Paul's Passing Thoughts

Biblical Thinking Leads to Joy in the Midst of Trials: James 1:2-4,13,14

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 9, 2009

“But we must remember, the God who bestows the same blessings on the just and the unjust, may also shower us with the same trials as well.”

I don’t know about you, but I like it both ways. I want life to go my way down here and then retire to Heaven. Hey, I’m not asking for much, cat’s have 9 lives, I only want 2. Trials are annoying, disruptive, inconvenient, and downright painful. Wouldn’t you agree with that? I hope not. If you agree with that, you are well on your way to adding more misery to your life.

James begins with the word “consider” (Ecc. 7:14), or as some commentators note: “evaluate.” The first thing you must employ in a trial is biblical reason. Emotion will be there, but it must take a back seat to reason. Specifically, biblical reason. Verses 13 and 14 (of chapter 1) used to perplex me in James’  line of thinking here and I confess that I do not entirely understand all of the implications in regard to trials, but I’m on safe ground in regard to the following: (“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire”) In the beginning and midst of a trial, we will be tempted. This is clearly the context of verses 13 and 14. How will we be tempted? By desire. Whatever meaning you want to attach to desire here, the following cannot be refuted; our desires produce thoughts, and it’s not our “desire” to be in a trial. Let the warfare commence, the mind of Christ verses desire. Desire and emotions produce thoughts that “lure” us away from right thinking that leads to stability and right doing. This can clearly be seen when Satan approached Eve to do warfare with her. His goal was to change her thinking and appeal to desire. Obviously. Be sure of this, when you are in a trial, philosophies contrary to God’s word will come knocking and desire will be there waiting to help. The source of the desires James is speaking of is the “flesh” (Eph 2:3, Ro 13:14, Ga 5:16 Ga 5:17 Ga 5:24).

If you are looking to James for some deep and philosophical knowledge in regard to why bad things happen to good people, you have come to the wrong place. I can’t wait to meet James because he is a nuts and bolts guy. The last thing we need when we are in a trial is a long in-depth course in philosophy. The trials of life are no time to be figuring things out, James shows the way in no uncertain terms. Please hear me, when a friend is in a trail, do not take him, or her, a stinking book written by some big name theologian. Do your job, go to them with the mind of Christ and his compassion.

Our first thought when we find ourselves in a trial needs to be the following: “this is a good thing” (consider it ALL joy). James cushions his direct style with, “my brothers.”  Before we get into the specific reason for joy stated by James, let me interject some other scripture that speaks to the why we should be thankful and joyful for trials: It is proof positive that God is working in our lives.

“If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons” (Heb 12:8).

Though this verse speaks of reproof, a reading of this verse in context reveals the very close relationship between discipline and trials (Heb 12:3-17). God is completely sovereign and always has a specific purpose in bringing events into the lives of believers and even unbelievers (Matt 5:45 1Thess 5:18 Pro 16:9). Trials exhibit God’s care for us and indicate that we belong to him. It also indicates the very working hands of God in our life. That is why 1Thess 5:18 tells us that we can be thankful in “every circumstance.” Furthermore, trials lead to comfort that equips us to help others have comfort (2Cor 1:3-7). Therefore, trials have yet another purpose of training us in order to help others.

James also cites the specific benefit of developed perseverance or steadfastness. Apparently, growing in perseverance facilitates growth in all area’s of life (“perfect and complete, lacking nothing”). There are many other elements of trials that could be gleaned but the point is this: pondering the various truths concerning what God is up to in trials should give us hope, joy, peace and assurance.

However, don’t miss what James says about being caught off guard. He says trials are of “various kinds.” Often, trials are not what we expect. Trials often come in a form or type that we would never dream could happen to us. Peter put it this way: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4;12). What kind of trial could happen to me? Anything. Usually, Christians can be caught off guard by the severity of the trial (“fiery”). But we must remember, the God who bestows the same blessings on the just and the unjust, may also shower us with the same trials as well (Matt. 5:4,5  Ecc. 7:14). Being dazed and confused is not helpful in regard to sound, Christlike  thinking. Sometimes, clarifying this reality is where you might have to begin.

paul

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