7 February 2021
Series: Rise Up
Book: James

Rise Up and Trust the Process

Speaker: Austin Rammell

Bible Passage: James 1:2-4

Rise Up and Trust the Process

Rise Up and Trust The Process

James 1:2-4

Check out this week’s discussion guide: Growing Pains

How do we handle the trials that introduce themselves to us? Sometimes they come politely, but most of the time they have no regard for us whatsoever. Do you know what I mean? Trials are rude in how they show up!

Some of life’s trials are predictable but most of them just seem to appear without warning. They are kind of like the neighbors that moved in that showed up with smiles and gratefulness but then soon you find out they have a dog that barks all night long, or they confuse their front yard as the garbage can or they start selling crack out their front door with the occasional shoot out with competing drug dealers!

It’s why I’m scared to death to buy land in the country and build a house. It would be my luck that the person beside me would soon thereafter decide to build chicken houses so that every morning I got up to enjoy my coffee I would have the fresh smell of brewed coffee mixed with the aroma of 1,000 pounds of chicken crap! I love to eat chicken, but I sure would not want to live anywhere near a chicken farm!

At some point in life, some earlier than others, we all realize that the journey of life presents us with difficult, hard, and sometimes brutally terrible circumstances. Whether it’s people around us who come against us or arbitrary circumstances that create incredible obstacles, or the failures of our own health and well-being; life brings things to us that interfere with our plans if not all together destroys them.

So how do we handle it? How do we handle the consequences of an election that takes our country in a direction that makes our life more difficult? How do we handle a new business that comes along and takes away from ours? How do we handle the pink slip that not only resulted in your loss of income but could make you lose your house? How do you handle finding out your spouse is cheating on you? How do you handle a parent who constantly attacks and belittles you? How do you handle the person who has deceitfully undermined your integrity and reputation? How do you handle the doctor telling you the bad news of the biopsy? How do you handle the new revelation of what the accumulation of birthdays is doing to your body?

The book of James is considered to be the earliest of all the New Testament epistles. It was probably written sometime between ad 45 and 50.1

It was written by James (go figure!) who is the brother of Jesus. He was going through all kinds of trials himself, and he wrote a letter to a bunch of believers who were going through a bunch of really hard trials as well. The entire premise of the letter is that trials are God’s process to accomplish His will in our life. But you and I have to trust GOD’s process for it to have a desirable outcome. But how do we trust His process?

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

James 1:2-4 gives us three challenges on how we can rise up and trust the process.

Have the Right Perspective – Joy. (1:2)

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,

“My brothers.”

Though James’ command was direct and forceful, he did not preach at his audience. He identified with them. He addressed them warmly as “my brothers.”2

“When you meet trials of various kinds.”

He’s not speaking of the self-inflicted results of our sin that we know right where they came from; that’s more the subject last week in Romans 6!

The word peirasmos (“trial”) has two meanings. Here it means “external adversities,” whereas in verses 13, 14 it means “inner impulse to evil,” “temptation.”3

James writes his epistle to Jewish Christians who have been driven from their homes and possessions. He addresses people who suffer because they are exploited by the rich, dragged into court, and slandered for believing in the noble name of Jesus (2:6–7). To these people James directs a pastoral letter in which his first admonition is to rejoice.4

The Christians James was addressing were facing trials of many kinds. These trials were not severe persecution (and certainly not illness, for which different terms are used), but rather low-level persecution such as social rejection and economic boycotts. This was happening simply because they were Christians. Although the trials were painful, James calls the believers to rejoice, not because the pain is pleasant but because they should have a perspective which looks beyond the present life to eternal reward. The pure joy is not a present happiness, but joy in anticipation of God’s future.5

As you go through life trials meet you. They come to you.

The word “meet” has a relational aspect to it, in that when they are introduced to our life it’s not something we saw on our journey and observed but rather that has inserted itself into our lives. something that is now very much a part of us! And at best they come to us rudely! That’s why they are so hard to deal with because they become very personal! Our default response is to get bitter and upset about them instead of finding joy in them. because it feels deeply personal no matter if it is or isn’t.

Persecution for being a Christian, a person at work who undermined you and cost you a promotion, a family member taking advantage of you, an unfaithful spouse, a rebellious child, etc… all these trials hit us on the most personal level. Even illness and disease feels like a personal attack against us by God. That He’s got some sort of vendetta with us.

But, nonetheless, James says to, “Count it all joy.”

The key question in the mind of the Christian is not, then, whether trials will come, but rather how to deal with them when they do come.6

“Instead of praising God, many Christians have become cynical, skeptical, and even depressed because of these trials.”7

Make a conscious decision to label the trial as an opportunity for something good and therefore I have a reason to have joy.

Trials should not be seen as a punishment, a curse, or a calamity but something that must prompt rejoicing.8

Most people count it all joy when they escape trials. James said to count it all joy in the midst of trials (cf. 1 Peter 1:6, 8).9

It is understandably discouraging when walking the road of life, you move from a fun and awesome experience into a miserable trial. It’s understandable why we want life to always be fun and cheerful experiences. However, James is telling us it’s our choice to keep or give up joy when we meet the ugliness of life along our journey.

All too often the moment trials introduced themself we abandon our grip on Joy, we fumbled the football, and embrace anger, resentment, jealousy, envy, cynicism, and even embrace the rationality of quitting. James says don’t do that but instead cling to Joy.

When you meet these people and situations don’t let them take joy, but he tells us to actually count it as joy!

Why? HOW? This leads us to our next point.

