I mentioned last time that James was a plain spoken man. James is also direct and to the point. As proof of this he says hello in verse one and by verse two he talks about the trials that come into our life; the times of testing that can leave us spiritually battered and bruised.
Trial vs. Tempted
“How do I know what I’m going through is a trial as opposed to Satan just pounding me over the head?” When God’s hand is at work the trial is designed to build you up, to strengthen your Christian character. When Satan is on the scene his only goal is to ruin you and make you fail. God wants to embrace you and Satan wants to embarrass you.
Trials – v.2-4 “count it all joy”
We are all quick to point out that trials can increase our faith but we don’t feel that way when we are the ones in the trial. If you have been a Christian any length of time you can recall times of trouble that afterwards made you stronger. Why then do we seek deliverance in the midst of the storm? For one we don’t like trouble and even though we know and will testify that the Christian life is not a bed of roses a part of us thinks it should be. The truth is we want things to be easy.
As he writes James first says to be joyful during a trial. How do we do that? Verses 3 and 4 tell us how: trails teach us patience, they teach us to trust in God and when the trial is over we are closer to our Heavenly Father.
We open the garage door and finally admit that we have let the junk pile up so high the original use of the garage is lost. We set aside the time and dutifully begin to clean. After several trips to the dump and many hours of cleaning we now have a functioning garage. Let’s not forget the promise… I am never going to allow this garage to get this messy again. (Can I get a witness?)
Trials come out of God’s mercy towards us so we will get rid of all the junk and return ourselves to a functioning Christian. God is not testing us to see if we are worthy to go to heaven; He is helping us get rid of the trash that prevents us from reaching our full potential.
We should also be fair here in evaluating our trials; truly Christians will face times of testing. This is what James is addressing; however, we have a tendency to shoot ourselves in the foot sometimes. This is not a trial even though it feels like one. In these cases we suffer damage, physical and or emotional, simply because we used poor judgment.
We know that a knife is sharp; if we are not careful we can cut ourselves. God didn’t cause us to slash our hand to teach us something, we cut our hand because we were careless.
In times of trouble we should separate true Christian trials from our own dumb mistakes. If it is a self-inflicted injury accept responsibility for it and move forward.
A Trial Might not be About Us
We are living in an “all about me” world. Surrounded by such a mentality we can, if we are not careful, be affected by their influence.
Our trial might not be about helping ourselves. In this society that is a stunning statement. The Apostle Paul realized this and in a letter to the Philippians he stated it. Phil 1:12-14
Paul’s trials gave strength to the early church. Paul said his suffering was an inspiration to others. Are we willing to go through a trial to help a stranger?
When we know we are going through a trial we then can take the instruction James gives us and know God is helping us, or perhaps someone else, to grow spiritually. If we are truly in a trial remember that God is still on the throne, which means God is allowing it. That also means God will create something good out of the trial; we only have to have faith to see it through. By faith we can look forward to the day of deliverance. (I wonder how God will pull me through this time.) When we look at it that way we can endure the trial and even perhaps learn to do it joyfully.
The early church shared their experiences and drew strength from each other. Would you like to share a trial and how God brought you through it? Please comment, someone might draw strength from your story.