Summary: To see trials as times when God is pruning us and making us more useful for Himself
Consider It All Joy SBC Philippi, Rev. J Simms
Primary Purpose: A primary introduction to James and to discuss how we can be joyful in trials.
Background: This book was written by James, the half-brother of Jesus. He wasn’t a believer through Jesus’ earthly ministry. But, was among those who Jesus appeared to after the resurrection. (1 Cor 15:7) James was among the leaders of the church in Jerusalem. He is probably writing this about 10-15 years after the resurrection. Persecution has already dispersed many of the believers from Jerusalem. (Acts 8:1)
James could have written his letter as a brother of Jesus and boasted of that relationship. Instead, we see him call himself a servant of the Lord. The word servant here is the word doulous which is a reference to slavery, but not bondage. The servant here serves willingly. God doesn’t force us to serve him.
He is writing to those who in many cases have lost nearly everything for their faith. They are poor in the eyes of the world. James wants to encourage them and through them also us that our trials are not for nothing, but God sees them.
James then sees trials from a different perspective. This allows him to say to consider it joy when you go through different trials. The word joy here is the word chara which means joy, delight, rejoice. James is saying that there is a point to what you are going through. We know that Paul also says this in Romans 8:28 when he says that “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and to those who are called according to His purpose.” It isn’t that God sees that all things happen for the good of the believer, but that God brings out good to those who love God. It means he can bring some good things out of the bad that happen to us. Paul says the same thing that James does in Romans 5:3-5 “and not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, . . . .” The end result is what Paul rejoices in not the fact that he suffers.
One of the results of this trial is that of proving patience. We could think of it like gold being refined through a fire. The fire purges the dross and dirt out of the gold and makes it more valuable. Likewise, this is what trials can do to the faith and strength of a believers walk with Christ. It causes us to do away with those things that hinder us and makes us take our walk with Christ more seriously than before. We may realize in trial for the first time that we are not self-sufficient that we need help.
So, James says that this pruning your experiencing produces endurance or the KJV says “patience” which is the word hupomone which means to abide under. I think of what the writer of Hebrews wrote in Hebrews 12:1-2 when it says “Let us throw off everything that hinders and thesin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, . . . .” This may be part of what James intends. The suffering of various trials cause us to contemplate the cost and helps us to lay aside those things that entangle us and to fix our eyes on Jesus more clearly.