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
Let’s look at James and the message in a little more detail. I feel directed by the Holy Spirit to embark on a journey through the Book of James to learn how to ‘Rejoice’ in times of trial and testing. I want to discover how to come to full maturity in Christ and thereby be the of the greatest use to Him and His Kingdom that I can become. Are you with me?
In verse one we find a very interesting and necessary word to unwrap before we proceed. It is the world ‘bond-servant’ or the Greek (dulos). He is self-identifying as a willing servant of God and thereby as a servant to the rest of the Body of Christ.
This James, in the natural, is the half-brother of Jesus. He is the son of Mary and Joseph, the eldest natural son, as in the listing seen in Matthew 13:55. In Galatians 1:19, we know that he was apparently a leading figure among the apostolic leadership in Jerusalem. It appears from everything that we can discern that he may not have been a believer until after the death and resurrection of Jesus. (1 Corinthians 15:7). History and scripture reveal that James was a man of devout character and a man of prayer. Some have suggested that James prayed so much that his knees became hard and calloused like camel’s knees.
He is a bond-servant (dulos). He is a natural relative in the eyes of man and yet he calls himself a ‘dulos’. That means, “I have nothing for myself, I am totally His and I joy exquisitely in carrying His name.” He spoke to the twelve tribes scattered. He was not writing to natural Israel within the confines of the geographic boundary but to all people everywhere. In verse two he speaks to ‘brethren’. This is not a corrective message to the world, but a message to believers.
Let me offer this thought, “The Character of the Believer is perfected through testing.” Before you reject that consider verses 2-4. Then, in that context verse 5 and we discover that God desires to make us fully cognizant of what and why. It not only touches us but those we minister to as we go forward in life.
None of us like times of testing and trial. But God allows us to have times when our faith is tested and our resolved exposed. This is designed to help us be steadfast and confident in Him and His provisions. He works on us bringing us to the place that we are spiritually mature, lacking nothing. (vv 3-4).
I believe that God wants us to know that the trying of our faith is working something specific and wonderful in us. It is not designed to frustrate or anger us, which is of no value. It is designed to bring us to maturity and enable us to help others as they face tests, trials, and difficulties hard to explain. The word in the KJV is ‘temptation’ and in its usage does not mean temptation to sin but carries the idea of testing directed toward an end. What is the end? The end is that we will become stronger, purer, more mature, and if you will, perfected.
The word in verse two in the KJV ‘divers’ or ‘many-colored’ means we are going to have trials of all shapes, sizes, duration, and appearance. How we respond will determine if we take another lap around the mountain as did Israel in the wilderness or if we move on to the next level of maturity and victory.
Let me illustrate it this way:
You may have some Blue Mondays when you are discouraged. You may get depressed and things don’t seem to work out exactly as you wanted or expected or think they should. At that point you get offended.
You may have some Black Tuesdays. You thought Monday was hard, but Tuesday is even worse and all you see are the dark clouds and no relief in sight.
Then, those Tuesdays turn into Red Wednesdays and you see ‘red’ all day long in anger, frustration, and disappointment. Everything that can go wrong goes wrong and you are like a volcano ready to explode. Things are bad and you are mad at everything and everyone including God.
Next comes Green Thursday, where you are filled with envy. You are jealous of the seeming ease and success of others who do not seem to be as devoted as you. They get blessed and you struggle. It is just not fair.
You transition to the Golden Sunday where you discover that sometimes even the good days are a time of testing. When things are going bad you are diligently pressing in, seeking God’s presence, but when things are going well you say, “It’s been a long time since I’ve had a good day, I don’t know how to handle it.”
God shows us through the message of James, how we will act in our natural carnal man when tests and trials come. We will have those days, in the flesh, but God’s purpose is to bring us to a new dimension spiritually and enable us to mature and lack nothing. He wants to move us out of a flesh view to a heavenly view of life.
Time and space demand that we tap the brakes and pick this up in the next devotional.
God bless you richly as you press in and enter His presence on this beautiful day!