Okay. Have you memorized these questions?
- What do I know for sure?
- Do I care to know?
- How can I be sure?
- Does it matter?
- What can I do?
Not yet, huh? Oh well, if you don’t want to overcome stress in your life, I guess I can’t force you to memorize these questions. But let’s see where we are now so far. We’ve talked about the following already:
Let’s now move on to the last question: “What can I do?”
Yes, what can YOU do? When you’re stressed out by other people or by circumstances, what options do you have? Based on James 1:2-18, there are two “faith choices” we can and must do.
- Rejoice in your transformation
- Resist all kinds of temptation
Let’s examine these these two “faith choices” further…
Rejoice in your transformation
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
This first paragraph is clear. We are to rejoice because whatever difficulties we are experiencing on the outside is actually helping us to become better people. We are being transformed! But it all depends on your attitude and behavior. It depends on whether we will persevere, pray, and maintain our perspective. Perseverance is the difficult process of hanging in there in the midst of trials. Prayer, on the other hand, is the rope that we hang on to in the midst of the trials. We cannot have one without the other. With regard to prayer, we must do it with single-mindedness, not double-mindedness. But we must also maintain our perspective…
9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
Trials come to all kinds of people, whether rich or poor. Having the right perspective is the third key to rejoicing in our formation. Poor people must see themselves as having dignity in Christ. Rich people must learn to put their hope in the Lord and not in their riches. Perseverance, prayer, and perspective. These are the essential attitudes that eventually lead to the promise of God being fulfilled in our lives, which is our transformation in Christ.
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:2-12)
Resist all kinds of temptation
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
The second faith choice is to resist all kinds of temptations. We can only do so if we are willing to take responsibility for our decisions and not blame God for our choices.
16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (James 1:13-18)
Resisting temptation also involves trusting God’s unchanging character. He is a good, good Father, and He loves us. This will protect us from the deception that comes from the evil one, especially when we are being stressed out by people or circumstances.
When we are under stress, we should ask ourselves the question, “What can I do” The answer is twofold: 1) Rejoice in your transformation and 2) Resist all kinds of temptation. In summary, what truly matters is how we respond.