James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing through Trials & Temptations

James 1:2-18

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Trials will come, count it all Joy.

Today you may be in the space between.  The, life happening, everyday normal stuff   place, between trial and tranquility, but trials will come.  Divorce, a loss of a parent or child, cancer, bankruptcy, infidelity. Maybe is not so obvious a trial you are facing, student loan, challenging pregnancy, unexplained food sensitivities, ungracious boss or coworkers, potty training or any of the other million little things that pile up as the days and weeks become months and years.  Life marches on and trials are a part of life.

This isn’t a warning or a threat, just a fact, just the reality of living in a fallen world.

And to make matters more complicated the Christian life is marked by trials because following Christ has a cost and Satan is going to try and collect.  He is going to do every little thing he can to make you stumble and fall.  Im not talking epic trauma necessarily, but changed hearts bleed sweat and tears. Repentance takes humility and dyeing to self and giving the grace we receive at the cross.  To be moved by the spirit means to be moved to generosity and surrender and that is the holy work of life with Christ at the helm. That is the hard labour of fighting for Joy in a broken world.

We all want to walk on water but once you get out of the boat you will be in the deep end.  So get ready to swim hard and when you get tired, when you think your about to sink that is when the Joy is found in the suffering.   That is when we have that outstretched, grasped hand, moment, in the mists of the waves.  That is when suffering meets spiritual growth and when the gospel is received and fulfilled.

We are to stand firm and remember that when trials come its not about focusing on the “unfair” but about the growing of our relationship with Christ and others.

In the passage above it seems like James is talking to the haughty and the prideful and giving them a reality check.  Like a sneak peek down the path of pride, and it isn’t pretty.  But in reality it is a message to us all.  We are all self centred and in need of a good dose of humility.  I get entitled and impatient, I hate to show my weakness and only like to pose for those to see my good side.  I am the Prideful and it gives me plenty to suffer over and grow from.

Don’t be blind to your own potential for struggle and suffering. To assume that life is just going to be a breeze will only set you up for disappointment.  But seek wisdom and ask God for it.  He is on our side for His glory.  Don’t forget that God is good in the mists of your struggle.

James hammers home the words “Trials” “Perseverance” and “Gives Birth”.  He is urging us towards wisdom and patience and focus in our struggle, not on our struggle.  Just like a woman growing a baby for 9 months, you know its hard work and we know you need to tell us all about it.  But weather you loved pregnancy or you hated it, no one stays pregnant forever.  Perseverance will give birth or your trial will take over.

Dont sink into your trial or it will rob you of the wisdom gained in the journey.  James is encouraging us to keep our eyes on Christ, so when the day of trial comes we will be fixed on the One with the answers.

Just like the wonder of nature follows the plow, also the promised Joy is found, after the struggle. We can see it in the reflection of His perfect prevision, as we recognize our deep need for our saviour, and His deep love for His Children.

 

 

 

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