Facing adversity

This lesson comes from the work of Mark Ramsey of Crossroads Baptist Church.

I. Our natural reaction

When you are “done wrong,” what is your natural reaction?

Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. (James 5:9 NASB)

II. God’s supernatural alternative

The Lord wants us to overcome our natural reaction with a supernatural response. Why?

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. (1 Peter 2:18‭-‬20 NASB)

When we respond in a supernatural way, the Bible says God is pleased and your reaction finds favor with God. (1 Peter 2:19-20) (commendable and conscious of God and commendable before God)

III. Four gifts (four point plan)

  1. Be patient (James 5:7a) – In Greek, “patient” is translated as “long suffering” How many of you consider yourselves patient? How many of your friends, spouse, or family members consider you patient? 1 Corinthians 13:4 (love’s first response)

    Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, (1 Corinthians 13:4 NASB)

    Secondly, patience is essential to learning. An old Greek motto: “The first necessity of learning is patience.”

  1. a. Illustration (James 5:7b-8a) – a premature planting or untimely harvest could spell a disaster. Because of the imminent coming of Christ. Don’t quit.

    The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; (James 5:7‭b-‬8a NASB)

  1. Stand firm (James 5:8b)

    strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. (James 5:8b NASB)

    Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. (Psalms 55:22 NASB)

    casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7 NASB)

    Rather than looking to ourselves or the unfair circumstances, the Genesis 50:20 principle (or 50-20 principle, for short) allows us to focus on God. When we apply this principle, it allows us to see God as our Teacher and the other person as a tool for making me into the person God intends me to be.

    The next time you are wronged unjustly, do you think you can stand firm? Can you bolster your spirit with God’s word? Can you bolster your spirit with God’s people?

    As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. (Genesis 50:20 NASB)

  1. Do not complain (grumble) (James 5:9) – The translation of “grumbling” is an internal, unexpressed attitude of bearing a grudge, which is a forerunner of bitterness and hatred. This attitude merits the judgement of God, Who is standing at the door.

    Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. (James 5:9 NASB)

    Can anyone relate to “grumbling?”

    Is anyone holding a grudge against someone who wronged you? If so, how will you release that bitterness so that it will not turn into hatred? (Remember, the Judge is standing at the door.)

  1. a. Illustration (James 5:10-11a) – Hebrews 11:35b-37a. These saints endured suffering in the midst of these trials. As did Job.

    As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. (James 5:10‭-‬11a NASB)

    Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (Hebrews 11:35‭-‬37 NASB)

  1. b. Illustration (James 5:11b) – In spite of all that Job went through, he never lost his faith in God (Job 19:25). It was his gallant spirit and his faith in God which allowed him to come out on the other side (Job 42:12a).

    You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. (James 5:11b NASB)

    As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. (Job 19:25 NASB)

    The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; (Job 42:12a NASB)

  1. Do not swear (James 5:12) -The word “swear” does not refer primarily to profanity, but to the idea of “taking an oath.” Example: “I swear by God, I didn’t do it; As God is my witness, …”

    But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great K ing . Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil. (Matthew 5:34‭-‬37 NASB)

    Answer succinctly and with authenticity. Endure trials with humility and simplicity.

    Are your words so honest that you don’t have to swear to convince someone that you are telling the truth? If not, how can you change your words?

    If we are not true to our words, does that say anything to unbelievers about the God we follow?

IV. Wrapping it up

Applying this four-point plan is obviously not easy, which means that it requires supernatural empowerment. That is why these four characteristics are gifts.

Have you ever thanked the Lord for allowing you to suffer unjustly because He allows you to identify with Christ’s unjust suffering?

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. (John 15:18‭-‬19 NASB)

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (1 Peter 1:6‭-‬7 NASB)

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