Last Sunday evening we talked about the trials and temptations that we all go through on our journey through life. What is the worst trial that you face right now? What is the worst temptation, the temptation that just swarms in upon you and overcomes you and leads you into sin?
Is there an escape? Is there a way to overcome that trial or temptation? Last week we talked about facing it all with the spirit of joy because God is making us stronger and more like Christ. But is there a way that can assure victory and deliverance? This is the subject of tonight’s passage in James 1: 5-12. Let’s get right into the passage.
READ verses 5-8. How can a believer conquer these trials and temptations? First, you must ask God for wisdom. Wisdom means a lot more than just knowledge. Knowledge is the grasping of facts, and most people in the world have heads full of facts. People with heads full of knowledge are very common, but when coping with the trials and temptations of life, something more than a head full of facts is needed. Wisdom is needed.
What is wisdom? What does the Bible mean by wisdom? Wisdom is not having a head full of facts. It’s not only seeing and knowing all about life. Wisdom is seeing and knowing what to do with the truth. Wisdom grasps the truths of life. Wisdom not only grasps the facts, it knows what to do with them, and it does it. Now, if we lack that kind of wisdom, then there is one sure way to get the wisdom.
READ verse 5 again. This verse says just ask God for the wisdom. Look at the wonderful promises made to us when we ask God for wisdom. God will give us wisdom. God will give us a generous amount, and abundance of wisdom. God will not reproach or rebuke us for not knowing how to handle the trial. The idea is that God will not even question us for lacking wisdom and for not knowing what to do.
God is our heavenly Father and He loves us and wants to meet our every need. So, God will hear our request—our cry. He will give us the wisdom to conquer the trails and temptations of life. Do you know how many trials a pastor has to face almost daily and how I must continually ask God for wisdom to help mold it all together to keep the peace and harmony within the church family and still be able to glorify Him.
But we have a responsibility. We must do something, and whether or not God hears us depends upon our doing this one thing. If we do it, God hears us and gives us wisdom to conquer the trials. If we don’t do it, God can’t hear us. What is it that we must do? When we ask God to give us wisdom, we must believe and not doubt.
When we pray, for instance, and cry out to God, we can’t doubt; that is, we can’t ask and then wonder if God really exists, or if He is going to hear, or if God can really do what we ask, or if we really know God well enough for Him to hear us. We can’t wonder if the request is the will of God.
Any doubting like that can’t be heard by God. God can’t answer the prayer of a doubting person. If He did, He would be rewarding those who doubt Him. God can’t hear and answer a person who wavers in his faith. We must believe God is, that He exists and that HE does love and care for us and that He will hear and answer us when we ask for wisdom to face the trials of life.
But we have to note what James says about the person who does not believe.
First, the person is just like a wave of the sea driven by the wind and tossed to and fro. Second, the person shall not receive anything of the Lord. Why? Because a person who wavers back and forth doesn’t know the value of God’s gifts.
If God gave the wisdom for a person to conquer the trials and temptations of life, the person might or might not use it or might use it irregularly. He wouldn’t value or use the wisdom or any other gift from God. So, the person who doesn’t believe won’t receive anything from God.
Third, the person who doesn’t believe is a double-minded person, and he is unstable in all he does. He’s like a person with two minds; he’s not sure; he’s uncertain; he feels yes and then he feels no. He believes, then he disbelieves; he acts, then he distrusts and backs up. He’s unstable in his prayer and life with God.
That’s the very reason so many of us receive so little from God. We either don’t ask or else when we ask, we waver in believing that God will hear and answer us. Do you even realize that you might do that more than you think? PRAY IN FAITH
READ verses 9-11. So, James is telling us that a person must rejoice in his status in life. It doesn’t matter whether a person is poor or rich, healthy or unhealthy, crippled or sound, he is to rejoice in the Lord.
