Summary: Through our study of this verse, we’re going to see, as James’ readers saw, where spiritual labor, obedience, maturity of faith, and endurance leads. It leads to blessings from God.
How To Receive Blessings in the Midst of Trials
Preached by Pastor Tony Miano
Pico Canyon Community Church
December 3, 2000
Introduction: To this point, James has given us a very detailed formula for enduring the trials of life. He has taught us about what attitudes we should have in the midst of our trials. He has taught us what we can expect by way of spiritual growth if we have the right attitudes in the midst of trials. He has taught us what we should ask for in our prayers, namely wisdom, whenever we face trials. He has shown us how humility, a humble attitude, can help us endure the trials associated with financial instability and financial security—two things very common to his readers and equally common to believers today.
But where does this all lead? What’s the end result of our spiritual labors, our obedience to godly teaching, and our maturing and enduring faith? James’ readers had to be asking these questions and probably others. After all, many of his readers were what we would call today, “baby Christians,” “new believers.” They were persecuted, confused, in many ways alone, and, at times, probably doubted—considering their circumstances—the practicality of their faith in Christ.
There may be one or more of you here this morning that find yourselves, from time to time, asking similar questions. That’s all right. It’s all right to ask questions. God’s Word tells us that we should work out—not work for—(work out) our salvation with fear and trembling.
In other words, with a healthy fear and reverent awe toward God, we should recognize the incredible grace God has given us through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ, and, without doubt, but amazement, ask God, “How could you do this for a sinner like me?”
This morning we’re going to look at verse 12 of chapter one, in James’ letter to the believing Jews scattered abroad. Through our study of this verse, we’re going to see, as James’ readers saw, where spiritual labor, obedience, maturity of faith, and endurance leads. It leads to blessings from God.
Before we continue, it is so important that we understand that the things James has called his readers to do was not so that they could earn their way to heaven, earn their salvation. We need to keep the right perspective and make sure that we understand Scripture in its proper context. James is not setting up a works theology. We will see this fact stand out even more clearly as we study chapter two of James’ letter.
We must never lose sight of the fact that James is writing to people who already believe. They are already saved. They are already born again, having received by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, the gift of eternal life made possible through nothing other than the finished work of Christ on the cross.
In verse twelve, James is not giving a formula for salvation. He is giving a formula for how we can experience the blessings of God in the midst of our trials.
There are three very important components, or steps, to the formula James has given us in verse twelve. The first step is to stand firm through the testing of your faith. The second step is to see the future life. And the third step is to show your love for Christ.
Blessed is a man . . . (1:12a)
We’re going to take a closer look at each of these important components. But James begins verse twelve by giving the end result of the formula—“blessed is a man.” It’s just like a model plane. You look at the box and the first thing you see is the finished product, the end result—a beautifully constructed, perfectly airbrushed model airplane. You know there are instructions inside, certain steps that must be followed in order to reach the finished product pictured on the box. James starts the verse by telling his readers, “This is what you will have if you follow the instructions I’m about to give you.”
This type of sentence structure was very common in Jewish writing, which would seem appropriate considering James’ audience. We see the same structure of writing in both the Old and New Testaments. Psalm 1:1 is an example. “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.” And in Proverbs 8:32 we read, “Now therefore, O sons, listen to me, for blessed are they who keep my ways.” In Job 5:17, the word “happy” is used instead of “blessed.” The verse reads, “Behold, how happy is the man whom God approves, so do not despise the discipline of the almighty.”
Jesus used a similar structure in the beatitudes, in Matthew five. Each of the beatitudes, beginning in verse three, starts with the words, “blessed are.” In fact, turn to Matthew five and lets read the beatitudes, if, for no other reason, than to be encouraged by the Lord’s words.