Summary: A sermon on James and how God "gives the test first then gives the lesson."
I want to speak to you today about learning to endure. Now this is sort of a re-entry message. And we have learned to endure some things. And I don’t want to act like we endure so much because, really, I want to say with the apostle Paul, “Our light affliction is but for a moment.” There are many of you who have endured and are enduring right now more than I endured in this surgery and this recovery. I’ve learned some things, and I want to delineate those from God’s word.
And I want you to find the Book of James, if you will, and I want you to find the first chapter in that book. And we’re going to think today about what God teaches in that wonderful book about learning to endure.
I’m going to tell you something about God. He gives the test first and then gives the lesson. And many of you are going through a test or a trial.
Look here in James chapter 1. Let’s begin in verse 2: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations [that is, just simply different kinds of 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. If 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.”
Now look up here and I want to ask you a question. How many of you this morning want strength? How many of you want victory? How many of you want prosperity? How many of you want contentment? All of us do. But let me ask you another question. How many of you want tribulation? Most of us don’t. But it is tribulation that works patience, which literally means, endurance. And without patience, without endurance, you’re not going to have these other things, because tribulation works endurance. Now the word patience in our King James Bible here doesn’t mean the ability to thread a needle. The Greek word hupomone means to abide under. God lays certain burdens on us, and we must abide under those burdens or we’re not going to have anything else. Now, folks, let me tell you something. We need to work by faith, and we need to praise God by faith, but we need to wait by faith.
Years ago, when the earth’s crust was first hardening, I was playing football (Laughter). And you know, when I got out there on that football field, for the first time in my life I had the ball and there was no one between myself and the goal. Now you just have to understand what a thrill that was. The first time ever I had the ball, I had broken loose, and there was the goal line. This was my big day. And I was running as hard as I could, but I was running out of steam also. And I saw the goal line, and I said, well, one thing for certain. That guy behind me is not going to catch me before I score. And I dived over the goal line, had it made. But do you know what? It wasn’t the goal line. It was the five-yard line (Laughter). How humiliating that I never reached the goal because I quit too soon. Some of us can quit too soon. We don’t learn to endure.
Now if you don’t learn to endure, you’re not going to learn much of anything. You’re not going to learn to play the piano if you don’t learn to endure and do the scales. You’re not going to learn Greek if you don’t endure and do the Greek verbs. You’re not going to lose weight unless you learn to endure. You’re not going to build character unless you endure.
Now in the passage that we have here, the word for temptation in verse 2 literally means trials or temptations, trials or testing. Look, if you will, in verse 2: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations.” Well, what does he mention, what does it mean there by diverse temptations? Should we say, “Praise God, I’m being tempted to sin?” No, the word may be used as a temptation to sin, or that same word is used in the Bible as a testing, a trial. Now let’s look at those. You see, we get the test from God. We get the temptations from the devil. Don’t get the idea that God is tempting you to sin. In James chapter 1, verse 12 (wrong verse: should be verse 13): “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted with sin, neither tempteth he any man.” God will not tempt you to sin. The devil will, but God will not. You know, if the devil, if God tempted you to sin, you’d have a perfect excuse. Who can resist God? He’s the master tempter. No, only the devil will tempt you to sin. God will test you. The devil will tempt you to cause you to stumble. God will test you to cause you to stand. And what we’re talking about this morning is endurance under trials, under testings, that God gives to us so we can grow. And notice he doesn’t say not if you’re tempted, but when you’re tempted. Look in verse 2: “My brethren, count it all joy when, when ye fall into diverse temptations.”