June 30, 2020 – Tuesday
James 1:2-3 NIV
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Ouch!! Really? You are (I am) supposed to Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds. Why would this be true or seem to be desired? The answer is in the next verse because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Well, no I didn’t know that, at least not until I had read this many years ago. Yet, even then I did not understand it right away.
Today, wanting to understand it better I went here and looked at all the different versions of this verse and found endings in perseverance, patience, endurance, strength to continue, steadfastness – all related. But a slightly different sentence structure for this verse in the Common English Version (CEV) communicated it best in my opinion, You know that you learn to endure by having your faith tested. Frankly it made me think of the saying, What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Of course this saying has more to do with testing yourself physically to achieve fitness and not taking risks that could actually kill you.
However, as for us, as Christians we never know how strong our faith is unless it is tested. Thus the trials of many kinds James mentions. Still, there was an even greater reason James leads with this in the first chapter of his letter. Namely, as the leader of the Messianic church in Jerusalem made up primarily of Jews, James saw they were living through famine, poverty, and persecution from other Jews. Although this was true James addressed his letter to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations. Thus it was and is for all Christians, Jew and Gentile alike as we will all face trials of one sort or another.
The question is how we will respond to the trials. Do we look at the trials we face as God wanting to make our lives miserable to keep us from entering into the kingdom? Or do we look at the trials as a way to truly embrace the righteousness imputed to us by our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior? Obviously, the correct answer is the latter as that shows us to be part of God’s Family. Is it easy? No! Nonetheless, James tells us we are to Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kind. James adds in verse four Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. And in verse twelve adds Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. Even more importantly in verse twenty-two Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Do what it says. This is akin to what we often say at the end of services at our church, This is the classroom, put what you have learned into practice outside these four walls. We have to. learn to put God’s Word into practice, otherwise we are just pretending to be Christians. Do what it says.
Trials and tribulations will come, that is simply life and our own evil hearts as James says – still in chapter 1 – 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Instead we can put our own evil desires to death through our faith and by keeping oneself from being polluted by the world (v27c).
When trials come we can wallow in self-pity and self-righteousness or we can persevere in the faith. The choice, as always, is ours. God made His choice to show His love for us when He let His only begotten Son die on the cross to pay the price for or sins. James is telling us it is worthwhile to persevere and to even take joy in our trials in the face of such love from our Heavenly Father.