Sometimes, people ask me, “What translation of the Bible should I read?” Without starting controversies regarding accuracies of the newer translations vs. the King James Version, my best response is, “Select a translation that you will READ.”
In today’s post, I’d like to share a few Scripture texts from different translations so that you might get a feel for how the Lord can and does speak during study. I don’t pretend to have a scholarly approach, just a hunger to seek the Truth of the Word, so forgive me if I miss a few obvious points. This message is what the Spirit of God has whispered to me.
I believe in writing in my Bible. Some people wouldn’t think of marring the page with highlighters and an ink pen, but it’s proven invaluable to me when sermon notes warranted remembrance. It was just this sort of note making in my Amplified Translation while studying James 1:2-4 that helped me understand my various trials in a different way.
Now, if you have ever had occasion to read Scriptures in the Amplified Translation, you know why it is referred to as “The Woman’s Version” of the Bible. Specific words are “amplified” and the meanings of Greek and Hebrew language are expounded to magnify our understanding of the textual content. In other words, IT IS VERY WORDY. At first glance, just gazing over commas, parentheses, and brackets can feel like an Olympic game of “leap frog!” Maybe that’s why it’s my favorite study translation alongside my Mother’s Scoffield Bible. Its commentary and her scribbled notes in the margin are a treasure trove that her hand has left for me.
Yes, a good word study becomes a challenging hunt to understand what God is saying to His children of that time, across many generations of believers and to my current personal life application. We serve a God who wants to really know us in personal, intimate ways. He is Father and Daddy, and He wants to communicate His love letters to me and to you, too. More importantly, He wants us to really know Him and love Him back.
Let’s examine and compare a few examples of one of my favorite texts, James 1:2-4. From the Living Bible, a paraphrase that is meant to be an “easier read,” we find this:
“Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So, let it grow and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.”
Did you catch the directive from the Holy Spirit writing through the hand of James? Don’t try to squirm out of your problems? I don’t know about you, but I wiggle lots to avoid troubles.
As I have pursued following Jesus in Christian life, I have discovered this to be at the heart of my struggle to maturity in faith. I can only speak for myself, but I know other believers who are also quick to abandon faith in the midst of personal trials. We humans are seekers of a peace without conflict because this is the world’s idea of peace. In so doing, we fail to endure the fiery trials that produce a living, breathing testimony. Without fire, there is no testimony. Without mess, there is no “message” of how God worked to clean it all up.
The American Standard Bible translation adds an overlay. Notice in verse 2, James uses the word, “when” you encounter various trials…not “if.”
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Peter also writes to us in 1Peter 1:6-7,
“In this, you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary you have been distressed by various trials, 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.”
Though I may not fully embrace a complete understanding while enduring the fire, (actually, most of the time I am oblivious because it feels like the 2-minute warning at the end of the game and my head is buried in a hole at the opposite goal line), I am beginning to see that my trials are the proving ground of my faith. God’s ultimate purpose is to display His Working Hands in order that Jesus is glorified in my life. What is proven in me through these various trials is a reward far more valuable than any Olympic gold medal!
When I eventually studied James 1:2-4 in the Amplified translation, I experienced a new sense of wonder at the work of endurance, steadfastness and patience.
“Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.”
As I read the words “LET” and “FULL PLAY,” I suddenly saw these words frolicking over one another like a friendly game of “leap frog.” Somehow, this revelation about perseverance became a new landscape for what seemed like my personal Olympic “life games.” As with any hosting nation, there are many years of planning and preparation for the participating countries, their athletes, coaches, sponsors, family members, international fans, advertisers and media support. Great expense and investments bring hopes for even greater rewards in potential commerce and it takes massive collaboration, diplomacy and dedication to manifest the vision of every Olympian.
The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat always occupy the same playground when circumstances and people play “leap frog”. Life happens…we miss the mark. We give up, we disappoint others and ourselves. We fail, we sin. Win or lose, persevering through our trials proves the genuineness of the Gold in us. God uses it all to get our attention, to uproot us from our spiritual dead places, to call us back to Himself. With kind and tender compassion, He brings us back to our inheritance…a Life and Faith in Him that is Alive and Vital.
Yes, God uses it ALL to fully develop His Kingdom, His virtue, character and goodness in His children….because He loves us. And sometimes it takes an Olympic-size trial to work this perfection in our souls…and then again, it might only take a child’s game of leap frog….
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