Joy in Trials Sermon, James 1:2-4

“Joy in Trial,” James 1:2-4
Dealing with Disappointment

An unbeliever once read the story of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. As he pondered it, he said: “There is a Man who not only suffered, but who knew how to use His suffering.” This is the aim of patience. Let her have a perfect work, James 1:4 says. What does he really mean by that? The word translated “work” here is the Greek ergon which indicates that endurance should be active, not passive. James wants to correct a great misapprehension about the word, “patience.”

“Patience” means “to bear under.” It gives the picture of someone who is under a terrific load. James is saying, as you are bearing that terrific load, don’t remain stationary; move about, exercise your energy. There should be no passive endurance in the Christian life. The Christian should be vigorous, energetic, active, and in spite of the burdens of life he is carrying, he should move forward to the goal that is set before him. 

Patience isn’t passive. (CIS)

1. (1:2) Trials – Temptation: the fact is certain – we will have many trials and temptations. The Greek word used for temptations or trials throughout James means: to tempt; to try; to test; to prove. This is the common word used in the NT and it packs much meaning: tempt, test, to try, prove.

That is, the temptations and trials of life are to prove us: they are for a beneficial purpose; they are permitted by God for a good purpose. They make us stronger. They are opportunities to grow; to become Christ-like.

Greek scholar A.T. Robertson says, “It is the picture of being surrounded (peri) by trials" (Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol. 6, p.11). The idea is that of many trials and temptations, of all sorts and of all kinds of temptations and trials. But no matter what the trial or temptation, it is for our good and for our benefit. It is to help us. It is to prove us—to make us stronger and much more pure and righteous—to make us much more dynamic witnesses for Christ. It produces Christlikeness in the long run.

Illustration: Sebastian cutting grass. Hansel’s recycling business…   

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV84)

2. (1:2-4) Trials – Temptations – Joy: the attitude needed to face the trials and temptations of life is startlingly simple – joy. We are to face trial and temptation with a spirit of joy. How is this possible? How can a believer be joyful in the face of disease, accidents, pain, sorrows, disappointments, suffering, pain, and death; or the seductions of temptations?

You say, “You’re crazy! How can I have joy in trials?!” Maybe. But who’s crazier, the man who suffers sufferingly or the man who’s learned to suffer well in Christ? We have to change our thought life; the way we think!

We must know something: know that trials and temptations work patience (James 1:3). We must know that trials and temptations are not to defeat and discourage us, but to prove us, to make us much stronger and more pure and righteous. God allows them to make us stronger, not weaker.

We have to start with God’s glory, not our comfort, in trials and temptations. We must commit our soul to God. [Bunyan: page 33]

We must do something: we must let patience work within us. God at work.  
Patience means to be steadfast. It is the active trusting of God in times of trail. It isn’t passive. It is standing upon the promises of God, pushing back against the winds that seek to blow us down and off of His truth.

The Christian life is a life of action. Standing firm on the promises of God is active, not passive. It is holding the shield of faith to redirect the winds of trial and temptation. That takes strength to push, to stand; it is active!

When we look at trials and temptations as opportunities, then we will begin to face them in joy; seeing purpose in them. And when we persevere and conquer them, we will begin to walk through them in the joy of the Lord.

3. (1:4) Trials— Temptations— Endurance: the results of facing trials and temptations can be wonderful. A most wonderful thing happens when a person perseveres and conquers the trials and temptations of life. A person becomes more perfect. That is, perfection of purpose. It has to do with an end, an aim, a goal, a purpose. It means fit, mature, fully grown at a particular stage of growth. We move from immaturity to maturity.

Passing through trials perfects the purpose God intended. Our focus on God’s glory becomes more clearly seen in us and for us. Passing through trials makes our faith more robust, more complete. Complete. Those trails are training for future opportunities for service. It also exposes weaknesses in our faith that we can then address. Bible knowledge, prayer, etc.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

Burdens aren’t unforeseen by God. Joy in trial is a real possibility. We just have to know something: God is at work. We have to do something: Give ourselves over to God’s ultimate aim in our lives – to mold us into the image of Jesus! Joseph Lincoln said, “Funny thing how trouble acts different on people: it's like hot weather – sours milk but sweetens apples.” Which will you choose to be? Remember, patience isn’t passive. Know and Do! Amen.

[1] The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible – Hebrew, James.
[2] Advice to Sufferers, John Bunyan, American Baptist Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1853.