Summary: 1) Start choosing an attitude of joy 2) Persevere so you can grow 3) Ask God for wisdom and he will give it 4) Don’t rely on your resources to get through 5) Remember there is reward and blessing in the end.
Which James? Author: There are several men named James mentioned in the New Testament (5), but reliable tradition assigns this book to the one called James the Just - the half-brother of Jesus.
** Jesus Younger Brother: You thought it was hard to follow in your older brothers footsteps. What about having Jesus as your older brother. Hard on Jimmy.
Camel Knee James: An early history of the church says that James was such a man of prayer that his knees had large, thick calluses, making them look like the knees of a camel. It also says that James was martyred in Jerusalem by being pushed from a high point of the temple; the fall did not kill him, and he was beaten to death on the ground as he prayed for his attackers. (David Galick)
Earliest letter: One of the earliest letters probably written before A.D. 50. After Stephen was martyred (Acts 7:55 -- 8:3) persecution increased and Christians in Jerusalem were scattered throughout the Roman Empire.
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.
How to Turn Tough times into Personal Growth?
1. Maintain a positive outlook in your testing time knowing that there is a purpose to your pain. (V. 2-4)
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Keeping a positive attitude and being joy filled seems like a strange reaction to have in the midst of trouble and trials (v.2)
ILLUS: Like giving birth. The pain is great, the labor intensive, but you know good is coming so you endure with a sense of joy.
Don't pretend: The point is not to pretend to be happy when you face pain, but to have a positive outlook (consider it pure joy...inner well being or contentment) because of what it can produce in your life.
ILLUS: Pretend happiness I tried it when I was 6. Spanked while singing the joy of the Lord is my strength. A a ha ha ha ha...wha wha. The ha ha quickly turned to wha wha.
Tough times come to all of us: James doesn't say 'if' you face trails, but whenever you face them. He assumes that we will have trials and that it is possible to benefit from them.
James is exhorting us to turn our trials into times of learning.
PERSEVERANCE: is the ancient Greek word hupomone. This word does not describe a passive waiting, but an active endurance. It isn't so much the quality that helps you sit quietly in the doctor's waiting room as it is the quality that helps you finish a marathon. (David Galick)
Romans 5:3 -- "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;"
ILLUS: Like Working Out: Lifting weights pumping iron. Breaks down your muscles so that they can be rebuilt bigger and stronger.
Character is developed in the crucible of Testing. No short cut.
Perseverance is the doorway to lasting change.
2. Keep doing what is right with an attitude of joy so that maturity can keep developing. (v. 4)
4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Have its full effect, by showing the most perfect degree of endurance, Let endurance have a perfect work (taken out of the previous "worketh patience" or endurance (Faussett)
Wholeness and completeness are a result of cycles of testing we successfully complete.
When you are Complete not Lacking anything -- what are you? Mature!
We can't really see the depth of our character until we see how we react under pressure.
Entire (complete)--that which has all its parts complete, wanting no integral part; 1Th 5:23, "your whole (literally, 'entire') spirit, soul, and body"; as "perfect" implies without a blemish in its parts.
ILLUS: Like sandpaper. Perseverance sands away at the rough edges of our life building character and bringing out the best.
SELF INFLICTED TRIALS: Sometimes the hardest trials to have joy in are self inflicted ones. When we go through hardships that are partly consequences of our own actions... How can we rejoice and count those joy?
Many people go through trials but do not grow. Why? Trials don't make you grow. Your response to the trials cause you to grow.
3. Learn to ask God for wisdom to navigate the challenges of your trial without doubting his goodness (v. 5-8)
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.