Summary: 2nd in sermon series on James dealing with the benefit of enduring trials.
“The Benefit of Endurance”
Last week we began our journey through James. The letter was written to Jewish Christians who he warmly addressed as “brothers” multiple times. They had been scattered throughout the Roman empire and were suffering persecution both from their own kind and from the pagan world in which they lived. James, the half/brother of Jesus wrote this letter of encouragement and instruction. He identified himself as James the bondservant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
He did not pull the leader of the church in Jerusalem of brother of Jesus card. He gloried in the role of bondservant to Jesus.
After a brief greeting, he launched his letter intended to validate genuine faith. He issued over 50 “life instructions (LI)” supported by numerous “divine insights DI)”.
Purpose and Theme
Behavior of Belief
Ten Tests True Trust (Faith)
Faith that Works
The Practice of Righteousness
Faith that is real
Faith in Action
James serves as a mirror to inspect the health of our faith. As we pause in front of this mirror it either confirms or corrects our faith. Each week we will stand in front of the mirror of God’s word to evaluate our responses to life circumstances and determine whether they indicate trust in God or not. James centers on the behavior that suggests spiritual maturity. Not behavior driven by a desire to secure salvation but a Spirit-stirred desire to express a salvation already received by faith apart from personal behavior or works. The first life challenge to our trust in God is trials. James addresses faith’s response to trials in verse 2-18.
I. Faith’s response to trials 1:2-18
A. Life Instruction 1 – Consider it all joy when encountering trials
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
The term trials can refer to something that tests and stretches us.
The term can also refer to something that tempts us solicits us.
These tests come in all manner of shapes and forms. Only context determines which kind of test is in view. Here it deals with the growth producing kind of tests. Later James will address the sin tempting tests.God allows these encounters with difficulties to: Prove us -- is our faith genuine? Probe us -- is our faith active? Purge us -- what stands in the way of our growth?
James instruction applies WHENEVER we encounter trials. Difficulties in life are inevitable.
James did not write “if”, but “when”. James refers to various circumstances that come upon us.
Jesus did not ever promise an easy journey, but He did promise a safe landing.
The term “encounter” means to fall into, be surrounded by, be encompassed by, be enveloped by. These tests are not necessarily due to anything we did or didn’t do. The flat tire, the breakdown, the sudden sickness, the extra bill, the broken appliance, the unpleasant personal encounter…
No one escapes difficult times. Anyone who promises otherwise is selling something. This instruction applies to whatever kind of trial comes and whenever it comes. So, what are we to do when a trial blindsides us out of nowhere? James calls for what seems to be an impossible or at least irrational response. It is the response of one who fully trusts their well-being into God’s hands.
“count it all joy”
He instructed them to consider this encounter with life’s difficulty as a good thing. Treat any and every encounter with trials as an occasion for joy. The term “count” means to consider, reckon, count to be a reality, deem to be true, regard. Calculate the benefits of trials to be an occasion to rejoice.
I love some of the suggestions offered translators into various languages.
“You should rejoice greatly”
“Your stomachs should feel very warm”
“Your hearts should dance”
“Your inner most being should ring”
“Consider yourselves fortunate”
“Consider it a great benefit when…”
It seems irrational to consider a trial an occasion for joy. Usually we rejoice COMING OUT of the trial. James instructs to also rejoice GOING IN. Counting it all joy is not the trite response of shallow superficiality but the honest assessment of the trusting soul. (Sweeting)
Such a response requires faith. Faith is always based on truth or Biblical reality. Therefore, James provided the first perspective adjuster or divine insight enabling joy in trials.
Divine Insight #1 – Knowing testing produces endurance
Both Paul and Peter urge the same perspective. (Rom 5:3-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7)
“knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
James provided the insight necessary to follow the instruction. The “knowing” enables rejoicing. We may think we have strong faith to deal with life’s trials but how we respond when those trials hit clearly reveals the actual level of trust.