“Consider it all JOY, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, KNOWING that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And LET endurance
have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom let him ASK of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”- James 1:2-5
The story is told of a school teacher who had been teaching for over twenty years and who had applied for a job that would have meant promotion. He interviewed for the job and the interviewer happened to be a good friend, so things were looking up! After the assessment he found out he did not get the job and asked his friend why not. He appealed to the fact he had over twenty years of experience which should have qualified him easily for the position. To which his friend replied “you have one years experience repeated twenty times!” Ouch!! Faithful are the wounds of a friend!
How often we are like that teacher we are familiar and indeed can list the trials we have been through over the years but often mistake been in a trial as maturing through it. Maturity is not guaranteed because you have been in one. If that was the case we wouldn’t be doing so much moaning and groaning and been so difficult and un Christlike to live with all these years, now would we? So if we’re going to have trials-and we WILL, then, How then can we grow and change, to be more like the Lord Jesus in our thinking and behavior which is what God desires to bring about through these trials as well as putting Himself on display as the All Sufficient One who can meet keep and change a life to His glory through these things we hate namely T-R-I-A-L’S!
So let’s consider “How to know if you are maturing as a Christian?”, as we listen in to James in chapter 1 share with the people whom he wrote to, dear brethren, just like you and me whose hearts belonged to Him. Let’s consider…
4 commands in this passage, that is the maturing or Godly response to
1. COMMENCE REJOICING IMMEDIATELY:
Verse 2, he says, “Consider it all joy.” Commence rejoicing Immediately! It is a Command to do this immediately, not five minutes after the trial has begun. Not five days or five weeks later, but immediately commence rejoicing. It is a command to be obeyed and you have the capacity to obey because of the empowering Holy Spirit who indwells you, it is a choice. A choice of Loves. Love for Him or preoccupation with your or my self? Trials afford us the opportunity to express love to Him by obeying what He tells us to do. And He commands us to…Rejoice!!
True it is not natural to rejoice in a trial, it is supernatural! God given ability to chose to obey Him. How easy it is to rejoice and thank the Lord when the trial has passed and it is all over, how easy and indeed comforting it is to say “thank You Lord.” But that my friend is a missed opportunity to Glorify Him and to mature in your faith.
James uses the word “Count,” it is a financial term and it means “TO EVALUATE” Paul uses it in Phil 3. He evaluated his past achievements, his upbringing and in light of Jesus Christ he “counted it as dung.”
We must EVALUATE our trials in light of Gods Word. This is why the Christian can have Joy in the midst of trial’s and for the trial because we understand the ultimate goal, the outcome of the trial and so to chose to live for the things that matter most, His glory and our maturing through the gift of trials.
“Consider it all joy,” now one of the last things you want to do in a trial is to rejoice. But it’s a command here, and it’s an imperative. DO IT! And the way it literally means is to lead the way with joy. Immediately a trial comes, the first response is to lead the way with joy.
When I was a young boy, growing up I loved cowboy movies. And usually at the end of a cowboy movie, you might have a scene where someone was pinned down with gunfire and the wagon’s were surrounded, the situation looked hopeless. But then, in the background, the faintest of sounds would catch your attention….”dant-da-dant-da-da-da” Here they come, the boys in blue. Rescued, and out front was someone blowing a bugle. And the mature response to trial, the command here is to commence immediately rejoicing. Out front in the trial, is rejoicing in the Lord who is Lord over your trial.
And you can rejoice. Why? You know what He is doing. It’s not BEGIN to commence when the trial has gone by, that is immaturity. It’s not commence five minutes later; the spiritual individual who is maturing in obedience to the Word of God, out of expression of Love and Loyalty for the Lord Jesus, John 14:21;John 15:14 -immediately rejoices. And if that’s not where you’re at, that’s where the Lord wants to bring you to. And rejoicing is a command! It’s not optional in expressing
obedient love tot he Lord. You must Choose to rejoice. And you have that capacity if you’re a child of God.
What is He doing? Well, what does He want? He wants you to Number 1: rejoice. He follows with THREE COMMANDS why we can Rejoice!
2. We can Rejoice for the trial because we KNOW:
“KNOWING “- The second command Has to do with an Understanding Mind¦ .You are not to be ignorant in the trial. Verse 3, “knowing” Well, why would you rejoice? Because you know what God is doing. You say, “I don’t know what He’s doing.” Have you ever been driving down the highway and to the side of the road you see a sign with the words written on it “MEN AT WORK?” You know that up ahead there are men who are working on the road, you have just been informed. The government do not want you to be ignorant that is why they put the sign there so you know what is up ahead. So too God wants you to be informed and through James He shares with His people what is up ahead…T-R-I-A-L’S and He has revealed some of the purpose is them through James, ultimately the genuine of saving faith is being strengthened and you being matured.
You can rejoice in the trial because you know God is maturing you, if you respond correctly, He is building you up and strengthening you spiritually.
