Summary: The Holy Spirit commands us through James to choose to consider our trials to be blessings. How can we do that?
Count Your Trials to Be Blessings
Text: My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (Jam 1:2-4)
Text idea: James writes to the 12 tribes scattered abroad about responding to trials in a godly manner.
Sermon idea: The Spirit is still teaching us today through this passage that we must consider our trials to be fruit-producing blessings.
Interrogative: How should I respond to trials?
Transition: Our response to trials can and should be focused on the fact that God is preparing us for something important.
Painful circumstances are part of the road of life. No one is exempt from tragic losses. Death is no respecter of persons. Loved ones – snatched away suddenly leaving those who are left here lonely…hurting. You might have health one day and the next…health – suddenly gone. Wealth, and then one day wealth – suddenly gone. Tragedy inevitably comes…often without warning.
Painful circumstances are sometimes the result of sin. Sinners often suffer the natural consequences of their sin. AIDS, unplanned pregnancy, poverty (vices are expensive), the anguish of bitterness as parents sit in nursing homes because they taught their children by example to be selfish…and the list goes on. These are not intended to try faith, for sinners have none. Rather, their best result is to lead a sinner to saving faith. All trials are painful experiences but not all painful experiences are the trying of faith.
But what about good people? Sure, we understand that sinners suffer for their sins. But shouldn’t good people be exempt from painful experiences? What about all those saints who are in poverty or sickness? What about the godly people who are mocked and persecuted for their faith? Or those parents who try their hardest to raise their child to fear God and then that child comes home and informs their loving mother and father that they don’t believe in their God. “Jesus is imaginary! You taught me a bunch of lies. If your religion comforts you, I’m glad. I just can’t be that gullible. And I need to tell you something else. I’m gay.”
There once was a man who was perfect. He never lied, stole, hated, lusted, dishonored His mother or father…He was perfect. You might expect that he would be born into wealth. He was not. He was born into poverty. You might expect that man to have had no enemies…but He did. He had many. Things even got so bad that his friends were afraid to admit that they were his friends. He faced trouble. Loneliness; beatings from people whom he had done no wrong; crowds cried out for his death; he was spit upon; despised and rejected by his fellow man. That man was Jesus. The first and the last perfect man. HE experienced heartache. HE is our example.
In light of that fact we should “think it not strange” when painful things happen to us – we should expect it. With this knowledge we will beware of the fact that trials are inevitable.
Transition: The question is how should you respond to trials.
I. Choose to Face Your Trials With the Right Focus
a. The Holy Spirit admonishes us by the words of the apostle James to “count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations”. If that sounds strange to you perhaps you need a good definition of joy. How can you “count it all joy” without a definition of joy? Joy IS an emotion of happy contentment BUT that emotion is an emotion based on volition. Joy is the product of a proper focus. You can count your trials to be blessings!
b. This proper focus is not an ignorant focus. It is not the bury your head in the sand approach. The Biblical focus that produces joy is an informed focus.
i. Jesus said: “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.” (Luk 6:22-23)
ii. And Peter told us: Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (1Pe 4:12-13)
iii. The natural tendency is to look at your trial through a magnifying glass. Through that focus you can see the trial in all the intricacies of its ugliness. But let me encourage you to set aside the magnifying glass and take up a telescope. You can count your trials to be blessings as you look forward to the blessing coming to you through your trial.