Title: Steadfastness In Trials
Text: James 1.2-11
Introduction: James, the brother of Jesus writes to the Jews scattered abroad. His letter is about faith being lived out. I think that really comes through in our study tonight. Let’s begin with a question:
- How one should respond to Trials? (1.2)
exp.: read v 2; 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds; Count – means lead or guide; Luke 22.26; the 2nd meaning is consider or regard or think; here, count. Also, esteem might be a good word. use that with lead or guide. Someone who is a leader or guides others is someone who is esteemed, held in high regard, considered or well thought of. That’s the idea behind this word – hold joy in high regard when you meet trials of various kinds.
Transition: the next question would naturally be: why? Why hold it high, why be joyful in trials? What do these trials bring?
- Why? What do trials bring to your life? (1.3-4)
exp.: rd v 3; 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. Steadfast bookends; rd v 12; in v 2-3; also trials; so the theme here would be remaining steadfast in trials; and the reason is because of the outcome: maturity; rd v 4; 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. See the words full and perfect; same word in the Greek. It means to finish, like a goal or the end of a race; you’ve run the course and you’re finished; Hence full, I like complete. There isn’t anymore to do. As for the word complete, my lexicon says: “a qualitative term (think quality over quanity), with integrity, whole, complete, undamaged, intact, blameless πίστις undiminished faith…”
app.: trials have benefit – they produce steadfastness in your faith, which in turn brings about a sense of fullness, perfection, completeness in your faith (think quality, not quantity). The word I used, but you don’t see in the text is maturity – a mature faith.
Ill.: Elsie Snyder: we had just finished a rather tough business meeting. I apologized to her for the hard times we were going through and she said: we’ve been through much tougher times than these.
Transition: I know we don’t like trials of various kinds; however, there is a great benefit to enduring them – growth in your faith. Let’s look at this next section in v 5-8; rd v 5: 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. It sounds like he’s leaving the issue of steadfastness in trials and moving on to something else. But he isn’t, not really. I believe he’s answering another question:
- How do we handle trials when we’re in them? (1.5-9)
exp.: Yes, count it all joy when you’re in them. Understand that they produce a strong, mature faith. This takes wisdom, and, if you’re in a struggle, a trial, and you’re lacking the wisdom to push forward, ask for it. It’s like he’s saying – be steadfast in trials because they’re going to make you more mature in your faith. And if you have trouble seeing it, ask God for the wisdom to show you. The Greek is much more poetic than the English: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask the giving God who is generous to all without reproach… Now isn’t that beautiful? The Giving God. Do you look at God like that? Like, he wants to give you what you need to be strong in your faith as you endure trials.
I don’t want to move on from this… let’s dialogue for a moment; what does this do for your faith?
- If you lack wisdom – Ask for wisdom, and then he says…
- If you ask for wisdom – Ask in faith… let’s continue reading rd v6;
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
I think we see a comparison here: faith v. doubt. Sometimes we see the word doubt as ἄπιστος; but here, the word is διακρίνω: through, because and to judge.
Doubt is judging your situation. Faith is judging in what you don’t see.
How much doubt would you say someone has to have before he doesn’t have faith? Mark 9.14-29; What does Matt 14.31 mean? Mt 21.21?
Well, that person – the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.… tossed up and down, in and out, to and fro. But the one with faith…he is steadfast. Rd v 7-8:
7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. So this is what we see: A lack of faith reaps nothing. So ask for wisdom believing the giving God for his gift.
Let’s continue with this illustration James gives us; rd v 9-11;
9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
exp.: Let me say, I struggled with these verses. What do they mean? One of my favorite preachers, R. Kent Hughes disagrees with me here. But here are my thoughts: I think James is using what we call a ‘paradox’ here: The rich poor guy and the poor rich guy. Actually, he calls the 1st guy a brother. So, who is he talking about? Really, I don’t think the question is who, but rather what. What is he talking about here?
Well, what is the context? Remaining steadfast in trials. So, within the context here, he’s talking about a person, a Christian whose trial is their severe poverty. A person who is poor should ‘boast’ in their highly exalted position. Really? Sounds crazy! Well it is, unless you understand the paradox. This takes wisdom. And if you don’t have wisdom, then ask in faith for it.
The rich poor person should be proud of his exalted position. The focus isn’t on money, but rather, who we are in Christ.
- Romans 8.17a;
- Hebrews 12.22-24a;
- 1 Peter 2.9-10;
- 1 John 3.1-2;
The rich person, I’m assuming now the context is about the rich person without Christ, they have all they are ever going to get. When they say, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” They have no idea the truth to that prophecy. For them, it’s all down hill from there. Do you see the analogy here: rd 10b-11; the rich man hasn’t any hope for the future. Everything he is enjoying now will pass.
Transition: And v 12, brings it all back into context: rd v 12; 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. It is a call to remain steadfast in trials, because we know what our future holds.
So, what are our take-a-ways?
- Evaluate your attitude in your current struggle. As for counting it pure joy, how are you doing?
- Do you see most of your trials as
- Burdens placed on you by God?
- Satanic attacks?
- Opportunities for growth?
- Have you ever referred to God as The Giving God? What terms have you been using?
- Which statment identifies your walk better?Doubt is judging your situation. Faith is judging in what you don’t see.