Tuesday, July 05, 2005

All Joy

James 1:2-4



I. Consider it all joy when we encounter various trials.

a. All Joy.
The first thing that James writes in this section is to consider it all joy. When we read this section in our English Bibles at first we might think that the all modifies the trials. However, all here goes with the joy. We are to consider it all joy. It is not a half-hearted joy, but it is full joy. It is not just excitement, and it does not include anger. Having this kind of joy in all situations is the result of God drawing us closer to him. This joy is a result of the gospel. Look at what Peter says about this joy in 1 Peter 1:7-8. This joy comes from you faith being strengthened, your hope in the return of Christ, and your love for Christ. This joy goes hand in hand with your spiritual maturity, and results in you rejoicing.

b. Various Trials.
Trials are the great common experiences of the Redeemer and the redeemed. They are to be expected as part of living life on this present earth. Christ told his followers that the world would hate them just as the hated him. He also faced temptation just as we do (Hebrews 2:18). But as was true with Christ, no temptation ought to disturb our joy. So as Peter said whatever the trial may be it is to be considered an occasion for joy. We will face various trials. We will encounter trials that come in many shapes, and degrees. James does not distinguish between internal and external trials. Many times what begins as an external trial becomes an internal trial.

II. Knowing that the testing of your faith develops endurance.

a. Testing of your faith.
Why? Why should we consider all of these trials as joy? Well because these trials bring us closer to God. But how? It brings us closer to the Lord by testing out faith. Do you remember when the Lord told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? Genesis 22 says that God tested his faith. God was not testing him because he did not know Abraham’s character; He tested him to strengthen Abraham’s character. Trials will do that. The word that is used here and translated as testing is used in this form only one other time in the NT (1 Peter 1:7), and three times in the LXX. Every time the word is used it is referring to gold being tested by fire. The idea here is not that you can fail the test and lose your faith. The idea is that the trial purifies your faith. Just as gold is gold and is improved by the fire, so to a Christian is a Christian and is improved by trials. Trials will strengthen our faith in many ways: humble us; wean us from our dependence on earthly things; call us to an eternal perspective; reveal what we really love; teach us the value of God’s blessings; enable us to better help others in their trials.

b. Develops endurance.
But above all trials will develop endurance so that we may continue in all these other things. Did you notice how we are supposed to consider it all joy when we face trials? It starts with knowing. It is a change in our perspective and in our way of thinking. When we begin to see things as God sees them then, and only then will we be able to consider it pure joy to have no money. And when we have this new mind set our endurance will be strengthened because we will see what we are enduring to. We are enduring until our salvation is realized and we are in the presence of the Lord. At that point our faith will become sight, and our trials gold. Endurance is praying that when you stand before the judgment seat of Christ he will say well done my good and faithful servant. Endurance is being able to say with the apostle Paul that you have fought the good fight, and have run the race. Endurance begins with knowing what you are enduring to.

III. Let endurance have its perfect result.

a. Endurance.
If endurance begins with knowing then we need to let endurance grow by changing our minds. All throughout Scripture the sanctification process is viewed as a changing of our minds. And so we must let endurance work by having our perspectives changed. And we must let the Spirit change our perspectives through the Word of God. We must to see our own situation in light of who God is and who we are. If we face a trial it would be easy to get mad, or discouraged. It is easy because we see things only from our perspective. We see only ourselves to help us out of the situation, and we see no hope. But if we see things from God’s perspective we will see God in control and God as the source of our help.

b. Perfect Result.
If we let the Spirit change our minds through the Word of God then we can be confident that we will achieve the goal of the Christian life; conformity with the image of Christ. Christ had to have an eternal perspective in order to humble himself on our behalf (although being God he did not consider equality with God something to be attained). Our trials will not make us richer, more popular, famous, or rich. What trials will do is sanctify us. Remember salvation is not a one time event. It is a process that began before time, and will culminate at the end of time (Romans 8). Trials in our life help us get to the perfect result that God has intended for us in our salvation.

IV. So that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing.

a. Perfect and complete.
The perfect result of endurance is our conformity with the image of Christ. It is what Paul refers to as being perfect and complete. Here we have to be careful with our English translations. The word that is translated as perfect may not mean exactly what you think. This word carries with it the idea of being fully realized. It is actually the same word that Christ used when he cried “It is finished” from the cross. The idea is not that we are sanctified to a state of sinless perfection. And the word that is translated as complete carries with it the idea of wholeness. If I were to paraphrase this verse I would say: “that God’s work may be accomplished in you making you complete in Christ.” The force of this verse lies more in whether or not you are allowing God to accomplish His work in you.

b. Lacking nothing.
And when God is accomplishing his purpose in you, then you will lack nothing. Are you ok with that? Can you face a trial and rejoice because you see God at work. You are lacking nothing when you are letting God accomplish His purpose in you. You can know that you have everything that you need, because you have everything that God has given you.

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