Summary: What a Christian Has
Part of a sermon series on the Book of James. What a Christian has: trials and tribulations, temptation, joy wisdom and freedom.
A Recipe for Real Religion by Lewis Fawcett. Get religion like a Methodist, experience it like a Baptist; stick to it like a Lutheran; conciliate it like a Congregationalist. Be proud of it like an Episcopalian. Simplify it like a Quaker. Glorify it like a Jew Pray for it like a Presbyterian. Work at it like the Salvation Arm. Propagate it like a Roman Catholic. Enjoy it like an [African American].
Religion, faith, the marks of true Christian what are they and do we have them? The book of James is a practical book on ethical living as opposed to religious doctrine like we find in Romans. It is a short, concise book of practical thoughts on Christian living. The author of James is not the disciple James but the half brother of Jesus. He was a leader in the early church of Jerusalem. Some say he was their first pastor or bishop whatever the case he initially welded a great deal of power yet note how he begins his letter. VS 1 Some translations read bond servant or slave of God. He begins the letter with great humility as a man wholly devoted, obedient and loyal to Jesus Christ. And then he gets right to the point. I like Dr. Tony Evans translation of verse 1: My name is James, Jesus is Lord, now let’s get to it. James does not waste words or space he gets to the point this is Christian living.
In Chapter one he gives us five things that the Christian has and challenges us to live them out. VS 2. Christian life will have trials and tribulations. The Greek word used here implies trouble or something that breaks the pattern of peace, comfort, joy and happiness in someone’s life. The word “face” as in you will face trials” suggests that one is surrounded by people, objects, and circumstances that will try one’s faith. James didn’t have to tell us that Christian life includes trials and tribulations.
All I have to do is look around the room and call on just about any one of you to testify to that fact, from disease and illness to financial and family struggles to child custody battles and problems at work. We got the trials and tribulations covered. But, James’ focus is not on the events themselves but on our attitude in the midst of them. He says the second thing that Christians should have in their life is an attitude of joy, not just simple, quite, little joy, the word here means ecstatic joy. As If it isn’t enough to have these problems but now we have to have them and be happy, happy, happy about it.
But that is not exactly what James is calling for here. We need to be careful to understand his words. He is not suggesting some kind of masochistic happiness in the hurts and losses of life. He is not suggesting that we manufacture some kind of other-worldly, phony sense of joy about our troubles. We need to dismiss our modern notion of joy and happiness as linked to immediate gratification and full satiety of our wants and desires. The kind of joy that he is talking about is the kind of joy that understands sacrifice in the present life for the attainment of the future good.
It is a joy that is fundamentally beyond ourselves. It is a joy that is the result of a deep sense of being in the presence and will of God. It is found in a sensitivity and humility before God. Don’t pretend to be happy in adversity but have a positive outlook because of what trials can produce in our life when we let God lead us through them. Turn hardships into times of listening and learning from God.
If I asked you would you like to go through some of the trials and tribulations of your life again? You would undoubtedly say, No way! But if I asked you, Are you grateful for what that difficulty accomplished in your life? Many of you would say, I wouldn’t trade those lessons and the character developed in those trials for anything. That is why we consider it all joy. We consider it joy because we know that when tough times come, the end result is going to be strength, character, and maturity in faith. James tells us that God looks upon the person who has endured trials and tribulations with favor “so consider it pure joy y brothers whenever you face trails of many kinds.
Then James goes on to say if that isn’t enough the Christian will also have temptation in life, he cuts right to the chase on this one, “temptations are not from God.” If I had a dime for every time someone said, “God is tempting me to test me” I’d have a nice little nest egg somewhere. James is confronting that though. He says that temptation does not come from God but comes from evil desires from within us. It begins with a slightly naughty kind of thought – I can tell a little lie this time without getting caught, no one will notice if I take a little peak at that magazine with the brown cover on it, what will it hurt if I just this one share a little gossip, have a little too much to drink this time–temptation attracts attention, entices one to try on a little sin, it persuades one to approach the edge of sin and then it lures by means of tantalizing bait try sin on. Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on your front door forever.