Summary: 3rd in a sermon series on James dealing with wisdom for facing trials.
“Wisdom for Facing Trials”
This is the third episode in our journey through James. James wrote this letter of instruction to those he warmly called his dear brothers. He wrote this letter to validate genuine faith. How does real faith in Jesus behave when encountering life in a broken world? He issued over 50 “life instructions (LI)” supported by numerous “divine insights (DI)” to enable us to follow those instructions. James’ letter serves as a mirror to determine 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 show true trust in God or not. James centers on the behavior that confirms spiritual maturity. James highlights the behavior that stems from a sincere desire to express a salvation already received by faith apart from personal behavior, NOT behavior driven by a desire to secure salvation. Trials serve as a primary test to confirm the reality of our faith.
James addresses faith’s response to trials in verse 2-18.
I. Faith’s response to trials 1:2-18
A. Life Instruction #1 with Insight
1. Instruction: 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.
Trials refer to difficult situations in life that challenge. James called them “various” trials. The variety of life difficulties is vast. The intensity of these trials ranges from slight to severe. They are inevitable. James instructs us to respond not if, but when we encounter them. No one escapes difficult times.
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. So, what are we to do when a trial blindsides us out of nowhere? James calls for what seems to be an irrational response. It is the response of one fully trusting God no matter what.
“count it all joy”
Calculate the benefits of encountering various trials to be an occasion for joy. It seems irrational to consider a trial an occasion for joy. Usually we rejoice GETTING OUT of trials. James instructs to also rejoice GOING IN. Such a response requires genuine trust in God. James provided a perspective adjuster or divine insight enabling joy in trials.
2. Divine Insight – Knowing testing produces endurance
“knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
The “knowing” enables the rejoicing. We may think we have strong faith, but how we respond to trials may reveal otherwise. Knowing that trials produce endurance challenges us to view trials differently. The term translated “endurance” comes from two terms meaning to “remain under”.
Endurance is the ability to continue pursuing and doing what we know is right before God, despite my feelings, or fatigue and despite any impulse to escape, grumble, or crumble under the test.
We willingly remain under the trial allowed by God to refine our faith. Scripture calls for another response to any temptation to do what is wrong. God calls us to resist any temptation intended by Satan to destroy our faith. Attitude change comes from perspective change. Understanding the positive benefit enables us to joyfully face the negative trial. Trusting God in trials enables endurance of the trial. Rather than collapse, run, fall apart, lash out, give up, blame God and others, we intentionally endure by focusing on a positive outcome. Endurance however is not the final objective. James issued another life instruction and divine insight.
B. Life instruction #2 with insights
1. Instruction: Continue enduring
And let endurance have its perfect result
First, consider encountering various trials joy. Next, continue enduring those trials until they produce the final product. He then specified the final product.
2. Insight: endurance produces maturity and stability
SO THAT you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James shared a pathway to becoming perfect and complete, lacking in NOTHING. Combining the first two instructions and insights we get this.
Joyfully continue choosing to trust in God whenever we encounter trials.
Knowing that every trial facilitates endurance.
Knowing that continued endurance produces spiritual maturity and stability
The desired result of continued endurance is spiritual maturity.
James described the end goal as being “perfect”, “complete”, “lacking in nothing.”
Function at peak capacity and development, become fully grown.
Become sound or whole.
Have everything you need (contentment).
When we bail out or crash and burn, or fail to respond with an attitude of joy, we fail to achieve the intended objective. Failure to endure trials blocks the development of the spiritual muscles necessary for future encounters with unexpected trials.
Turbulent winds cause the eagle to fly higher.