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Insights on James (Snow Day-No Church)
Sermon Notes
Sunday, 09 February 2014 00:00

Since we were snowed out last Sunday, I thought I’d share a few insights from what we’ve already studied that I gleaned from my reading in the book entitled Triumph Through Trials: The Epistle of James, by David R. Anderson, Grace Theology Press, 2013.

In James’s introduction (1:2-18) to the body of his letter he gives three positive values that trials add to our lives: needed endurance, needed wisdom, and a greater quality of life. Endurance is one of the most necessary virtues in the Christian life because without it, we will not hang in there long enough to develop the kind of faith that is quality-tested and thus approved by God; without endurance we will not be able to demonstrate our love for God; and without endurance we will not grow to the point that our hope lies not in this world but in the next.
We can view needed endurance from the perspective of responding to trials (1:2), the reason for trials (1:3), and the result of trials (1:4).
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
The main verb of verse 2 tells us to “count it” all joy. It is the word hegeomai, which is a word that indicates coming to a conclusion based upon facts. It says, “Let’s be objective. Don’t let your feelings throw you off track in the midst of your trial. Let’s get some perspective on the situation. Let’s look at the facts.” My feelings do not have to dictate joy. When a trial hits us unexpectedly and knocks the wind from our sails, this tells me that I can arrive at genuine joy by seeking an objective view of the entire situation. The root of the word means “to lead,” which suggests that a careful consideration of everything involved will lead to a joyous conclusion. This is important because it tells me that when a trial knocks me for a loop, although my initial response is not joy, gaining an eternal perspective on the situation will lead me to genuine joy. The text actually reads “all joy.” The thrust of that statement is pure joy – unmixed joy – unadulterated by anger, which is often expressed in depression and self-pity. James mentions “various” trials. This word is poikilois in the original. We get the term polka-dotted from it. It often meant “many-colored, variegated.” Our trials come in all different sizes, shapes, shades, and hues. No matter the character, shape or description of our trial, we are to count it an unmixed blessing from God. Another important word is “when.” Trials are not optional; they are inevitable. Trials are a normal part of God’s process of bringing us to glory (1 Peter 4:12-13). Trials are not something strange, but rather something inevitable.
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
The word “testing” is dokimion, from which we get the classic picture of purifying metals. Our faith enters a fiery furnace ignited by the trials of life. The purpose of this refining process is the trying or testing of our faith, in hopes that any remaining impurities will smolder and burn away. Through this process, as we “endure” (“remain under” God’s revealed desire for our lives), our faith is strengthened and matured.
4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. The word for “perfect” is teleios, and means “complete, finished, mature.” The Greek word for “complete” is another compound word: holo + kleros. The first word means “whole” and calls to mind a soldier fully equipped for battle or a ship decked out for a voyage. A Christian needs all the weaponry and armor he can get lest he retreat from battle. He needs to be thoroughly decked out for the voyage, lest his ship be whipped onto the jagged rocks by the driving fierce winds of adversity. The second part of this compound word means “lot,” as in our lot in life. God has a great purpose for each of us. So this word speaks of getting the full benefit from the circumstances allotted to us.
This fourth verse is a warning from James about running through the lesson too rapidly. “But,” he says, “let endurance have its complete work.” “Be sure,” James says, “you reap all the benefits from the test God designed for you to reap. Be sure you lack nothing the test can furnish you.” This requires an additional measure of endurance, so I allow Him to determine the time when the test will be terminated. Now we can experience genuine joy. We can survey the wreckage of our trial and overcome the initial punch in the stomach with true rejoicing. Why? Verses three and four give us the answer in terms of an eternal perspective.
God uses trials in our live to fit us out for a journey which will certainly have some rough spots. He is equipping us with armor to win battles against spiritual forces. He wants to develop us into mature soldiers who can stand with His Son in these days.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. This is not a false joy; it is genuine joy stemming from a prayerful mental journey from earth to heaven to survey the eternal horizon and search for God’s point of view. Sometimes it may take years. And still, in other instances, we may never know the eternal reason for our trial until the next life. But there is a purpose we can see right now regardless of when the picture becomes complete. God has a university. Every one of His children gets a full scholarship to this university. In it, God prepares each one according to his gifts and talents for a useful place in His eternal future kingdom and to further His work on earth right now. That is what Christian discipleship is all about. Some of the courses at this university are fun – the electives. Some are very difficult but are required for us to become all we can be. And for those who don’t drop out, graduation day will be the happiest day of their lives. That’s when we find out just what all those required courses were about. That’s when we stand before Him at the Judgment Seat of Christ to learn about the exciting place He has prepared for us to serve and glorify Him forever!

 

 

 

 

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