Saturday, August 13, 2005

What Young People Lack Today : Trials unto A Glorified Life

This is taken from part of Rev.Stephen Tong's expository of James on 13th February and 6th March 2005 regarding the necessity of trials in our lives, especially for the youngsters.

Often we think that we are great when we succeed and do well in life. When do we think that we have no wisdom? At time of poverty and persecution. At difficult times when we try our best and realize that we still cannot make it, we find that we need more wisdom.

Many young people are very confident of themselves, of their plan, their determination, their direction, their work, etc. They cast aside the words of the wise and the ancient and in their over-confidence they look at sufferings lightly, beautify things in their own imagination, and therefore devise all the wrong strategies for their life. Here are the weaknesses of the young generation:

- Over-confident
- Despise sufferings
- Disregard other people's experiences
- Miscalculate, misconduct, misjudge because of their idealization

Because of this, they will definitely fail and then begin to realize that they are human beings and not God. A lot of people pay high price for not worthwhile things. They waste time and energy and life. The greatest stupidity is in not knowing our own stupidity. The greatest waste is in not knowing how much we have wasted. The greatest crisis is the ignorance of crisis. Many people have to do so many things only to come back to square one and restart all over again.

Trials are related to Life. It is a glorified Life. A person without trials can have a very smooth and comfortable life and even appear very successful. But this is not a life that is glorified. It is a life that is shallow and immature. An old person who has not gone through much suffering has a very immature thinking but a young man who has gone through sufferings will have a mature character. Suffering is related to glory. The glory after trials is of great value.

What will happen if we lack trials in our life?

1. We will take God's grace for granted.
We take it as a normal thing that should be given to us so we no longer know how to give thanks. We don't know what it is like to have the grace withdrawn from us. A person who has not suffered will not treasure grace. We have Bible and we take it as a normal thing and often read our Bible without a heart of thanksgiving. It is a common phenomena that a place where the Bible is banned is the place where it is most read and treasured. Why would God remove opportunities and sometimes take away the freedom and the grace He gives us? Because He wants us to learn to respect His grace.

2. We will become self-righteous. We see all success as our own and we think that we receive because we deserve it. This is a very dangerous concept where people recognize their own works far more than they recognize God's grace.

3. We will not seek after God. We will live in the grace of God, but not in God. We know how to enjoy the grace of God, but not God Himself. But when sufferings come, we cannot grasp His grace that we commonly have and we learn to leave them and to enjoy God Himself. People who do not go through trials not only trample God’s grace, but often times even steal God’s glory.

4. We are ignorant of sufferings of others. We take it as their fate and destiny that has nothing to do with us. We have no empathy. All our actions come from our doctrine of God. Human hearts are too hard. Many Christians’ heart are very hard too. By very great trials, we will finally begin to open our heart a little bit to God. A person who has suffered will know how to empathize with others and comfort others and be of great help to others.

Two possible results of sufferings: We fail and bow to sufferings, or we ride over sufferings and triumph over them.

In Revelations 2:10 Jesus said to the church in Smyrna that they need to be faithful to the end, even unto death and they would receive the crown of life. Here we see again that trials are related to a glorified life.

Socrates said that an unexamined life is not worth living. It means that we are not worth living on this earth. In this, he affirms the value of sufferings.

If our lives are only enjoyable we will become harder in heart. We will not be moved by the sufferings of others. We don't even want to know. We cannot be of any help at all. What is the point of living on this earth then? Many people just want to live robotically and wait till they see God face to face.

We should rather treat trials as great joy. A mere life is different from a life with a crown of life.


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