Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about trials, troubles, and difficulties. I’ve been teaching about troubles, and I have thought very much about the testing of our faith.
James wrote about testing (James 1:2-4). Isn’t it amazing that almost the first words of his letter to the dispersed believers was about trials?
This was a group who experienced one trial after the other. Acts 8 shows how the believers were scattered (think of scattering the seed of the gospel). God used their trials to bring our joy.
James himself faced martyrdom. We do not have a biblical depiction of his death, but we do have a strong picture from history. Early Christian tradition tells us that James faced martyrdom in A.D. 62. This James was the half brother of Jesus, the son of Mary who after his salvation became the leader of the church in Jerusalem.
He played a major part in the Gospel advance by moderating the discussion about the salvation of gentiles as recorded in Acts 15. He let everyone talk, and then he gave a biblical answer. His leadership has affected the work of Christians to this day.
James came to know Jesus as the Christ when Jesus appeared to him after the crucifixion (1 Corinthians 15:7).
What did James say about trials? He gave four imperatives that we need to deal with the trials of life.
First, you need a joyful attitude. The word for joy in James 1:2 is a word that describes exuberance and an ecstatic joy. If you want to end with joy, it helps so much to begin with joy.
Second, you need an understanding mind. James emphasized the importance of the mind. If we can see the “why” of something, we often can handle the “what” that is taking place. James said that we know that the testing of our faith produces patience (steadfastness). When steadfastness has reached its full effect, we grow into Christian maturity.
All we have to do to understand the importance of patience is to look at our children. Children who can wait and be patient are generally the ones who will do better in life
Third, we have to work with God for our growth. James calls us to let steadfastness have its full effect. In order for sanctification to take place we must work with God and let him have our lives. We must let God do His work.
Fourth, when afflictions come, we must ask for the wisdom to see God at work. Receiving His wisdom will help you be faithful and move forward in what God wants you to do.
No one wants trials, but we will all have trials. The best thing we can do is to count our trials as joy, knowing that God is working to bring us to maturity and wisdom.
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