Have you ever questioned whether your faith is real? If you are truly one of God’s children?
Sometimes it hits me when I hear an amazing testimony of how God saved someone. Or when I literally forgot to pray for an entire week. Or when I open God’s word and feel like I’m reading Chinese (which I can’t, just so you know). Or when I mess up big, and feel the weight of the consequences of my sin.
It creeps in when we least expect it. If unchecked, or even worse...fed, it can wreak havoc in our lives.
But if you’ve ever come through a season of doubt to the other side, you’ll understand the value of examining your faith. It makes it stronger. Like, hyped up on steroids, stronger. Why? Because the very fact that you are momentarily doubting your salvation means you are processing what salvation actually is! Unbelievers don’t wrestle with whether they are saved or not. They either know they are not, or don’t care enough to figure out one way or the other.
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 2 Cor 13:5
But, what about those of us who feel like we’re a crappy Christian? What if that means we’re the ones of whom Jesus said:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
This verse used to scare me, but not anymore. The thing about these ‘workers of lawlessness’ is they did not believe Jesus was God. Just the next great teacher to follow. He was a stepping stool to their own glory.
So, how can we know for certain we are a child of God? He does it for us by sending trials. Oh joy!
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
I love this because it appears we don’t have to do much of anything but be tested. We don’t have to be steadfast. The testing produces it in us! The command in this verse is not to be steadfast. No, it’s to count your trials as joy!
Sounds easy...right? Or not.
But think back to all those times doubt has crept into your mind over your salvation. For me, the doubt was never about God’s ability. It was always focused on mine. It comes when I feel imperfect and incomplete, lacking SO MANY things. But James says the testing of my faith will actually produce those things in me. It’s not up to me to be those things on my own. It’s God’s sanctifying work in me that makes it all happen.
So my only role in all of it is to have a proper perspective of trials as they come.
- God sends trials to His children (so I am one) .
- He uses the trials to produce in me things I am lacking in (I don’t have to have all my stuff in a pile).
- He is perfecting me in his own timing, since I have no control over when these trials come (so I can quit striving to be better, do more, look perfect).
It frees us. Trials come. It’s a given in this life. But, instead of just having to endure trials and suffer through, hoping the next one is a long way off, we can rejoice in them! Trials make us more like Christ, who is the author and perfecter of our faith.
And what’s better than becoming more like our beautiful Savior? Nothing.