Rejoice through trials! Really? But why, you ask? If we look into the heart of the Book of James, we will discover the answer. Just who was James, anyway, and why does he have the authority to tell us?
Central Figures names James in the Bible.
There are two central figures in the Bible named James. One we know a lot more about and he is the brother of John. They were the Sons of Zebedee, or the “Sons of Thunder.” They were some of Jesus’ closest companions, and this James was martyred by Herod in the early 1st Century.
Then there is James the Just or James the Righteous, the oldest brother of the Jesus. Not until the resurrection of Christ did James the Just believe his brother was his Lord. His rose to importance, becoming the leader of the Christian church in Jerusalem. He was a pious man. So pious, in fact, that record holds that his knees were so swollen with skin like camels from all of the time he spent in prayer.
James the New Testament Author
James’ faith held all through persecutions and danger and in 62 AD he was martyred by stoning, but not before he authored the letter to the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. His writing style is straight to the point, but also full of allegories, more than any other New Testament writer. The Book of James holds such intensity that within the 108 verses come 54 commands!
James references more books in the Bible than any other New Testament author, including 21 books. He draws inspiration from the Ten Commandments, the prophets, Job, Kings, Joshua, the Pentateuch, Abraham, Rahab, amongst others. In fact, the Book of James parallels the Sermon on the Mount.
Both the Book of James and the Sermon on the Mount show how faith and love should be exposed. Hardship, perseverance, and wisdom are the central themes in James. When he speaks of trials, he doesn’t use the verbiage “if” trials happen, but “when” the trials happen. I spoke of these and covered this teaching in my last Forum during the week. With every person present, there was not one of us without a trial.
It would be a misnomer to teach that James is telling us to be bubbly and cheerful, without sorrow, during our trials. He is not. But what he is saying is hold your peace and look beyond the circumstance to see what outcome it will bring for the child of God, whatever the trial may be. Here lies the biggest bonus.
The Benefit of Trials
James teaches that hardships produce perseverance, which in turn produces wisdom. We know from Proverbs that wisdom is to be sought after and prized more than wealth and riches. Here we learn that money is a shelter, but so is wisdom, plus wisdom yields an outcome not only in this life, but in the life to come.
James backs the importance of wisdom, encouraging those who lack it to ask God for it! How unbelievable! All we have to do is ask. We must keep in mind, though, how we acquire wisdom. Through trials and hardships. We can learn through James that the first place we go when we want and need something is to God.
Through other books of the Bible, I Corinthians, Ephesians, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Colossians and Proverbs we learn that wisdom can be attained also through the Holy Spirit, with fear of the Lord, from listening to wise people, from discipline, from admonishing one another and from research and education.
Wisdom with a Warning
Just to recap, we will all have trials. These trials will produce perseverance and give us depth and staying power, which in turn will ignite a growth in wisdom. James then rightly teaches us that we must trust God through these trials and not doubt that God is growing us and working everything for the good. Everything!
I know from experience that sometimes our challenges are so hard, and life is full of such sorrow and we feel so much in the dark and alone that it is hard not to doubt. But ask yourself this, if you lost everything you owned and all of the money in your bank account, what would you have left?
This is the degree of your wealth.
Trials or Temptations
There is one other key topic I want to bring up regarding trials. How do we know if what we are faced with is a trial or a temptation? Well, would God entice you? Would He attract you to evil? Temptations emerge from evil desires within us. The evil thought is expressed by an evil action. Satan is the tempter and God allows Him to tempt us in order to refine us. This grows our dependence on Christ.
So temptations may come from within us and from Satan. They also can arise through other people. Have you ever heard that keeping bad company can corrupt your good morals? It is true. You might be surprised to know that temptations can also arise by taking the easy way out, so records Matthew, and from selfish pride, persecution and from riches.
How can we overcome temptation? Don’t walk alone. Read the Bible to know the word of God. This is how Jesus did it! Look to the Bible for strength. Pray and call upon the Lord. Realize that God is watching you and His Son is right beside you and within you. He will divvy out a salary to you according to your deeds! Pray for wisdom. Don’t be angry with God when trials come. Wisdom awaits you!
Written by Jori Sams
Jori Sams is a Christian author and freelance writer with nearly 2000 published pieces on the Internet, with over 1500 being published by Yahoo. Her books are published through Writeious Books. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her following the sun…