As we work our way through our Devotionals on the Book of James, I will be combining several posts periodically to provide readers a chance to read more of the material in a central location. Hopefully this will link some of the related ideas together in one easy to read place. I hope you enjoy!
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Count It All Joy
Starting today, we are going to spend a little time in the Book of James. It’s such a great one. The Book of James is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. It’s as close to a handbook for Christian living as a person can get really.
In Verse 1, James had made reference to the “12 tribes which are scattered abroad.” Due to persecution, Jews from Jerusalem had been scattered abroad were were still suffering hardship and trials. In most cases, they were suffering because of their faith. James was writing to them to offer guidance on handling these trials and also to provide them with some guidelines to help them determine the authenticity of their faith.
So, right from the beginning, James jumps right to explain the inevitability of trials and the purposes for them. That’s where we will start also.
“Count” it all joy. Simply put, this is to consider, think about or look upon our temptations, or trials, in a particular way. James is telling us to look at them a particular way because our human nature would not be to look at them that way.
What is that way? With joy. All joy. James is not referring to a gritting your teeth and endure it with a smile joy here; he is talking about the kind of joy we can consider trials with if we truly understand the God has a purpose for them in our lives.
James tells us to count it all joy “when” we fall into temptations, or trials. The word temptation here is synonymous with trial; it’s not referring to temptation to sin here. James is warning us that trials will come, even for and perhaps particularly for, believers.
Divers temptations. Diverse trials, various and sundry trials, trials of many different sorts. My trials will not be your trials. We will all face our own.
James has laid the ground work here in terms of the fact that Christians can expect difficulties and trials. We are, however, to approach and deal with them the way God wants us to, with joy. Perhaps if we understand some of the purposes God has for trials in our lives, we would be better able to consider them with all joy.
Why Be Joyful?
We already know that James was inspired by the Holy Spirit to instruct us to react to our trials with joy. We are to be glad we are being tempted, or tried, rather than sad or upset over them. Why?
The simple answer is that we need to consider trials not from our standpoint, but from God’s standpoint. Of course, that is usually where we fail in most areas, when we fail to consider things from God’s viewpoint.
The trying of our faith “worketh patience.” We have all heard the old saying about being careful about praying for God to give us patience I am sure. Why is that? Because He won’t just give it to us; He will teach it to us.
“Let patience have her perfect work.” In other words, go with the flow so to speak. We need not fight, resist or rebel against the trial in our lives. Remember counting it all joy?
Now we come to the why part of things. We are given trials, in some cases, so that we may become “perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Does this mean that we will become the picture of sinless perfection or be given all of the things we want. Well, I am afraid not.
That simply means that our trials will cause us to become mature in our Christian lives. To be perfect and entire here means simply we will become more grown up Christians, more suited to the work God wants us to do.
As we discussed earlier, we probably want to be careful about asking God to grant us patience. He is not going to deliver patience to us on a silver platter; He is going to teach it to us. How will He teach it to us? With trials, of course.
What then might be some specific reasons God may place trials in our paths? How can they help us develop patience and grow in Christian Maturity?
Trials test our faith. It’s easy to be thankful and grateful to God when things are going our way; it is a test of our true belief and trust in God if we remain thankful and grateful when things are not going our way.
Trials may humble us. We all know God considers meekness and humility to be virtues; yet sometimes we can become so assured and confident concerning our successes that we lose these traits. That is even true, maybe especially true, for how we react towards our successes doing God’s work in His church. God may knock us down a rung or two to humble us.
God may place trials in our lives to tear us away from things of the world and love for the world. I know a man who, when a friend of his would go fishing instead of going to church, would pray that he had a bad day fishing. If there is something we allow to stand in the way of what God wants us to be doing, He might just take it from us.
God may place trials in our way to teach us how to be able to provide solace and comfort to other believers. It’s much easier to feel kindness and empathy towards the trials of others if you have experienced trials of your own. It’s easier to comfort another’s affliction if you have suffered the same affliction.
There are many reasons we may be tested and tried by God. Of course, the ones above are not all inclusive. In fact, we may never know why a particular trial has been place into our lives. God can reveal it to us, or He cannot; sometimes He will and sometimes He won’t.
What matters is we understand that, if a trial is placed in our path, that God is in charge and has some goal in mind. Not only will he have some goal in His mind, but it will be the best one.