Oct 14, 2018 – The Wisdom of Trusting God Is Generous
Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series – James: Distilling Faith
James 1:1-11 (ESV)
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
Gaining wisdom (v5) requires the unwavering conviction that God is generous.
I) What you have to do
- v5 “God, who gives generously to all without reproach”
- v6 “let him ask in faith, with no doubting”
- a consistent choice
II) What you have to know
- v6 “the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind”
- v10 “like a flower” v11 “the rich man will fade away in the midst of his pursuits”
- vv7-8 “that person… is… unstable in all his ways”
- understand the dynamics and consequences
III) What you have to see
- v9 “let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation”
- the paradigm shift of the gospel
Questions for Reflection
- What forms of theological doubts do you have? What do you have difficulty believing or making sense of?
- In general, are you inclined to have confidence in what you think, or are you typically filled with questions or uncertainty? Why do you think that is?
- In situations where you recognize you are not trusting God’s generosity, what mental steps or principles can help you think through what you should do? What choices can you make?
- How do you trust God is good and generous when you face trials and challenges that seem to indicate the opposite?
- What forces are at work to move you through life? What influences do you recognize? What influences do you wish had no effect on you? How can you be less vulnerable to problematic forces that are part of our culture, your peer group, your work environment, etc.?
- Why do you pursue things you know are not good for you?
- Does the fact that God sent Jesus, giving himself for us, help you see the depth of God’s generosity? In what ways? Or, are you unconvinced, and if so, why?
- Will your outlook and experience in life be more optimistic and hopeful if you see with greater conviction that because of Jesus Christ, you can know God is generous? What can you note so that you can maintain the conviction that God is generous? What are realistic expectations for life as we hold that God is generous, even while we know trials and challenges are before us?
Prayer of Confession
Our Father in heaven, we confess your goodness and generosity as true, even while we acknowledge our own failure to hold firmly to this conviction. We are blind to the many forces at work in our lives and we act without understanding what we are doing. We are quick to doubt your generosity, or to ignore it as though it were irrelevant. We admit our folly. We pray for wisdom. Help us to see the world with new eyes, with the correction that only the gospel of Jesus Christ brings. Forgive us and refine us. Amen.