Summary: This sermon explores the fruit of struggling with trials.
The Sweet Fruit of Bitter Times
Krispy Kreme donuts are all the rage right now. Many of us have tasted them. Some people will line up and wait for hours to purchase these sweet delights. Let me tell you about the process that leads to a Krispy Kreme donut.
First the little balls of dough are shot through with a piercing blast of air to create a hole. Then they go into the proof box where they ride up and down an elevator in an atmosphere of heat and humidity. This causes the dough to rise. After this, they are dropped into hot oil and boiled thoroughly. After surviving this ordeal, the donuts pass through a cascading waterfall of icing.
Does anyone here today feel like a Krispy Kreme? Do you feel like you have been blasted with air? Do you feel like you have been boiled in oil? Well, remember that these experiences precede the sweet delight that follows. None of us look forward to trials. None of us love hardship. But without them, we will never enjoy the sweet fruit of maturity. A Billy Graham said, “Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys.”
Today, as we begin our study of James, we are going to look at the sweet fruit of bitter times.
James introduces his letter.
A. James, the author.
1. He refers to himself as a servant of God and of the
Lord Jesus Christ.
2. His identity is almost surely James, the half brother
a. He was a leader in the early church of
Jerusalem (Acts 15, 27).
b. He was the brother of Jesus (Mk. 6:3).
c. He was an eyewitness of the resurrection (1
B. His readers.
1. He refers to them as the “twelve tribes scattered
among the nations.”
a. Christian churches of a predominantly Jewish
b. Christians who were scattered (diaspora)
among Gentile nations.
C. His letter.
1. It is much like OT wisdom literature. It deals with a
variety of subjects which describe how to live an
3. It has much in common with the Sermon on the
Mount, i.e. oaths, the tongue, peacemakers.
I. A Proper Attitude Toward Trials (v. 2).
A. What are trials?
1. The term is used to speak of afflictions and
adversities that we encounter in life.
2. These trials are of various kinds. It could be illness, financial reverses, problems at work, persecution for
our faith, etc. They come in all shapes and sizes.
B. Our attitude toward trials.
1. Consider it pure joy. Not part joy and part something
else, but pure joy.
2. It seems quite unnatural for our attitude toward trials
to be pure joy.
3. However, this is a categorical biblical command. We
are commanded to have an attitude of joy in trials.
APP: We must be careful to understand what James is calling for here. He is not suggesting some kind of masochistic happiness in the hurts and losses of life. He is not saying that we are to enjoy being sick, losing a loved one, getting laid off from our job, being persecuted, etc. This is not some weird kind of denial that life often hurts. Some of us here today are hurting. We are suffering. James does not suggest that we manufacture some kind of other-worldly, phony sense of happiness about our troubles. So, what is he suggesting?
There is a reason to be joyful in the midst of trials. It is not being happy about the trouble. It is finding joy in what the trouble produces. It is enjoying the sweet fruit produced only by bitter times.
II. The Powerful Outcome of Trials (vv. 3-4)
A. Consider it all joy…because you know…
1. We know that the testing of our faith produces
a. Testing of your faith. Trials test faith.
1) Not a test to find if faith is there.
2) A test to strengthen faith (1 Pet. 1:7).
ILL: In the LXX, this word is used to describe the process of refining silver. It is put into the flames to burn off the impurities and strengthen the quality of the silver. God does not test us to destroy us but to purify and strengthen us.
b. Testing leads to perseverance. The Gk. term
hupomone means to abide under. It refers to
the ability to bear up under a burden. It is the
staying power of the Christian life.
ILL: I love this little parable of endurance. It seems that an old dog fell into a farmers well. After considering the situation, the farmer decided that neither the dog nor the well were worth saving. So, he decided to bury the old dog and put him out of his misery. When the farmer began shoveling, the dog was hysterical. But as the farmer kept on shoveling, and the dirt hit his back, a thought struck the old dog. Each time a shovel full of dirt hit his back, the dog would shake off the dirt and step up. So, blow after blow, the dog would shake it off and step up. No matter how painful those shovels of dirt were, the old dog fought panic, he just kept shaking it off and stepping up. Finally, the dog, battered and exhausted stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well. What he thought would bury him actually benefited him because of the way he handled his adversity.