Sunday, October 4, 2009

Perspectives & Reminders From James Chapter 1 (Part 1)

I think we will need a perspective adjustment if we want to obey James' admonition to "Consider it all joy when you fall into various temptations/trials." Other versions of this verse tell us not only to consider our trials "joy" but "pure joy" and the New American Standard Version goes even further by saying "nothing but joy". Excuse me? "Nothing but joy".
Why would anyone consider trials nothing but joy? We do want to be mature and complete, lacking nothing, don't we? Well, how do you suppose are are going to get from babyhood to maturity? Yes, according to verse 3 we are going to get there via our trials and tests. When these trials test our faith, (the Lamsa version even calls them "the trial of faith") we are going to have an opportunity to take the test and either pass or fail. If we pass, we will build on our endurance. If we fail, well, my theory is we will keep getting the same test until we pass!

This whole concept reminds me of a great C.S. Lewis quote I read 15 years ago. Will we or will we not do the right things when we are tempted or tested?

Every obedience to His prompting is as C.S. Lewis said,
"the capture of a strategic point from which a few months later you may be able
to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in
lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from
which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible."

Basically, Lewis is saying that by obeying we are setting ourselves up for future success.

How can we pass the tests and trials of life? Enter the reminder:

Verse 5 tells us if we lack wisdom we should ask God for some. Why is it that we over think or fret when all we have to do is ask God for wisdom? He will give us a generous amount of wisdom and not think we are weak or dumb having to ask for it.

There is a small catch. When we ask, we are to ask not doubting because as verse 7 says, "the person who doubts should expect nothing from the Lord." In fact, according to James, doubters are double minded and double minded people are unstable in all ways. (verse 8)

There will be more about wisdom from James in Chapter 3. For today I will just summarize these first eight verses from James 1:

  • Count your trials as nothing but joy.
  • You need these trials to become mature in Christ.
  • By obeying you get more endurance which prepares you for the next trial.
  • If you don't know how to respond to the trial or test, ask God to give you wisdom.
  • But once you ask, don't doubt because that just sets you up for instability.

Note the words in red italics. Strong stuff!


  1. Even after almost 35 years of striving to walk the walk I fear there are few times when I considered any kind of "trial" to be a "joy". Maybe some day...

  2. I don't know if I ever think it a joy. But I usually don't get mad and frustrated. Maybe that is a start. Plus maybe if I meditate on it being "nothing but joy", I will begin to really see the truth about them!

  3. Karen, I like the comments in this blog, especially the summary. It definitely will take self-discipline to REMEMBER to think this way (nothing but joy) when a difficulty comes up - and they DO come up.
    I didn't ever link asking for wisdom, with counting it all joy. I separated the two thoughts as not being related. That is a new concept that I'll try to remember.
    On to James 2! I may not have as much time, since I'm doing my Seeking God study (5 days' worth) this week before we meet on Oct. 12.

  4. Thanks Linda! You know what? I never connected the two until I did the over and over again type reading in different versions. I am so happy about this new way of reading the Bible. Everyone has to find a way that "works" for them and this is my way. :) I began James 2 today with questions about verses 9-12 and of course verse 18. But the week is young and I am sure more clarity will come.

  5. I'm thinking that if I were able to focus on what Christ did as He faced the cross, that I'd be able to handle "trials" wit ha much better attitude. As I recall, He set His sights on the end results rather than the immediate situations. At least in Heb. 12:2, it was the anticipated "joy" that Christ was focused on as He faced the cross. I wonder if it can be said that Jesus wasn't all that joyful at the cross then!?