2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Continuing the study of this short passage. Let’s look more about what this passage teaches about God because it is only if you get this part right that you can understand the rest of the passage.
Understanding this passage requires several beliefs about God.
First – God must exist. If God doesn’t exist, this passage makes no sense. Enjoy life to it’s fullest and die! That’s all there is.
Second, God must be active and involved with us. This passage implies that God is actively doing something in our lives. Romans 8:28, which many people quote but few understand states, 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
God WORKS in all things for the good OF THOSE WHO LOVE HIM, and for THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN CALLED according to his purpose.
So before we can begin counting trials as pure joy, we need to ask ourselves 2 questions. 1) Do I love God? That is, do I love God by the Bible’s standards, not by my standards. John 14:15, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” If you are not even trying to be obedient to Christ, you don’t love him regardless of how much you pray or sing or worship. Luke 6:46 – Jesus says, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say?” Above all else, loving God is receiving the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for your salvation.
2) Am I called according to his purpose? The first question is taken from a human viewpoint. The second question is taken from the divine point of view. Salvation is not simply a matter of what you decide. Unless God acts, you will never respond.
Back to the passage from James. Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds. James writes this reminding his readers that 1) God is in charge and they belong to God through the death of His son, Jesus Christ. And according to Romans 8:32, God is looking out for our best. 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
When I know that a loving, supremely wise, Father is sending me something, I have to assume that it is something good – if I can just look at it with the right vision.
There is a story about a little boy that was a great optimists. His parents wanted him to calm down a bit so for Christmas, they only gave him one present: a box of horse manure. However when we opened the box and saw the manure, he got up and started running around house, crying with great excitement, “I got a horse for Christmas!!!!!”
That is us – when we view trials as coming from the hand of our loving heavenly Father!