Summary: Rejoice in temptations
January 15, 2012
The book of James was written to a church that looked like it was falling apart. There was a great division between the rich and the poor, and the rich members were treated well while the poor weren’t. James reminds them that real faith is evidenced by good works.
You can’t say you love someone and then refuse to meet his basic needs. Faith, by nature, works.
You can’t tear each other down with your tongues and then praise God with the same tongue—it’s inconsistent, and it will never do.
They were at war with each other because they refused to submit in humility. They disobeyed God, trusted in their riches, and made their own plans. They were the centers of their own universes, and James harshly rebukes them.
But James was a man of hope, and he knew these people and this church weren’t beyond saving. He understood and preached to them that the fruit seems delayed but it’s precious. The true believers work and wait for the latter rain without holding grudges or tearing each other down. They know that God is in full control, and so they just hope in Him…waiting like a farmer waits to see his fruit.
I can’t think of a better book for our church than this one. We’re a church with troubles, but we’ve got hope. We’ve got worldliness and superstition and human inventions, but we’ve also got genuine love and patience. I think most of us who remain have a desire to see more of God’s glory and to have a better understanding of His love.
We’re going to start a brief study through this powerful little book tonight, and I hope we’re encouraged by it to wait for the precious fruit.
Let’s start in chapter one as we see that,
God commands us to accept trials in joy (:1-4)
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. 2My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
He’s going to get more specific about their temptations further in the letter, but for now “divers temptations” will do. He says, don’t look at all these trials as though they’re bad—they’re for your good.
Your faith is being put to the test, but that’s how you get the ability to wait. Think about this: let’s say I challenge you to a one mile race and you accept. You have three weeks to get ready; are you going to sit around for three weeks conserving energy or are you going to push yourself hard every day so you can build up your strength?
Our faith is built up in the same way. Do we get winded and tired and sore? Sure, but that’s natural. If patience has her perfect work, we’ll “be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
Now think about this in connection to Philippians 1:6—he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
Can you think of anything better than that? Then count it all joy when you fall into all kinds of temptations.
Some people say, “Well that’s too hard to do.”
God commands us to seek wisdom from Him alone (:5-18)
5If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Here’s a simple principle: what God requires He also provides.
It’s unnatural to be joyous over trials, but God gives us wisdom to see past the hardship. He gives us faith to trust His promise that all things work together for our good according to His glory.
And when His children come seeking wisdom He gives it to us because He wants to, and He doesn’t look down on us for needing it.
6But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
In my mind this just reinforces the fact that what God requires He provides. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2), so when we ask God for wisdom “in faith” we’re asking knowing that Jesus is our intercessor and that whatever we ask in His name shall be given (John 14:13).
But if a man has no faith, then he has nothing—he can’t receive anything of the Lord.