During my time as a pro soccer player, I remember doing two hour training sessions of non stop running exercises, carrying another player on my back … it was held in a national park… a beautiful place where tourists flocked. There was nothing beautiful about it to me, I was just concentrating on trying to get my next breath!!!! But in my first game I came off the bench and recognized the older pro whom I would be marking and he me, as we tried to cancel one another’s influence on the game out.
During a break in the game my opponent asked me to slow down and together take it easy. Why? Because I was flying, I was fit and strong and it was all due to responding to the coaches and following their advice during those painful days of pre season which were to get me to this place where I was fit and strong. So too God tells us why He is testing our faith to strengthen and develop us and one way He accomplishes this is through His “gymnasium” of T-R-I-A-L’S. We KNOW God is AT WORK to Develop Spiritual Character in our trials.
3. “LET” verse 4, “...And LET endurance,” that word “let” is a command, It speaks of a Surrendered will – Submission to God and His Word in your trials. It is ALLOWING GOD to accomplish His Work in us. Gods Goal for us is Maturity and spiritual Fruitfulness.
1 John 12-14 – Gives us a glimpse into three stages of spiritual maturity. John refers to these three stages as -children, young men, fathers The Scripture speaks of Maturing which speaks of change…towards Godly thinking and behavior….for example we can and are to…grow in Grace ¦ grow in our exercising and sacrificial expression of Biblical Love.. Abraham grew in faith according to Roams 4:20. – and in doing so GLORIFIED GOD- which is the Purpose of our Lives from Gods Perspective- Ish43:7;1 Cor 10:31.In 2 Peter 3:18 – Peter tells those believers the best way to handle false teaching is to “Grow in Grace and in Knowledge of our Lord Jesus. Growing in Faith, Growing in Grace, Growing in Knowledge all speak of SPIRITUALLY CHANGING. It speaks of DEVELOPING IN SPIRITUAL Maturity
And it begins with obedience to this COMMAND. LET- The emphasis is on a Submissive Will. SUBMIT TO GOD AND HIS REVEALED WILL WHICH FOR YOU IS FOUND IN HIS WORD.
- JESUS ON THE CROSS:
Jesus, when He was on the cross, and people passed by hurting abuse, they said, He can save others, He can’t save Himself. If you be the Son of God come down. Could He have come down? The Bible says He could have called for legions of angels. He could have come down, but if He came down and saved Himself, He couldn’t have saved us and fulfilled the Father’s purpose. He was letting the Father have His way in His circumstances. He had Surrendered and
was MAINTAINING that surrendered will to the will of His Father.
The Bible TELLS THE STORY of David and his men hiding in a cave. And the Scripture says that Saul came into the cave. And the men were encouraging him to take Saul out…hey, NOW’s your opportunity. But he wouldn’t touch the Lord’s anointed, why? He was letting God have His way; he knew he would be king because God had said so, but he was “letting” God chose the time to raise him up in God’s own time. David CHOSE to LET God have His way in His Time.C. MARY UPON HEARING THE NEWS that she had been chosen tocarry the Baby Jesus in her womb “BE IT DONE UNTO ME ACCORDING to They Word.” She was submitting to His Will for her. Was it a TRIAL ..YES!! It would mean misunderstanding at first between her and Joseph…it would include a stigma in society of being pregnant outside of marriage. Her character would have been maligned and slandered. But Mary would submit to Gods will for her life despite what it appeared to others, despite what it meant to her reputation in the sight of others. Mary’s JOY was found not in the opinions of others but in SUBMITTING TO THE WILL of God in her life.
D. IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE we see the Lord Jesus. His Preference “If this cup can pass¦” but note His Priority” Not My will Your Will be done, Father Glorify Thy Name.”
E. When the Lord confronted Saul on the road to Damascus… Acts 9.Saul knowing he was dealing with the Lord said, “What would You have me to do?” This is where his life began in SURRENDER of his will to the will of God. And dearly beloved as long as you and I like Saul are “kicking against the goats” we Will not experience joy in our trials, because we are opposing Gods will for us, which is to IMMEDIATELY COMMENCE REJOICING, KNOWING – WHICH SPEAKS OF AN UNDERSTANDING MIND – LET WHICH SPEAKS OF A SUBMISSIVE WILL – TO THE WILL OF GOD. How are you doing so far in your Trials. Are you Responding Gods Way?
4. ASK…The 4th command, “but if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ASK of God.”
What a Blessing. In times of trial and trouble we may come to Him. He has granted us Access to Him, to come to the Throne of Grace to receive Mercy and help in “time of need.” Oh beloved and not just to merely come and sit and hope you can have an audience with the King but He commands you to ask of Him and He even tells you what you should ask in case you do not know or are confused what to ask for…He says ask for wisdom? – WISDOM is the RIGHT USE
WHY ASK FOR WISDOM?
“We need wisdom so we will not waste the opportunities God is given us to MATURE.”’- Wisdom helps us understand how to use these circumstances for Gods glory and our spiritual development “In this context WISDOM IS understanding the Nature and purpose of the trials and knowing HOW TO meet them Victoriously
WHY wisdom? Because I need to know practically how I can appropriate the truth to glorify my God in the circumstances. God meets you in the AREA OF YOUR need. God makes Himself KNOWN to you. 1:7 “Who gives to all men liberally.”
