Summary: As we face various trials in life we must learn to respond appropriately to the work God is doing in us: Embrace your trials and ask for God's help.
James 1:1-8 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
Intro: Kidshealth.org tells parents a little about growing pains. “Your 8-year-old son wakes up crying in the night complaining that his legs are throbbing. You rub them and soothe him as much as you can, but you're uncertain about whether to give him any medication or take him to the doctor.
Sound familiar? Your child is probably experiencing growing pains, a normal occurrence in about 25% to 40% of children. They generally strike during two periods: in early childhood among 3- to 5-year-olds and, later, in 8- to 12-year-olds. No firm evidence shows that the growth of bones causes pain. The most likely causes are the aches and discomforts resulting from the jumping, climbing, and running that active kids do during the day, affecting muscles, rather than joints or bones. The pains can occur after a child has had a particularly athletic day.
-Well, adults have growing pains too! You could be well into your retirement and still have growing pains. Of course I’m talking about your spiritual development and the tests and trials you face. As we begin the book of James, we see that these growing pains are necessary to our spiritual development. Trials and temptations are not fun, and we probably wouldn’t sign up for them, but there is a right way to respond to them, as James 1 points out. Here is the main thought of the message:
Prop: As we face various trials in life we must learn to respond appropriately to the work God is doing in us.
Interr: What kind of response does God desire when we face trials?
TS: Let’s look at a couple of thoughts to see how we should respond to difficult times.
I. Joyfully Embrace the Trials of Life
-A positive attitude of joy helps us face the trials we are going through. The language here indicates that the readers are going through some serious opposition to their faith in Jesus. I think we can apply these principles to the hard knocks of life, but we should remember that these Jewish believers to whom James is writing were facing harsh threats for their belief in and obedience to Jesus. James tells them to view these trials as opportunities for God to work His grace deeper into their lives.
1. Trials can help develop perseverance
-James describes the trials as many kinds of trials - lit. multi-colored. His readers had likely been forced to flee Jerusalem because of the persecution of Christians that began around the time that Stephen was killed. It is possible that James knew many of the people to whom he was writing, having been their leader or pastor in Jerusalem. They had scattered all over the Mediterranean world and now faced opposition from Jews who rejected Jesus, and perhaps from Gentiles and Roman leaders.
-Does it seem strange to you that you don’t find any prayers or pleas to make the persecution stop. Instead, God was using it to help them grow. The testing of their face was producing perseverance in their hearts and minds, and that was something to be glad about!
2. Perseverance is one of the keys to growth and maturity
-Perseverance is patient endurance. However, we are compelled to ask the question, “What are we waiting for?” Patience implies anticipation. Patient endurance may sound passive, where you dully put up with your trials, but to what end? For how long? Until our trial is over? As long as we live this life, our trials will not be over. What are we waiting for? What is the payoff?
-Well, I’m sure that many of you know the answer. We are waiting for the return of Jesus. Before He left He said, “I’ll be back.” “Can’t tell you when, but I can give you everything you need to grow strong in your faith and share it with others.” And if my life on this earth ends before Jesus comes back, then I want to be able to kneel before Him without shame. If we stay connected with Him and fully embrace the trials that help make our faith strong, then we will not be ashamed when we see Jesus.