Summary: There is a progression of our faith where we continue to endeavor to be more like Christ.
Introduction: Imagine yourself in your car on an early Sunday morning. As you back out of the driveway you don’t see the garbage can behind the bumper and you hear the clang of metal against metal. As you step out of the car you see the unimaginable mess that is now spread out over your once clean driveway. Now imagine yourself at your desk at work and suddenly from beyond your cubicle you overhear a conversation about a fellow employee. As you begin to make out the conversation it appears that people are talking about you. You listen more intently to find out that employees are disgruntled about your having a “Jesus Rules” sticker on your computer monitor. They appear to be upset that one of those Bible thumpers are crowding their style in the office.
We all have opportunity everyday to offer ourselves to the Lord in service. But if in the morning we say “yes Lord” are we saying “no Lord” with our lifestyle? Before we being I wish to spend a moment talking about the circumstances behind James writing such a work to the church. First of all it is safe to say that he is writing to those who are already believers. Second, in being believers in that time there was great persecution happening all over the Christian community. Lastly, he writes not as a person who does not fathom the depth of their persecution but one who suffers with them in the Lord. James writes as a father would address his children….tenderly, firmly, and with wisdom. Let us see the wisdom that James has in store for us today.
The Matthew Henry Commentary states about suffering for Christ;
The design of it is to reprove Christians for their great degeneracy both in faith and manners, and to prevent the spreading of those libertine doctrines which threatened the destruction of all practical godliness. It was also a special intention of the author of this epistle to awaken the Jewish nation to a sense of the greatness and nearness of those judgments which were coming upon them; and to support all true Christians in the way of their duty, under the calamities and persecutions they might meet with. The truths laid down are very momentous, and necessary to be maintained; and the rules for practice, as here stated, are such as ought to be observed in our times as well as in preceding ages. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the New Testament, Electronic Edition STEP Files 2000, Findex.Com.)
Read James 1:1-8
Vs. 1-3 - Trials – it is not a matter of IF trials will happen to a Christian it is a matter of WHEN. James makes this perfectly clear. We are in the midst of developing perseverance because of trials. How does this relate to our ability to strengthen our faith? As we read this let us remember that the author is James the brother of Jesus. Who I believe found it difficult to grapple with the idea of his half-brother being the Savior of mankind. That is until the resurrection. In James’ case he referred to perseverance as something tangible almost as if you can hold it in your hand. The words used are develops. With this we can understand that it is a definite process. Nothing happens overnight. How long is the process…only God knows. It is much like our prayer life. We can expect to hear three answers from the Lord concerning prayers. Yes, no, and wait. Which of these is more difficult?
Paul states in Romans 5:3-5 We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, characters; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.”
Vs. 2 – Why is testing even necessary? Testing is a tool to measure excellence in learning. Let’s be a RAT for a moment. A RATIONAL ADULT THINKER. If we are all working towards perfection in the image of Christ then we must have a standard. To meet a standard you must be tested according to your learning so far. This is the purpose for testing. When we pass those “tests” we glorify the Father in knowing that we are learning from Him. Illustration: Professor didn’t like the word test it carried too many bad connotations with it. He said it was an exercise of knowledge. That is really what a test is. It is our way of exercising the knowledge (wisdom) we have gained through relying on God.
Vs. 4 – A finishing of the work…completeness. Our God is so good. He brings about completeness in everything. We find images of completeness throughout the Bible.
Examples: Promised Land fulfilled
Peter reconciled to Christ after the refusal