Summary: Every Christian needs to understand what to do in times of testing.
of James was written by the brother of our Lord as a circular letter. That is, it was a letter intended to be copied and passed among the churches. Specifically, James was addressing “the twelve tribes scattered among the nations.” Most scholars believe this to be a reference to the believers who had fled Jerusalem as a result of the persecution of the church that had broken out in connection with the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1). We should not find it suprising, therefore, that James begins this letter by speaking of how the Christian is to face times of testing.
The book of James is filled with many very practical lessons for the people of God. The topic he addresses is one to which every Christian can relate. James speaks to how we, as believers, can pass victoriously through times of testing.
James shares with us five truths about testing that can not only encourage us, but enable us to let God use difficult times to make us better, instead of bitter.
1. The Reality Of Testing – v. 2
“whenever you face trials of many kinds”
James does not say, “if you face trials,” but “whenever you face trials.” In other words, times of trial are inevitable in this life.
Notice how James speaks of the fact that trials come oin various forms. He speaks of “trials of many kinds.” Trials in life may differ in size or intensity. Trials might come in the form of a temptation to sin, or the facing of persecution for our faith, or getting a flat tire on the way to work, or losing a loved one.
The point is simple. In life, we are going to face tests of various size, kind, and intensity. It is a part of life. It doesn’t matter who we are, where we are, or when we live, the fact is that life in this world is one that is filled with times of testing.
The following was published in a newspaper editorial: “The world is too big for us. Too much going on, too many crimes, too much violence and excitement. Try as you will, you get behind in the race, in spite of yourself. It’s an incessant strain to keep pace . . . and still, you lose ground.
Science empties discoveries on you so fact that you stager beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world is news seen so rapidly you’re out of breath trying to keep pace with who’s in and who’s out. Everything is high pressure. Human nature can’t endure much more.”
By the way, that editorial appeared in the Boston Globe on November 13th, 1857.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (NLT)
No person, no generation, is exempt. The Christian is not exempt any more than is the person who is not a Christian. The difference between the believer and the non-believer isn’t found in whether or not they face trials in life, but in HOW they face trials in life.
2. The Response To Testing – v. 2
When James tells us to “consider it pure joy,” he is letting us know that this is a choice we can make. When going through a time of trial, I can either face it with an attitude of faith or an attitude of fear. An attitude of fear causes us to run away. God doesn’t want us to run from trials. He wants us to face them, knowing that He has can be trusted to see us through them.
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again--rejoice! Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” – Philippians 4:4, 6 (NLT)
“No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)
James tells us the same thing that Paul tells us. When facing times of trial, we need to choose to trust rather than tremble. We need to make the “choice to rejoice.” This isn’t always an easy choice to make when facing trials, but it is the right choice to make.
We need to understand that choice, not chance, determines our destiny.The way we choose to respond to test and trials in life will determine the quality of our lives. None of us is responsible for all the things that happen to us, but we are responsible for the how we face them. As Christians who have hope in Christ, we need to see times of testing as opportunities to trust God and prove Him to be faithful to His Word.