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Summary: We can have joy even in the midst of trials when we know and value what they are producing.

James 1:2-4


Do you recognize that slogan? If you are thinking of a TV commercial we are on the same wavelength. Who is it that uses that phrase in their advertising? The United States Army! I wonder how many of you want to be all that you can be? Perhaps as a mother or father, as a spouse, or a business person, a singer or an athlete? I just can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t want to be all that they can be. Why then aren’t you running down to the Army recruiter begging them to take you? That’s what they promise. Is it because you really don’t believe them? You know that they can’t make you all that you can be. It is just a hollow promise with no substance to it.

But what if someone, who always keeps his word, promises you that you can be all that you can be in one important area of your life? Would students listen to what that person has to say? How about parents or empty nesters or retirees? How about you? Would you listen to what they had to say?

Let’s suppose that the promise is that you can be all that you can be spiritually. Would that interest you? Maybe that’s why you came this morning. The book of James was written to teach you to solve problems God’s way so that you will become a complete, “be all that you can be,” Christian.

James 1:4 says, “And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

The Greek word for “perfect” is “teleios.” I think that has a nice sound to it -- that you may be a teleios man or woman. I can just hear some of you arguing with me already, and it sounds something like this, “Pastor, are you telling me I can be that type of Christian? You sound like the Army commercial, and I don’t believe it.”

But wait, before you write me off, let me try to define what James means when he uses these terms. The teleios person is one who is progressing in their Christian life on all fronts. This is not someone who is sinless but is someone who is maturing and growing in all areas of their life.

You may want to take a little inventory here. How about your life? Is it lacking in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self control? You get my point. James wants you to recognize possible lacks in your life and has written both to identify them and to tell you what to do about them.

Let’s look at what he says right off the bat in James 1:2-3, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” Could you be lacking in this area? I mean when trials come into your life do you meet them with joy?

Are you thinking, “Oh, come on, Pastor. God doesn’t really expect us to be joyful in the midst of trials. You don’t know what I’m going through!” James tells us that the teleios man does not lack joy even in the midst of tough times. This text seems to ask the impossible of you when you are cut from the team, when your dream boy tells you to drop dead, when you are fired from your job or when the child you waited for with such great anticipation is stillborn, or maybe like me, you realize you are getting older and life seems harder.

When you think in those terms isn’t God asking a lot? James has to explain to us what he means because we can’t really understand it when we take it at face value. There has to be more to it.

So let’s ask James some questions, just as if he were here:


Maybe we should start out by taking the position that James doesn’t know what he is talking about, after all he just wrote this one little book. The problem with dismissing him that way is that in Romans 5:34 Paul says, "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; {4} perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Let’s look at 1 Peter 4:12-13, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. {13} But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

Even Christ in Matthew 5:12-13 says something very much like this too, “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. {13} You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

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