James first mentions the believer who is in humble circumstances. He is to rejoice in the Lord. That means that he rejoices in Christ despite the circumstances—no matter how terrible. The believer in humble circumstances is to have a spirit that is as strong as the spirit of a king and prince—all as a testimony to Christ and His power to change lives.
Does any of this describe you? This is too often the case with the humble of the world. Too often the poor and unhealthy:
- allow their circumstances to dull, numb, or destroy their spirit and joy in life.
- become bitter against those who have more and seek to take some of what they have.
- develop a sense of inferiority and inadequacy and take on a withdrawn or slavish type of behavior.
Every humble person on the face of the earth should struggle to improve his circumstances in life—even to the point that he can help others. But no person is to allow circumstances—no matter how terrible—to destroy his joy or make him bitter and inferior or withdrawn and slavish.
Then, on the other side, the believer of rich or high circumstances in life is to rejoice in his low position. What does that mean?
- A rich or high person is not accepted by God because of who he is or what he has. His rich and high status means absolutely nothing to God. Even if he were the ruler and owner of the whole earth it would mean nothing to God. The rich and high have to approach God bare—as nothing and as having nothing. This is the only way God accepts any person. All people—no matter their status in life—stand before God as equals.
-Second, a rich and high person must use all that he has and is—all his riches and high influence—to help meet the desperate needs of the starving. Note what the passage says: the rich and high must remember a critical fact: READ verses 10-11.
Now let’s finish this portion of the passage. READ v. 12. James says the believer must remember the reward for persevering. He will be blessed and will receive a crown of life. Note exactly what is said here:
- The person who perseveres under trial shall be “blessed”. This refers to this life, to the here and now. The word blessed means inward and spiritual joy and satisfaction—an inner assurance and confidence that carries one through all the trials and temptations of life no matter the pain, sorrow, loss, or grief. THAT PERSON IS SECURE IN THIS LIFE. He knows that God is looking after and caring for him and is going to deliver him from all the corruption and evil of this life including death, and give him life eternal.
But it goes farther that life here and now. The person shall also receive the crown of life in the next world. What is the crown of life? In the Greek this is what is called “the genitive of apposition.” That is, life itself is the crown.
The believer who endures the trials of life shall be crowned with life itself, eternal life. The eternal life that will be given the believer will shine more brightly than all the earthly crowns that have ever been worn by the rulers of this world.
Just imagine the actual moment when Christ will crown us with the crown of life. Being crowned with the crown of life:
• Will fill us with unbroken joy and rejoicing.
• Will bestow on us honor and dignity.
• Will give us a deep and perfect sense of victory and triumph.
• Will conform us to the image of eternal royalty.
Listen to what Scripture says about this:
Philippians 3: 20-21 – “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. 21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.”
Now that’s a crown I want to wear.
1 Peter 4:12-13 – “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.”
1 John 2:25 – “And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us.”
So, we have to endure to the end in order to be saved and to inherit the crown of life.
ARE YOU A WEAKLING CHRISTIAN?
The weakling caves in to the trials of life. So, he doesn’t experience the sense of being blessed. He doesn’t have the confidence and assurance of God’s presence and God’s care and doesn’t really even have the confidence of eternity. He’s not sure that he’ll receive the crown of life. And if we are a weakling Christian, Scripture says we won’t receive it.
1 Corinthians 15:58 –“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
Nothing you do for the Lord is useless. No matter how big a flop you might think your efforts are, nothing you do for the Lord is useless.
Galatians 6:9 – “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
READ James 1:12 again.
So, I guess by now you have discovered that the person who loves the Lord is the person who perseveres. He’s the person who is faithful to the Lord. He follows and obeys the Lord, doing all that the Lord commands. He follows Christ, obeying His commandments and enduring all the trial and temptations of this life.
And that’s how a strong Christian can face the trials and temptations of this life with joy. He or she knows that all of this, all of us, are only temporary while we await our promised land of heaven and receiving our crown of eternal life.
HOW CAN WE NOT HAVE JOY IN THAT?