TRIALS COME IN MANY SHAPES AND SIZES JAMES TELLS US:
“THE TRIALS OF MANY KINDS” V2 AND as one men wrote concerning these various types and sizes of trials. They are “Nothing less than Gigantic Opportunities TO BECOME WISE”-
But here in this passage God makes Himself known to you through SPECIFICALLY ANSWERING YOUR PRAYERS FOR WISDOM… BY GIVING YOU WISDOM…Wisdom is the ability to gather and apply His Word in your circumstances
We Learn from the Bible that God IMPARTS Wisdom through…
A. – GODS SON – Col 2:3 -“CHRIST…IN WHOM ARE hidden ALL the treasures of WISDOM and knowledge”
B. GOD CENTERED WORSHIP – Proverbs 1:7 tells us through Worship
C. GODS Word – Col 3:16 tells us through His Word
D. GODS PEOPLE – GODLY COUNCIL – Col 3:16
E. PRAYER – And here in James through Prayer- “ASK”- God commands us to ask Him EXPECTANTLY
WE ARE TO ASK …. EXPECTANTLY from God to receive wisdom, That He will SHOW you WHAT TO DO IN THE TRIAL YOU ARE IN…Specifically how you may Glorify Him and not waste the opportunities to GROW and Glorify Him.
God delights to answer PRAYERS; God does Answer Prayers- the purpose ultimately according to John 15:7-8 is for His Glory…to Put Himself on Display
Trials afford God the opportunity to make Himself known to us.
The response of the mature in trials, and where God wants to bring us is, number 1, immediately commence rejoicing. You must choose to rejoice in the Lord, who is Lord over your trials and you can rejoice, why? Because you are in the “know”You know what God is doing. You know God is developing you. Let Him have His way. Ask for wisdom when you don’t know what to do from the Word of God to apply to your situation that you may glorify Him.
TRIALS EXPRESS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW LOVE TO GOD
James 1:12- “Blessed”- in verse 12 James shares that the one who perseveres will receive the crown of life to those who – LOVE HIM. How do you persevere? By obeying the four commands Given as noted above. And in doing so you express Love to Him as you make the CHOICE to Obey Him, for remember the Lord Jesus’ words in John 14:21″ He who has My commandments and obeys them he it is who LOVES ME…”…So our OBEDIENCE is an EXPRESSION of Love to Him. So in the trial you are presently in – as hard, and as unfair as it seems to be- YOU HAVE THE AWESOME PRIVILEGE to EXPRESS LOVE TO GOD by choosing to VALUE HIM ENOUGH to LOVE HIM…WHICH you do when you CHOSE to…OBEY HIM…because He first Loved you.
Dearly Beloved, I do not know your need. Indeed as I write, several of you and letters you have sent to me asking for prayer come to mind. Some of you are going through real struggles and God knows and He cares and what a blessing and encouragement you will be to others as you come through this, not somehow but Triumphantly. Remember “Today’s Trials are Tomorrow’s Testimonies.” And may we all have testimonies which have honored Him as we chose to express love to Him by:
As we by faith, trust and follow God’s Word, IN how TO RESPOND TO TRIALS WE WILL GROW…WE WILL MATURE …WE WILL EXPRESS LOVE TO GOD which after all is the FIRST AND GREATEST COMMANDMENT – The Lord Jesus says – Matthew 22:37 and we will be unlike the schoolteacher mentioned at the beginning, who had the same experience repeated 20 times who never learned or matured though it….
SO HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE MATURING AS A CHRISTIAN?
One way is to evaluate your response to trials
1. Do you Immediately Rejoice. Is your Rejoicing contingent on your circumstances or are you pre occupied with expressing Love to the Christ who is Lord over your circumstances by choosing to rejoice.
2. Do you act and live and respond as if you do not KNOW what is happening or do you live in light of the fact you KNOW what is happening? God is at work.
3. Do you Submit your will to Him for His glory and purpose to be carried out in the trial. Or are you fighting and fussing?
4. Are you searching His Word and applying His wisdom for you in these trial?
Your response will show you a good indication of where you are in regards spiritual MATURITY … the Trials help to reveal the truth to us of what GOD already knows. YOU are Loved, you are precious and you are on Display … an epistle read by all men….
How do you know if you are Maturing as a Christian? Examine your response to your trials. Are you choosing to Obey His 4 Commands?
If you have not been- Confess it as sin and He is faithful to forgive and cleanse you- 1 John 1:9…and now CHOSE to EXPRESS Love to Him…in the Midst of this your trial…PRAISE GOD for you… keep going…keep glorifying god. Though you do it through prayers Great will be your reward.
THOUGHT TO PONDER:
In closing have you ever considered when God said to satan “Have you considered my servant Job?” Now Job went through some horrendous suffering and heart break didn’t he? Yet we see God was bragging on Job- holding him up as a testimony. And in the unseen world they knew of Job. Could it be like Job you too are being held up, to be considered?
And dear beloved as you continue to respond Gods Way to trails you are Glorifying Him
PRAY FOR US,