Consider It All Joy

James 1:2-4 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (NASB)

It is hard to grasp the concept of “consider it all joy when you encounter various trials.” To be perfectly honest, I do not know anyone who cheers to the idea of undergoing persecution. The word translated “trials” signifies affliction, persecution, or trial of any kind. Another thing to note is that James said “when”, not “if”. Other renderings of verse 2 (such as KJV, NKJV) uses the word “fall” instead of “encounter”. So, the idea here is not necessarily going in “step by step” into trials, but it is saying that when we are so surrounded that there is no escaping them (trials). Think about how frustrating these types of situations are when you are going through them. Many of us usually go into a “fight or flight” mode because we begin to believe that there is ”no end in sight” in the suffering.

Yet, God tells us that in the testing of our faith produces patience (endurance). I believe using the word endurance makes it easier to understand what is meant here. When we tell our children to “be patient”, what are we wanting them to do? We want them to calm down, be quiet, sit still. The word is not passive waiting. A better way to view this word is the idea of having a quality that helps one finish a marathon. Having a frame of mind that endures. This kind of patience is one that many struggle with. Even in the prime of my life when I was playing sports, the idea of running a marathon never sat well with me. I was never known as a long-distance runner. I had to change my mindset and attitude because life is a marathon.

What we must also realize is that faith is tested through trials, not produced by trials. “Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience (endurance).” These trials will reveal what kind of faith we have. It is so that our faith will be evident to not just ourselves, but also to those around us. This exhortation that we have received from James in “count it all joy”, this is our faith’s response to times of trial.

Notice the language of James in verse 4. He uses the idea of being perfect, complete, and lacking nothing. Wow! This is what we need to be reminding ourselves of when we begin to feel discouraged. God, in his infinite wisdom, tells us that we can overcome our trials. I do not care about what man says about the subject. If it is revealed that we can be perfect, complete, and lacking nothing, then that is all I need to hear! Our endurance during trials will cause us to no longer be spiritually deficient. So, when a trial appears in our life, what is our response? Do we simply throw in the towel and give up? Or do we remind ourselves that we are a changed person? That we no longer walk and live in the flesh!

Romans 8:12-14 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh – for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you, but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

This is not God telling us that the way of escape will be easy. Remember the thought about building up endurance? It is not an easy task! This promise is based on our capability to rely on God, not if we will rely on ourselves. We are not forced to take the “way of escape.” The “way of escape” is not necessarily relief either. For many, that “relief” would simply be giving in to the temptation and saying that they will never do it again. Everyone says this when they are confronted with a problem. The hope is that they are true to their word so that as their faith produces patience, they will lack in nothing. However, giving in to the temptation, saying that you won’t do it again, and then doing it again, is no longer a mistake. That is a choice that will follow you until you repent of it.

2 Peter 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

There is no need to feel discouraged. If you do, remember that all of us will be tested in some way. God’s revealed word gives us the knowledge of ridding ourselves of sin. It teaches us how to overcome sin. Jesus had to deal with temptation and sin. Remember when Jesus was tested? When the tempter went to Jesus after he fasted for forty days and forty nights? Jesus understands. He kept his focus on doing the will of His Father. We too, should have the same attitude. Keep your eyes on Jesus and allow God to work in your life. Allow yourself to be made perfect, complete, and lacking in nothing. All the while, glorifying God!

-Lee Elkins