By Bob Spurlin
There is not a single person who has not endured human suffering. It seems that some people go through more than their share of suffering, but such is part of the human experience. We often hear those that are frustrated with the crushing blows of life saying, “Why me, Lord!” The God of heaven becomes an easy target for those lashing out when such cases of human suffering knock at our door. There are three kinds of people in the world today: (1) those in the middle of a trial; (2) those coming out of a trial; and (3) and those who are about to enter a trial.
The general subject of temptation or trial is discussed in James 1:1-15. It is apparent that those to whom the epistle was directed were, at the time, suffering in some form, or would be called upon to pass through temptations, and that they needed counsel and support. The young Christians reading these words were faced with challenges; murmuring and complaining, and of charging God as the author of temptation and of sin. Let us consider the following topics:
THE CERTAINTY OF TRIALS (James 1:2). All readers of the epistle of James should expect trials to come with certainty. James wanted these young Christians to understand that this subject was not one of sorrow, but of gladness and joy (James 1:2). These Christians would be called upon to endure severe trials. Enduring these trials would produce patience and grace in a difficult time. Truly we still need the admonition to “count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations?” We never know when our faith will be put to the test physically, spiritually, or emotionally. The readers of James epistle were not to regard it as a matter of sorrow, but of gladness and joy to be called upon as they enter through such fiery trials. James was not suggesting that Christians ought to enjoy trials, or that trials are here for a joy. The inspired writer is not referring to some pain for pleasure ritual.
The fruit of such a spiritual exercise would produce patience, and this was to be considered a blessing from God (James 1:2-4).
THE CHALLENGE OF TRIALS (James 1:3). The trials we face in the Christian life could be fittingly described as a test or audition. Trials or tryouts are necessary before one is given the part in a play or theatrical production. All the trials we face in the Christian life compels us to rely completely upon our faith in God, to see if we are able to finish the race (I Cor. 9:24-25). He who passes through these fiery trials meeting the challenges of life gives proof that his religion is sound. The evidence seen in the lives of Abraham, Job, Daniel, Peter, Paul and others gave them courage, patience, and perseverance.
It is clear that the readers of this epistle are suffering in some form, or they would soon be subjected to trials causing their souls to be tested. The word “temptation” in the KJV comes from the Greek work peirasmos. In fact the words “trials” and “temptations” come from the same root word. We must look at the context to determine its meaning.
Trials are given by God that we may learn steadfastness. Temptations are given by Satan to cause us to stumble (James 1:13-15). God uses a trial to test us with the goal of bringing His children to the state of maturity. Satan, with his test, is plotting your misery. Peter drives home this truth: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try (test) you, as though some strange thing happened unto you" (I Peter 4:12). Now to be tempted, or tried, is not a sin. Jesus was tempted, but he did not sin (Mt. 4:1-11; Heb. 4:15). Temptation is an enticement, an allurement, or inducement to commit sin.
THE CONFLICT OF TRIALS (James 1:4). God’s people have entered the arena of conflict time and again. The trials of life will often shake us to the core, seeing if we can survive such a trying encounter. And when these trials come to pass, WHAT NEXT? We will either become stronger or weaker. If we become smitten by this conflict, Satan will prevail as we sink into the quicksand of destruction (Mt. 7:24-27). If we stand the test we become stronger, which is the objective of James admonition. He is saying endure the test so that you will be a stronger person. Notice verse three: "knowing this the trying of your faith worketh patience."
Patience in the New Testament refers to three words giving a fuller meaning: endurance, perseverance, and steadfastness. Think of how Paul was under so many trials, but he endured them. He was steadfast; he persevered (II Corinthians 11:23-33; II Timothy 4:6-8). The purpose of a test is two-fold. Tests reveal the "strength" of your knowledge; and it measures the "weakness" of your knowledge.
We may think our faith is strong if we are regular in church attendance, contribute faithfully, live an upright life, and show compassion to the needy. It is only when trouble knocks at our door will we know if we are strong enough to withstand the storms of life. You see, faith not only must stand the test of time, it must stand the test of trouble. Each of us has confronted sudden and unexpected trials that may very well bring us to our knees. Your next phone call may be the greatest trial of your life. Someone on the other end will give you stunning news that you are not prepared for. You will either fall through weakness blaming God, or gird yourselves with faith becoming victorious. We wish you well and “Count it all Joy” when you are subjected to the trials of life.
- Bob Spurlin, the "horizontal" preacher, has been bedridden with Multiple Sclerosis for a number of years, yet continues to faithfully serve his Lord through a number of avenues, most notably his writing. In addition to his website, http://www.bobspurlin.com, you may contact Bob via his email: firstname.lastname@example.org (©2000-2007 BOB SPURLIN).