Summary: As Christians today, we have to endure testing. But God doesn’t only call us to endure it, He calls us to have joy in it. He calls us to have joy in it because there is a purpose behind it.
1. Testing produces patience (3)
2. Testing produces perfection (4)
3. Testing wants wisdom (5)
4. Testing finds faith (6-8)
It’s back to school time, isn’t it? Teachers are excited. Parents are excited. Kids are excited. You can just feel the excitement in the air, can’t you? Well, maybe not. Kids, I hope you have a better attitude about going back to school that I used to. I used to dread going back to school. I used to dread it because I wasn’t a very good student. My teachers used to throw around words like “potential” and “effort”. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do the work. It was just that most of the time I wouldn’t. Especially in high school. The thing about high school is, a lot of times you can get away with not doing the homework. You can get away with not doing the daily reading and studying. You can get away with it sometimes for weeks at a time. But then what happens? Then comes the test. Teachers always have to throw in those exams. Why do they do that? To weed out people like me who were just trying to get by on personality. In school, test time is the moment of truth. It’s the time where students prove what they’ve learned. It’s the time where the rubber meets the road—the time where they “put up or shut up.” That’s why I didn’t like tests in high school. I didn’t like them because I wasn’t prepared for them. But in college, it was a different story. I don’t know what it was—maybe maturity, maybe paying for it on my own, maybe doing it at night with a wife and kids. I don’t know, but in college, my attitude towards tests changed. Tests became a good thing. They were a way for me to prove my learning. Tests and quizzes became a way to prepare me for the big finals to come. They were a part of learning and growing. My attitude toward tests changed. It changed because I saw what tests were really all about. I saw that they were a way for me to learn and grow. Seeing them that way made me want to prepare well for them. And preparing well made me pass them successfully. This morning we’re going to be looking at verses 2-8. These verses are the first part of James’ introduction which runs all the way through verse 18. We’ll be looking at the rest of the introduction over the next couple of weeks. In his introduction, James tells us that his letter is going to be about taking tests. Taking the kind of tests that show whether our faith is real or not. In the first part of his introduction… the part we’re looking at this morning… he explains why we’re tested. He tells us the purpose for the tests we have to go through. The experts say that when you develop teaching curriculum, you write the test questions before you write lesson plans. That’s kind of like how God does it. God builds tests into every part of our lives. Faithfully passing those tests is what God wants of us. Failing those tests is Satan’s desire for us. By God’s grace, He gives us everything we need to pass the tests He places before us. We just have to choose whether we’re going to listen to Him, or whether we’re going to listen to Satan’s lies. This morning, I want each of us to see God’s tests for what they really are—an opportunity for joy. And when we see their real joyful purposes, I want each of us to rejoice in passing the tests God has in store for us. In order to do that, we’re going to look at the four joyful purposes for testing. But before we get into those four purposes, we have to clear up some language issues in the introduction as a whole. Over the next few weeks, you will see that the word “tempted” or “temptation” is used six times in James’ introduction. If you are one to write in your Bibles, it might be a good idea to circle these. It’s used once here in verse 2. Once in verse 12. Four times in verse 13. And it’s used once in verse 14. Now, in today’s English, the word tempted or temptation carries a very negative meaning. But the original word carries no such meaning. The original word carries the meaning of something being put to the test. It carries the meaning of an examination. We can even go so far as to say it can mean trials. So, in verse 2, when James writes “My brethren count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations.” What he is telling us is to take joy in the fact that your faith is going to be examined. Take joy in the fact that God cares enough about you that He is going to test your faith. He’s going to test your faith so you can know that it is really real. He’s telling us to take joy in the pop quizzes of life. He’s telling us to rejoice in passing the tests God has in store for us. Now back to our purposes. The first joyful purpose for testing is that testing produces patience. Look at verse 3: