Joy that greets our trials
James begins this letter describing the critical role temptation and trial play in the process we experience on the road toward spiritual maturity. James' description reveals that the trials and testing we must go through has the potential to bring us to greater patience, wisdom, and faith (v. 1-8).
Every aspect of our life in Christ will in some way be tested. It is only in this process that we are able to come face to face with the truth about ourselves. This examination of who we really are positions us to realistically uncover where Christ's new life has transformed us and where our fallen nature remains a ruling force.
In some ways, it's like testing a newly built bridge. It's vital to know if it has been proven strong enough to support the trucks and cars that will drive over it. In a similar way, our spiritual lives must be thoroughly tested. Are we as spiritually strong as we think we are? Are we really ready for the life we say we want? Many people say they want God to give them great marriages, great relationships, victory over sin, successful jobs, and fruitful ministry. But, the fact is, many times we are ill prepared to be the person such blessings will demand that we be. Without a transformation of our character, the real-world fact is we can become a destructive force spoiling what was intended to be a great blessing.
The fact is, it is only what is in us that will come out of us. Trials reveal what that is. When we are forced to face our weakness, it can become the turning point that enables us to exchange our manifested weakness for the abundant riches of Christ's life birthed within us. James promises the potential result from these trials to perfect patience within us that will leave us "lacking nothing" (v. 4). Along with a new and mature patience that we bring to life's countless difficulties we also are given the priceless value of wisdom. This God-given wisdom will in turn be translated into success as we respond to the trials and temptations that are as much a part of life as the air we breathe (v. 5).
The result of these trials and temptations is faith in God that fearlessly takes ownership of the abundant promises of God (v. 6-8). But, of course, the alternative is also true. If our trials and temptations are not faced with the strengthening, transforming work of Christ within us, we could end up with nothing but defeat and unbelief. When unbelief gets you under its grasp, the temptations that expose our sin and weakness will throw us into a pit of hopeless despair. The end result of that is spiritual destruction. We alone are responsible for the path we choose. We must take personal responsibility for the results (v. 12-16). When the thief of unbelief robs us of our hope of discovering the glory that is possible by faith in who we are in Christ, we become like a man who, having looked in the mirror, soon forgets what he looks like once he has turned his back to the mirror.
The lesson we are left with is clear. Trials and temptations will hit us all, but how we approach them will determine whether we are transformed or destroyed by them. Therefore, let us come with bold and joyful expectation that a harvest of great fruit is possible when faith meets the furnace of affliction that tries our souls (v. 2).
-Calvary Church Boise
Created almost 2 years ago