The Book of JAMES
James J. Barker
THE VALUE OF TRIALS Part 2
- Tonight I will
try and pick up where we left off in our new series in the epistle of
- We saw that trials
develop Christian character (1:2-4).
- We noted that
the word "temptations" (1:2) is used in different ways in Scripture. It could refer to solicitation to
evil, like when the serpent tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1-6), or
when he tempted our Lord in Matthew 4.
- There is also testing under trial, like when Abraham
was tried in Genesis 22. The LORD
told Abraham to offer up his son Isaac.
- The word as it is used here in James 1:2 means trials
or "testings" (margin). These testings are from God, though He may use Satan,
as He did in the case of Job.
- God never tempts a man to do evil (cf. James
- The devil tempts men to do evil, but God never does.
In fact, the devil is called "the tempter" in Matthew 4:3 and in I
- It is difficult for us to go through trials and
troubles and testings, but if we know the Lord, we can see His hand at work
and truly "count it all joy" (1:2).
- God is working in all of the events of life and is
seeking to build Christian character. We can be sure that God is dealing with
us for our own good (1:3; cf. Rom. 5:3, 4; 8:28).
- Romans 5:3 says, "tribulation
- James 1:3, 4 says,
"Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let
patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting
WISDOM THROUGH PRAYER
- One of the good
things about trials is that they drive us to our knees. They motivate us to pray
- Oftentimes we
pray more fervently and frequently when trials come into our life.
- Referring to
trials, Andrew Murray said, "First, He brought me here; it is by His will I am
in this strait place; in that fact I will rest. I am here — by God's appointment. Next, He will keep me here in His love,
and give me grace to behave as His child. I am here — in His keeping. Then,
He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn,
and working in me the grace He means to bestow. I am here — under His training.
Last, in His good time, He can bring me out again—how and when He knows.
I am here — for His time.
- The Bible does
not give specific answers to the various trials and troubles that arise in life.
What it does is give us basic principles that we must apply to the various and
diverse problems that God allows us to go through.
- This is why we
need wisdom (1:5). Wisdom is the practical application of God’s Word to everyday
situations. There are many people who are intelligent and well-educated but lack
- Proverbs 9:10 says, "The fear of the LORD is the
beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding."
- Many people are
intelligent, but not wise. For example, listen to this horrible statement by one
of the most intelligent men of the twentieth century: "In their struggle for the
ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine
of a personal god" – Albert Einstein.
PRAYING IN FAITH
- We are to pray
for wisdom, believing that God will give us what we ask for (1:6-8). Many
Christians have just enough faith to believe God saved them but that’s about as
far as it goes.
- Our Lord said
in Mark 11:24, "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye
pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have
- "The brother of
low degree" (1:9) means low in income, not poor spiritually (cf. 2:5). He is to
"rejoice in that he is exalted."
- "Exalted" here
means that he is a joint-heir with Jesus; he is accepted in the beloved; he is
saved from hell and on his way to heaven.
- On the other
hand, the rich man should not rejoice in his wealth, but "that he is made low"
- Jeremiah 9:23, 24 says, "Let not the rich man glory in
his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and
knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and
righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the
- Earthly riches are destined to pass away "as the flower
of the grass" (1:10, 11). James develops this theme later on (chapter 5).
- Any trial that pulls us away from the love of money and
directs our affections on things above is truly a blessing in disguise.
- Trials produce
endurance. There are many
examples of this in Scripture. In chapter 5, James refers to Elijah the
prophet. "Elias was a man subject
to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and
it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the
heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit" (5:17,
- If you think
you are going through a trial, consider Elijah, "a man subject to like passions
as we are." Wicked King Ahab
was on the throne.
- Ahab's wicked
wife Jezebel was killing the prophets of God, and supporting the prophets of
Baal. So Elijah prayed
earnestly and fervently. And James 5:18 says, "And he prayed again..."
- "Blessed is the
man that endureth temptation" – or trials (1:12), who can hold up well under
pressure, and keep on praying, and keep on trusting the Lord.
- James 1:12 says, "When he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life."
- There are two
references to the crown of life in the Bible. To the church of Smyrna, our Lord
said, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev. 2:10).
- The crown of
life and all the other crowns will be given at the judgment seat of Christ. We
are saved by grace but judged by our works (cf. Rom. 14:10, 12; I Cor. 3:12-15;
II Cor. 5:10, 11; II John 8; Rev. 3:11).
A number of years ago, Pastor WA Criswell told this story:
There was a man who had a
little boy born into his home and the little fellow was born with a deformed
foot. And as the little lad grew, and that deformed foot was so much a
handicap to the little fellow, the loving father took the boy to the doctor, and
to the doctor, and to the doctor, and none could help. And he took the
little boy with the deformed foot to the surgeon, and to the surgeon, and to the
surgeon and none could help. They gave him up, the little boy with the
deformed foot. Do you know what the father did? He got books and
books and books, and he studied and he studied and he read and he studied and he
studied. He learned every bone in the foot, its every articulation; the
tendon, the nerve, the muscle. He read and he studied. Then he made
a strange-looking box with screws, with felt washers at such strange
angles. And then he took his little boy and he put that deformed foot in
that strange-looking box. And he tightened those screws. And the
little boy cried. And the father tightened the screws, and the little boy
was in an agony. The father came home from work in the evening and the
little boy cried to his father and the father tightened the screws.
Day after day, week after
week, month after month, when the father would come home from work, the little
boy would cry in an agony and the father would cry and mingle his tears with the
boy and tighten the screws! And the day came when the father unloosed the
screws and opened the box and said to his son, "Son, stand up." And the
boy stood up for the first time, erect. And as the days passed, the boy
gained strength in his foot. And he walked erect, no deformity! That
boy grew to be a man, and one day over the grave of his father, he wept tears of
gratitude and loving appreciation. Maybe the father, being human,
tightened a screw just one turn too much. But our heavenly Father never
does, never. He knows exactly how much we can bear...He purposes in what
He does, He means it good for us.