Brighton Church of Christ
Counting Trials All Joy
One of the great teachings in the book of James concerns how to deal with trials and temptations. No doubt trials of all sorts befall the child of God. But he must have a positive attitude for his Christian life to go on.
I am sure we all admit that trials and temptations are common to all men. Job said, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.” (Job 14:1) Christians are not exempted from trouble. Suffering, including illness, may come upon us and we do not know how to cope. Love for money and other material things exclusively can be a problem. Luke said that we can be “choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14). Sometimes trials come in the form of persecution at the hands of those in authority (James 5:1-6) or suffering from our commitment to serve the Lord (1 Peter 4:16).
So, James advocates that the best way to deal with those unpleasant moments of life is to respond with joy. He said, “count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” The idea is that Christians need to see adversities as ground of rejoicing. He was not instructing them to enjoy hardship. Nobody in their right mind loves suffering. James rather meant that adverse circumstances provide us the opportunity to have our faith tested and be evaluated as to whether it is growing or not.
Spiritual tests help us move a level up in our trust in God until we have complete faith. That's what James meant by the word “perfect” when he said, “let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:4). This is the principle of resistance at work in the spiritual realm. I illustrate it this way. When an athlete lifts weights, he exerts a force that goes up while the weight pulls down. The tension on the muscle created by the two opposing forces causes it to bulge and grow in volume.
Trials and temptations constitute tests of faith even though there is a difference between the two terms. Trials usually are permitted by God to help us learn how to get steadfast; they are in that sense a reality woven in the fabric of life. Temptations are put in our way by Satan to cause us to stumble; the temptation of Jesus by the devil is a case in point (cf. Luke 4:1-8). But the term "trials" is often used to refer to both types of difficulty. Anyhow, they lead the child of God on to spiritual maturity. Then not only does James teach us to count it all joy when face trials, but he also instructs that we endure them with patience and perseverance however grievous they may appear. These are essential changes God expects to see in the alien sinner who has turned to Him and become His child.
Since faith is at the heart of the relationship between Christians and God, it must be built up in each one of them. However, bitter conditions in the life of a Christian can cause them to turn away from God and be tempted to go back to the world in search for a solution. James warned that a person that behaves that way will not “receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:7). He did not mean God is unwilling to bless him. What he meant was that such individual will not be committed enough to stay connected to God and receive His blessings which are obtain by virtue of connection to Him. It is important in the sight of God that we demonstrate unwavering faith in Him in the face of adversity.