Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rejoicing In Trials (James 1)

Theme: Wait For The Judge

1) By rejoicing in trials (1:1-18)

One thing which might make it difficult to wait for Christ to return as Judge, is the suffering and trials we face during life.  To persuade us to endure, chapter one gives several reasons to rejoice in trials:

Because trials result in maturity (1-4). 

The idea seems to be that there will come points in time when you will fall into, so as to be surrounded by, various kinds of trials.  These test your faith, and produce the ability to abide under pressure, or "patience".  Like spiritual exercise, when you continue abiding under the pressure of a test until it is finished, it develops "fullness of age", completeness, or maturity in that aspect of your character.

Because trials result in wisdom (5-8)

It seems that the wisdom which God offers, here, is the understanding of how to cope with trials.  The text says God generously gives wisdom to all men who ask for it, and does not upbraid them.  The word "generously" seems to come from two roots, one meaning "not', and the other meaning "weaved".  The idea seems to be that God gives wisdom simply, frankly, sincerely, or openly, like a single, unbraided thread.  The word "gives" is in the present tense, and seems to indicate God gives wisdom continually.  To receive this benefit, one must believe God will give it, and not waver in doubt.

Because trials result in glory (9-12)

Verse 12 says "blessed" ["happy"] is the man who perseveres under trial" (NAS), because after he passes the test, he receives the crown of life.  Trials can be like sun and scorching wind, which expose the passing value of material possessions.  Ephesians 1, however, explains that every believer, whether rich or humble in earthly possessions, has been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  Trials wean us from the fading value of worldly treasures, and focus our hope on eternal riches and glory in Christ (cf. 1 Pet. 1).
Because trials reveal God's goodness (13-17)

One thing which might make it difficult to rejoice in a trial is the idea that somehow God is not good, or is trying to tempt you to sin. This is the lie Satan whispered in Eve's ear when she was being tested for obedience.  God is holy, and is neither tempted by sin, nor tempts men to sin.  Men are tempted because of their own desires or lusts. Lust works sin in them, and sin results in death.  Believers might be tempted to blame God for their sin, but God tempts no one, and remembering He is good should persuade us to rejoice in trials.

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