James’ Urgent Message – Part II – James 1:1-8
Today, we start with James 1:1-8. I am using The Voice translation, but please read it in whatever translation you prefer.
James Urgent Message About Trials
” James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, to the twelve tribes of Israel who are spread across the earth: I send you my warmest welcome! Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line – mature, complete and wanting nothing.
If you don’t have all the wisdom need for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking. The key is that your request be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God. Those who depend on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind.
Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused.”
As we saw last week, James is addressing this directly to the new, Jewish Christians. He calls them “brothers and sisters.” There is not much of an introduction as James immediately asks them not to run from the tests and hardships they were encountering. He then goes even further and asks them to find joy in them and embrace them! The implication here is that these people were encountering trials and hardships which they “fell into” while moving through life. The problems were not brought on by things the people were doing, instead, the hardships were involuntary.
I don’t know about you but that’s really not my first reaction when hardship comes my way. I don’t want to embrace it, I want it to go away. We encounter things which are not temptations. Instead, they are trials like sickness, poverty, bereavement, persecution, etc.
My Reaction to Hardships
Romans 5:3-5 says this, “And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer, we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love.” Here it says we should be celebrating in seasons of suffering. I didn’t have to celebrate that I had cancer. I had to celebrate what God would do in me as I went through that trial. It was hard. It was miserable. However, it yielded great fruit in my life as I trusted in God. I do celebrate the fruit of that season.
Questions to Ponder
Have you been tested by suffering?
What were the results? In the end, was there gold that had been tested by fire?
How would you respond to someone who tells you that good and joy can come from the trials you are experiencing?
What doubts about God and prayer does the average person usually experience, especially in times of trials and testing?
Look at what Paul says you can gain from embracing the trials and tests. First, your faith will blossom. Second, You will learn true patience. Patience will then build endurance in you so that you can finish the race. Finally, he lists three things which can be part of us. We can be mature, complete and wanting nothing! That is in incredible promise.
How to be a Mature Christian
Sometimes I think that we spend too much time trying to be mature; searching for the ‘deep’ things of God; and worrying about what we are doing wrong. Instead, here is a formula that renders us mature. The thing ism, we would rather not gain those three things via the road of trials and hardships. I would rather be able to get there a different way.
The rest of this section holds some simple principles. If you need wisdom, just ask for it. God will give it and will never scold you for asking. That’s easy.
What’s the catch? That your request is anchored in your single-minded commitment to God. That’s not a catch. It’s a completely usable key. You aren’t leaning on your own wisdom; you’re committed; and, you’ve asked for God’s wisdom, walking in it rather than your own.
Where is Your Loyalty?
The last sentence of this section says, “Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused.” The splinter of divided loyalty. You can’t serve God and mammon. You must choose. Once you do, you need to stay the course through a single-minded commitment.
The Deep Things of God
These are the deep things of God. In a few sentences, we are given the key to maturity and wanting for nothing. While it sounds simple, the path to it is strewn with hardships. Not temptations. God does not tempt us.
Before next week, please read 2 Peter 1:2-9. Here, Peter spells out how to have a productive relationship with Christ. Again, it’s not an easy path but if we truly want to be mature and complete, it is one we need to walk in the manner prescribed in the Bible. That includes embracing the fact that there is treasure on the path at the end of the hardship or trial. It’s there along with wisdom. It’s there as the Holy Spirit walks beside you through the trial. Jesus is there, never leaving or forsaking you.