Read James 1:2-18
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
9The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.
12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
13When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
16Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (NIV)
James is a book about how to practically live out our faith as opposed to giving high theological stances. But he does to explain the why also. He begins with answering a question as to why am I having to deal with certain issues. The King James translates them temptations. The NIV translates them trials. The Greek word is “peirasmos” (pi-ras-mos') which has a literal meaning of a putting to proof, an experiment, a test if you will. James reminds us that God constantly allows testing of our faith so that our faith can mature. James tells us that we should not be surprised that God wants us to grow in our faith and mature. This is what any parent wants for their child and why we allow our children to struggle at times.
James then talks about having the wisdom to understand these kinds of things. He points out that God is all the more eager to give us wisdom, but we must ask in faith and believe that it will happen. Many theologians believe that we don’t receive all we ask of God because we really don’t believe God will grant it. We must in our hearts believe that the request will be granted. But God does delay in the answer because God wants us to learn perseverance because that is one of the ways we grow in faith. James also says that those who persevere will receive life which is promised to all who love God.
In verse 9, James talks about how Christian faith brings good to both the poor person and the rich person. For the poor and humble, a true sense of his or her own true value. They are shown that they do matter even as the world tells them they don’t. And to the rich person, Christianity remind us that wealth can give us a false sense of security and will not bring about the eternal life we truly want. James wants the reader to know that life is very uncertain and the things of this world cannot always be counted on, but the things of heaven will always last and will never change.
James then reminds us that God does not tempt us. Temptations arise naturally as we live this life and we learnt to struggle with our own decisions. He reminds us that temptation that leads to failure always begins as a thought. Our thought can lead is in many directions, both good and bad.
What is your view on trials and temptations in life? Do you blame God for them or do you see them as ways we grow in life? Have you ever grown in your faith by persevering through a difficult time? What do you do to stand through a trial?
Blessings and Peace