Joy, faith, patience and wisdom in our trials
James starts out by saying that he is a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. He first greets the twelve tribes who were scattered abroad. He writes count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations or various trials. Then he says that the trying of our faith worketh patience. He then writes a third step process to let patience have her perfect work that we may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. It does say in Psalm 23 the Lord is my Shepard I shall not want. It is interesting to me that in James 1:4 the verb "Perfect" is used two times. The first time it is written we allow God to let patience have her perfect work. The second time it is used we are the recipients of our obedience to God and receive the blessing.
James changes his tone and talks about wisdom. If we lack wisdom we should ask God who gives to all men liberally. The phrase James uses is ... "And upbraideth not" and as a result, this "Wisdom" from God will be given to us so we will understand how to apply this in our life.
Let me just quote the original text and you can read the passage for yourself and perhaps make reference to it in this particular study of the Bible.
(1) "James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. (2) My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; (3) Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (4) But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (5) If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." James 1:1 - 5.
James starts out with his character and describes himself as a servant of Jesus Christ. Most people believe this James was the earthly brother of Jesus but there is no evidence in the book that he cared about this particular issue. James had much to say in this writing and it is more than obvious that he had a heart for the Son of God. He knew the greatest title was not being an earthly brother but a servant of God and of Jesus Christ. If we are servants of Jesus Christ this pleases God the Father but James gets very specific in this book on how Christians can truly honor God the Father and His Son through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
When James talks about the twelve tribes scattered abroad these were Jews that embraced the Christian faith. They were scattered in several areas of the world and James desired to greet them. I look at my own life and earlier in my service for the Lord, He had me scattered much doing His work. Now I have been called to be for the most part immobile to reach people for the gospel of Jesus Christ. The key is we have to listen to God on how He wants us to execute our task for the Lord and one of those directions we have to seek is, "Lord do you desire me to travel or do you want me to be stationary to do my part for the kingdom of God." The twelve tribes probably were going through calamities of some sort but it is probable that comfort was sent to His scattered people. He desired their needs to be meant but not without the peace of God.
There was a suffering state of Christians in this world because the implication is sort of implied and as a result troubles and afflictions were probably the lot of strong Christians. James desired them to have the joy of the Lord because they were enduring grievous afflictions. These trials were not self-inflicted, sinful but it was due to their faith in Jesus Christ.
In verse two James encourages the suffering Christians to focus on grace but to do it with the joy of the Lord. The Apostle did not want them to sink into sadness because they would just faint under their trials. Joy is the opposite of sadness. The secular world would probably focus more on sadness but Christianity does teach us to be joyful in the Lord. Trials will come and go but the joy of the Lord will last forever. Our problems can brighten our grace in Jesus Christ but if sadness takes center stage in our heart not only will we spiritually faint but go into a downward spiral toward depression. A consistent despondent Christian is a very bad witness for Jesus Christ. James gets his point across because he says count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations.
Of course James does not stop at this biblical principle because having the joy of the Lord in affliction produces strong faith in Jesus Christ. To continue in faith there must be a strong belief in the Bible and it's precepts but we as believers in Christ must claim the promises in the word of God by faith in our particular circumstances.
James goes on to say the trials of our faith worketh patience. If we go through a bad circumstance in life with grace in Jesus Christ we will be more equipped to face the next trial. This is going to sound strange but to exercise patience in our Christian journey we must be patient to allow this spirit to materialize in our hearts. We are believers and the Holy Spirit is at work in our souls. We are not called to be numb to our affections but must pray to Jesus Christ that we are victors over our bad circumstances in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. There is a waiting period by which we have to be patient and in our time of trouble God will never fail us as His Children. This will be in the timing of Jesus Christ and precision on how the Triune Godhead so chooses to rescue us in our bad situation. In horrible trials joy, faith and patience is a compliment to God. Jesus Christ will produce His perfect work in us even in our afflictions. Since patience is mentioned last when this characteristic is complete in our hearts then our Christian journey is on the correct path. We will be able to say the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. I know I quoted that in the first paragraph but it bears repeating because this is where God wants us in our walk with Jesus Christ.
James changes his focus toward our prayer life to God. The Apostle says we are to specifically intercede for wisdom. The tone of this particular passage does not tell us to pray for our affliction to be removed; however, James does seem to point to intercede for wisdom in the midst of our trial. To be wise in troubling times is a specific and special gift from God. Our part is to sincerely ask God but the role of Jesus Christ is to bestow this in our spirit. We are usually without a clue in the midst of hardships but when we become pleaders at the throne of grace in our helpless state we will receive wisdom. If we feel we do not need any help why should God allow us to have this special and specific gift in our life? This should give us encouragement because if we try and go through something complex on our own it is pretty much inevitable that we will make wrong choices in our journey through afflictions.
When the Apostle says He giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not and it shall be given this means God is the only one that can give this to us as believers in Christ. This is in His disposition to grant this request. There is no favoritism so God is not limited to certain people but desires to bestow this on anyone that meets the qualifications of this promise in this text. The portion of wisdom that God gives to us is up to the Triune Godhead and this is their final decision. We should often ask for this during the course of the day and the prayers should not necessary be timed or scripted because we are allowed to be spontaneous in our relationship with Jesus Christ. We still have to be honest, sincere and earnest but this whole idea that we as Christians have to be stern in times and words is false theology.
Always look at the promises of God in the Bible but please take it in context. The promise --- wisdom shall be given to us as earnest children begging for this characteristic from God because this is one of His attributes. Jesus Christ does desire to share but we have to be open to receive this from Him. The Apostle James does get even more specific in James 1: 6 - 8 but this is for another article because these are three verses in a bundle that is jammed packed with biblical content. It is pretty obvious that I have to stop at this point or the article would be way to long for you to read.
If I followed this particular biblical principle in my past a lot of hardship would have been spared in my life. I was the king at saying I know how to handle this (I did not) and as a result I went into major trials. If I was more faithful everyday in asking God for wisdom with a sincere heart in my troubles I would have received a path in the right direction in my journey down here but I was foolish. Anytime we say I can handle this without God that in and of itself is a lack of wisdom. Every time I handled major distress on my own I always fell flat on my face. I do not want you to face the same hardships I had to deal with because I really care for you. Wisdom from God does not just mean --- this is what God desires me to do but it also means that when God says do nothing He means what He says so please ponder what I am trying to portray to you. Many times I decided to take matters in my own hands and figuratively received many black eyes. The mental / emotional pain I went through was really difficult to go through and get to the other side (resurrected victory in the Person of Jesus Christ).
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your very own personal Savior and Lord now might be a good time to repent of all of your sins and invite the Son of God into your life. I hope and pray that you just decided to make that all important eternal decision.
God Bless you,