Summary: We’re going to look at James’ outrageous proposal, why Christians - above all others - are destined for trials, and how Christians should respond differently to them than other people.
COUNT IT ALL JOY
A. HUMOR: EVOLUTION JOKE
1. Orangutan One day the zoo-keeper noticed that the orangutan was reading two books - the Bible and Darwin's Origin of Species.
2. Surprised, he asked the ape, "Why are you reading both those books?" "Well," said the orangutan, "I just wanted to know if I was my brother's keeper or my keeper's brother."
James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. NKJV.
Message Version James 1:1-4
1 I, James, am a slave of God and the Master Jesus, writing to the twelve tribes scattered to Kingdom Come: Hello! Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
1. James says, “Count it.” This word, hegeomai, is the most common word used for counting/ computation in the N.T.
2. James says that Christians need to be trained to be good accountants; to know what to place on each side of the ledger.
3. On one side we’re to put, "Various temptations" and on the other side we’re to put "Large profit!" How is this possible?
4. We’re going to look at James’ outrageous proposal, why Christians - above all others - are destined for trials, and how Christians should respond differently to them than other people.
5. The title of this message is “Count It All Joy.”
I. JAMES’ OUTRAGEOUS PROPOSAL
A. NOT AN ERRONEOUS TEACHING
1. James advances one of the most outrageous and remarkable teachings of Scripture: that we Christians should “throw a party” when terrible things happen to us.
3. This view of adversity being a “blessing” is really only possible to the Christian.
a. A worldly person regards such ideas as crazy.
b. Many people would see troubles as our inevitable fate.
c. Atheists have no explanation for the caprice of calamity. Only the Christian has the alchemy by which our sorrows may be turned into joy.
B. THIS DOESN’T MEAN IT FEELS GOOD
1. We rejoice in trials, not because they’re pleasurable, but because God makes them beneficial for us.
2. Now this doesn’t mean we’re to be glad when the devil tempts us. We’re told to pray, "Lead us not into temptation."
3. The temptation James speaks of here (Gr. peripesate) implies temptations which are external, for the same word is used of the man who fell among thieves (Lk. 10:30).
4. HUMOR: The Math Teacher
a. A Math teacher was having trouble teaching arithmetic to one little boy in her class, so she decided to use an illustration.
b. "If you reached in your right pocket and found one dollar, and you reached in your left pocket and found $5, what would you have?"
c. "Somebody else's pants."
5. James is trying to teach us to count it all joy.
II. WHY CHRISTIANS ARE ESPECIALLY DESTINED FOR TRIALS
Three reasons trials are necessary:
A. HEAVEN IS FOR THE PURIFIED
1. James implies troubles and afflictions are the lot of even the best Christians. Those who expect to receive the greatest joys later may expect to now experience a greater number of trials.
2. The character that has never been tried may be innocent, but it’s lacking in the strength and vigor that comes from repeated testing.
3. Trials and troubles are the blast furnace that God uses to separate the dross from the silver. That’s why “Judgment must begin at the house of God.” “God will have a tried & tested people.”
B. SATAN WILL ATTEMPT TO STOP YOU
1. The devil attempts, by sufferings and disasters, to push all people into discouragement, to rob them of their confidence in God, or get them to give up their devotion/ duty to God.
2. But Remember: God turns the devil’s curses into His blessings, actually making them work for our good!
C. ARE ALLOWED FOR OUR GROWTH (3X)
1. TRIALS PROMOTE SELF-KNOWLEDGE. The person who stands on the deck of a sinking ship will learn, if he did not know it before, whether he is a hero or a coward. Affliction shows us "all that is in our heart." Frequently defects of our character surface.