Before getting into the study, I thought a little context might help.
Who was James?
- James was the ‘half-brother’ of Jesus.
- He was not a believer (John 7:3–5) until after the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7).
- He was seen as a pillar of the church (Galatians 2:9) and went on to be the leader of the Jerusalem church.
- The book of James was believed to be the oldest book written in the New Testament.
Now imagine for a minute that you grew up with Jesus as your older brother. Can you picture having a perfect sibling? No faults, never disobedient and never doing anything wrong. That would set quite the standard for the rest of the kids.
John 7:3-5 shows us that Jesus’ brothers didn’t believe in him. These would have been the same brothers who grew up with him. They would have been around Jesus more than most of the people throughout his life. If Jesus died around 33 years old, he probably spent more time with his brothers than he did with his own disciples.
I can barely imagine the conversation and interaction that would have happened when Jesus appeared to James after the cross. From thinking your brother is crazy and got Himself crucified to seeing Him, resurrected, with holes in His hands. I can barely fathom it.
In James 1:1, he even starts this letter by calling himself a “servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” From unbelieving brother to calling himself a servant to that same brother (to Jesus).
What is a trial?
What is a trial? I know when I heard the word trial, I immediately think of a courtroom. A trial is a test. How do you know if something works? You test it. It’s a similar concept here.
God uses trials to test us. To see what we put our faith in and to produce endurance for future trials (1 Peter 1:7).
What is your normal reaction to a trial?
Do you look for the quickest way out?
Do you get angry?
Do you ask ‘why?’
Are you joyful?
The second verse of this letter says, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials.” Great joy. Imagine having a spouse cheat on you. Or your parents dying. Maybe these things already happened to you. Can you say you’re joyful about these? With an honest heart, can you tell God “thank you”?
What’s the purpose of a trial? Is it to tell God thank you for these hard circumstances? Not exactly. James 1:3 gives us some insight.
“because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” – James 1:3
Reason for trials
That is the reason for trials. It’s to test your faith, to see where your faith truly is. It’s to produce endurance. So that when bigger, harder trials comes your way, you can thank God that He helped you through it. That coming out of a difficult time helps build your character. To make you more like Jesus. As verse 4 puts it, “And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”
As Peter put it, “…to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7).
3 Steps to help you with different trials
- Never blame God for your fleshly desires (James 1:13-14).
The verses explain this one pretty well. No one should ever say they are being tempted by God. Each person is tempted by their own desires of the flesh.
Trials come in many shapes and sizes. God wants to see who is on the throne of your life and see what you really desire.
- Pray, pray and then pray some more
No one can every pray enough. Even Jesus prayed and He is God. Jesus prayed to the Father for Himself (John 17:1-5), His disciples (John 17:6-19), and all believers (John 17:20-26). Did you know the Holy Spirit prays for you? (Romans 8:26). If Jesus and the Holy Spirit pray, why do so many of us overlook prayer so often? How else would we ask God for wisdom except through prayer? Look at verse 5:
“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him.” – James 1:5
If you are struggling, ask God for wisdom! If you are in the midst of a trial and need guidance, ask for it in faith. James continues with: “6 But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord, 8 being double-minded and unstable in all his ways.”
Philippians 4:6 doesn’t say ‘in anxiety and silence try to scheme your way out.’ It says:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – Philippians 4:6
Proverbs 2:3-6 is a just small section out of Solomon’s words about wisdom and the importance of it. So pray to God, ask for wisdom and draw near to him.
- Stick to God’s Word
If prayer is your voice to God, then God’s Word is His voice back to you. Since the Bible has such an importance on the power of prayer and need for it, then you can imagine the importance of His Word. Keeping yourself grounded in it. James takes this a step farther by saying it’s not enough to just hear it, but you have to do it.
“Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face in a mirror.” – James 1:23
It’s not enough to just read God’s Word, you have to DO God’s Word. Live it out, make it apart of your life. Once again, be more like Jesus.
Trials are difficult, but they can be life-changing. Trials are also necessary. It’s a part of growth, it’s a part of a Christian’s walk with Jesus. To test the authenticity of our faith, so we can become mature, so we can lack nothing and be complete. James 1:4
When a trial comes your way, pray for guidance and endurance to get through it. Putting your faith in Christ Jesus.
“Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12
If you are struggling with a trial and don’t know what it means to put your faith in Jesus, reach out to us. We would love to walk you through it.