by Carol Swenson (Member # 6929) on
A Surrendered Will
(James 1:4, 9-12)
God cannot build our character without our cooperation. If we resist Him, then He chastens us into submission. But if we submit to Him, then He can accomplish His work. He is not satisfied with a halfway job. God wants a perfect work; He wants a finished product that is mature and complete.
God’s goal for our lives is maturity. It would be a tragedy if our children remained little babies. We enjoy watching them mature, even though maturity brings dangers as well as delights. Many Christians shelter themselves from the trials of life, and as a result, never grow up. God wants the “little children” to become “young men,” and the “young men” He wants to become “fathers” (1 John 2:12-14).
Paul outlined three works that are involved in a complete Christian life (Eph. 2:8-10). First, there is the work God does for us, which is salvation. Jesus Christ completed this work on the cross. If we trust Him, He will save us. Second, there is the work God does in us: “For we are His workmanship.” This work is known as sanctification: God builds our character and we become more like Jesus Christ, “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). The third work is what God does through us—service. We are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works.”
God builds character before He calls to service. He must work in us before He can work through us. God spent twenty-five years working in Abraham before He could give him his promised son. God worked thirteen years in Joseph’s life, putting him into “various testings” before He could put him on the throne of Egypt. He spent eighty years preparing Moses for forty years of service. Our Lord took three years training His disciples, building their character.
But God cannot work in us without our consent. There must be a surrendered will. The mature person does not argue with God’s will; instead, he accepts it willingly and obeys it joyfully. “Doing the will of God from the heart” (Eph. 6:6). If we try to go through trials without surrendered wills, we will end up more like immature children than mature adults.
Jonah is an illustration of this. God commanded Jonah to preach to the Gentiles at Nineveh, and he refused. God chastened Jonah before the prophet accepted his commission. But Jonah did not obey God from the heart. He did not grow in this experience. How do we know? Because in the last chapter of Jonah, the prophet is acting like a spoiled child! He is sitting outside the city pouting, hoping that God will send judgment. He is impatient with the sun, the wind, the gourd, the worm, and with God.
One difficult stage of maturing is weaning. A child being weaned is sure that his mother no longer loves him and that everything is against him. Actually, weaning is a step toward maturity and liberty. It is good for the child! Sometimes God has to wean His children away from their childish toys and immature attitudes. David pictured this in Psalm 131: “Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child” (Ps. 131:2). God uses trials to wean us away from childish things; but if we do not surrender to Him, we will become even more immature.
In James 1:9-11, James applies this principle to two different kinds of Christians: the poor and the rich. Apparently, money and social status were real problems among these people (see James 2:1-7, 15-16; 4:1-3, 13-17; 5:1-8). God’s testings have a way of leveling us. When testing comes to the poor man, he lets God have His way and rejoices that he possesses spiritual riches that cannot be taken from him. When testing comes to the rich man, he also lets God have His way, and he rejoices that his riches in Christ cannot wither or fade away. In other words, it is not your material resources that take you through the testings of life; it is your spiritual resources.
Posted by Betty Louise (Member # 7175) on
Thought of you and homeschool the other day.
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