James 1:2-4 – “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” NASB
I strongly suggest that you read the first twelve verses of James 1 as you consider this discussion. I ask that after you have done that you look at verse two with me. This is an amazing and almost incredulous declaration, “Consider it all joy…” The word is ‘chara’ which means exuberant joy. Wow! “…when you encounter various trials.” The KJV uses the word ‘divers’ which means many colored and the word ‘trials’ is tests.
I suggest that for impact, you read that one more time very slowly. If you are like me, your initial reaction was, “Hold it just a cotton-pickin’ minute, James, how can this be the will of God or what God wants me to do?” There have been times, when I would read this that I would think, “James, are you seriously telling me that in my Christian walk, development, and maturity I am supposed to express ‘exuberant joy’ when I face trials, tests, and difficulties?” My next thought was, “How in the name of sanity am I supposed to do that?” Can we all acknowledge that most do not like trouble? Some seem to enjoy causing it, but virtually nobody likes to experience it, right?
Let’s put the rubber on the road and lay this straight. According to these verses we are expected to, and it is the desire of our heavenly Father that we come to the place that we can express joy, exuberant joy in our times of testing and trial. I discussed this with a Bible college professor and said, “Then, there must be something I have missed in my study of scripture and my walk in Christ, thus far.”
I’m sure that some can relate to the trepidation, I had and expressed. When was the last time you danced for joy over your problems? In verse one, the word, “greetings” is not simply a salutation, a ‘Hi, how are you?’ It is imperative! The word ‘chario’ means rejoice. The idea conveyed is that Joy is the direct result of God’s Grace and the picture painted here is that of a young lamb skipping and jumping around for joy or dancing!
Let’s take this one step at a time and see if we can reach a reasonable conclusion. We have the injunction to ‘Rejoice’ in our trials and tests. We also must realize that God asks nothing of us that He does not enable us to do. (1 Thessalonians 5:24). If James, through the Holy Spirit, gives this injunction, he must also tell us how to achieve this and enable us to realize why we are not successful now, if we are not.
With that in mind, James (The Book) becomes a very important study for all who want to progress in the Lord and come to full maturity and victory. In Romans 12:1-2 we are encouraged to give our entire selves to God. We are instructed to not become conformed or pressed into the mold of the world but to be transformed (metamorphized) into Christ’s image by having our thought processes renewed or reprogrammed. We are to have the mind of Christ in us and walk in total submission and obedience to the will of God.
The question then is, “Does God allow and even ordain times of testing in the lives of believers?” If so, why? I believe that God has a divine purpose for each of our lives and in that process of testing, He is working on our character enabling us to progressively come or be transformed into the Image of Christ.
That does not mean that we look for, long for, or hope for trouble, trials, and tests. That would be sadistic, and God is certainly not sadistic. That does not mean that when trouble comes, we passively accept it and not aggressively seek to defeat it or get out of it. However, it does mean that we look to see and listen to hear what God is saying to us.
Hopefully, I have inspired a bit of interest in digging deeper into this subject and we will investigate it a bit more in the next devotional.
Until then, may the rich and bountiful blessings of our Lord be upon you!