Summary: A look at why James tells us to be joyful when trials and temptations come. We become stronger and more like Jesus in the process.
The path of life isn’t an easy path to walk. It’s filled with all kinds of trials; like sickness and disease, accidents, disappointments, sufferings and death and also all the trials we go through concerning sin and being seduced. What we need is a guaranteed way to conquer all the trials of life. That is what the first few verses in the book of James is all about. There is a way to conquer and triumph in this life no matter how severe the trial and that is by having a spirit of joy and perseverance as we face each trial and temptation. Turn with me to James 1 as we begin.
READ vv. 1-2. It’s a fact that we are going to have many trials and temptations. I know we don’t see it as such but the temptations and trials of life are beneficial to us. They are permitted by God for a good purpose. Why is that? What is the purpose? To make us stronger and purer.
When we conquer trials, we become wiser and purer. We become a stronger person, more steadfast and persevering. When we stand up against trials, we become a dynamic witness to all those who see us. We demonstrate the power of Christ. When you’re going through a crisis, after it’s all done and everything falls back into place, don’t you get that feeling of accomplishment? You conquered it. You now are experienced in that trial if it ever occurs again and now you are equipped to help others that might be going through a similar trial.
God wants us to face the temptations and trials of life and to conquer them, and by conquering them to become much more like Christ and to make Christ more fully known to the world.
Another thing to notice in verse 2 is that James says we will fall into all kinds of temptations and trials. The Greek language gives us the picture of being surrounded by all these trials. So, even though there will be many kinds of trials and temptations, we need to remember that no matter what it is that attacks us, it is for our good and for our benefit. It’s to help us. It’s to make us more like Jesus.
Remember to 2 Cor. 4:17 which tells us, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,”
Peter wrote and said in 1 Peter 4:14, “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”
READ vv.2-4. The attitude needed to face the trials and temptations of life goes against everything that the world teaches us. The attitude we are to have is JOY. We are to face every trial and temptation with a spirit of joy. How is that possible? How can we be joyful when life crashes in on us?
You find out you or someone you know has cancer or has lost a loved one. How can we be joyful? When a nagging temptation hurls itself upon us time and time again and we are worn out from fighting it, how can we be joyful through that?
Joy is not what usually fills our heart when we face these things. When severe trials come our way, too often we become discouraged and feel defeated. Most of us certainly don’t have joy.
There’s only way to face trials with a spirit of joy. We have to switch our thinking. We have to turn our attitude about trials and temptations completely around. We have to quit thinking negatively and think positively. In the words of Scripture, we must know something and we must do something.
First, we must KNOW that trials and temptations develop perseverance. READ v. 3. We must know that trials and temptations are not to defeat and discourage us, but to make us stronger and more pure and righteous. Perseverance means to be steadfast and to endure. They will actually make us more like Jesus. And when we think about it THAT way, we can automatically be more positive in how we approach the trials of life.
But not only must we KNOW something, we must DO something. We must let this perseverance finish its work within us. In the original Greek language, the word used for “perseverance” means more that just bearing and putting up with the trials. It means more than taking things easy, and being calm and relaxing during stressful times. It means to keep on persevering, never giving in. It means putting forth the effort and energy to conquer and gain the victory over that trial.
So, what James is saying is that if we face each trial or temptation with the attitude of joy, that we can not only persevere through it, but conquer it and become stronger and more like Christ.