Engage the Right Battle – Faith in Christ. (1:3)

3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

There is nothing more frustrating than fighting the wrong battle. Exhausting yourself trying to accomplish something only to find out you did the wrong thing or that you were literally working on the entirely wrong issue!

A few years ago Pugh and I spent half a day creating an Advent series for Christmas only for me to realize hours into our process that earlier that year we had already spent a full day creating that very series! I found the file with all the sermons, passages, themes, titles, main ideas, etc. The entire shooting match. I ended up working until midnight that night catching up on all other the other stuff I needed to do that day knowing I had spent half my day doing something I had already done! I spent half the day fighting the wrong battle!

When we meet trials the battle is our faith in Christ. The trial is not the battle. That’s the playing field. The battle is whether or not we will continue loving Jesus, believing God is good, believing that our future in Christ is worth laboring for, that living in obedience to Him is worth it no matter how much I’m ridiculed or penalized for it in this world. It is a battle of whether I will continue true joy in knowing and following Jesus no matter what comes my way.

Will I continue to believe loving others is always worth it? Will I continue to believe doing the moral and ethical thing is the right thing no matter what? Will I not let go of the faith?

It is a call to actively continue trusting and believing Jesus. “Man’s faith can never be passive. It is active. Faith, as James points out in his epistle, must be accompanied by action; otherwise it is dead (2:17).”10

It is not a call to be complacent and settle but a call to rise up and press on in Christ no matter the trial that comes our way.

But, to properly engage the battle of faith in trials we must remember:

No trial comes to me that surprised God. He’s always in charge. – Psalm 103:19

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules overall. (Psalm 103:19)

The crucial thing is to remember that such suffering comes from God’s hand. Nothing is clearer in Scripture than the truth that God sends trials and difficulties into the lives of his children because he has certain purposes to achieve.11

Even the sinful actions of man against you did not escape the notice of God or surprise Him! He has been equipping you for this day. He has been preparing you to not give up faith but to charge through it and grow. he’s coached you and he’s tested you. Now it’s time to raise the bar and go to another level!

No trial comes to me that’s bigger than God. He’s all powerful. – Jeremiah 32:17

Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. – Jeremiah 32:17

If you will grab hold of God and not lose your commitment to know and follow Him you can be sure He will empower you to go right through the most awful trial this world or man can throw at you. No matter how hard and terrible it is God is bigger. His power can bring you out the other side.

But you have to fight the right battle. The battle is to keep finding your joy in knowing Him. The battle is to abound in the joy of knowing Him!

No trial comes to me that will not be judged by God. He’s all knowing and eternally just. – Ecclesiastes 3:17

I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.” (Ecclesiastes 3:17)

Be sure of this: no one escapes the judgment of God. You are God’s children and as such the Bible promises there will be a reckoning. The Book of Revelation is particularly clear that all who refused to repent of the evil they brought against His kids will stand in judgment. There is no wrath from you that can compare to the wrath that will come from God!

So keep the truth in front of your mind and engage in the right battle. The battle is that you will refuse under any circumstance to let go of your confident faith in the truth of the Gospel!

Rise up and trust the process by valuing the outcome. (1:4)

4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Christians can face trials with joy because there are rich advantages from these testings. Trials, rightly taken, produce the sterling quality of endurance.12

What does “perfect” mean? Certainly it does not mean “without sin.” In 3:2 James writes, “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” James intends to convey the concept of wholeness, that is, “not lagging behind in any point.” Addressing the Philippians, Paul also uses the expression perfect. The New International Version translates it “mature”: “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things” (Phil. 3:15). With respect to the readers of Paul’s and James’s letters, the term perfect means “mature.”13

Two words describe the goal: mature and complete. “Mature” (teleioi), often translated “perfect” or “finished,” is coupled with “complete” (holoklēroi, from holos, “whole,” and klēros, “part”) to give the idea of perfected all over or fully developed in every part.14

The Greek term for ‘mature’ is also often translated as ‘perfect’.. It indicates a character like God’s. This type of maturity is produced by holding fast to the faith and Christian virtue while in the fire of persecution. The impurities in one’s character will be burned off. The end result will be not just maturity, but completeness, which means that not a single part of a God-like character will be lacking. If this is the end result of the readers’ trials, difficult as they may be, there is indeed something to rejoice about.15

Writes Peter H. Davids, “That is, perfection is not just a maturing of character, but a rounding out as more and more ‘parts’ of the righteous character are added.”16

My grandfather once grew citrons in his field, but someone started stealing them who likely thought they were watermelons. Citrons taste absolutely terrible unless you process them. But if processed correctly they make the best jelly and candies for fruitcake that you could ever have.

But, you have to go through the process correctly to get the benefit of the outcome!

Remember our conversation in November about emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand the bias of our emotions and as such objectively understand our circumstances, rightly evaluate the potential outcomes of my response, and then act in a way that has the best potential outcome. Like any intelligence, it is only gained through how we handle our experiences. If we do not learn from them then we do not gain intelligence.

Likewise, spiritual maturity is gained the same way. and mature living is much more enjoyable! Immature living is being tossed about by every wind and wave that comes near it. It’s no fun at all. It’s like being on a raft in the middle of a storm. It may seem fun for a moment, but you will find yourself freezing, hungry, exhausted, totally out of control with no ability to effectively direct your path through the storm, and eventually your dead!

A ship can point itself into the waves, it can stay its course! As the waves crash over the bow, and the ship rises and falls you may become sick, tired, and even scared. But a ship still has the ability to progress. A raft is totally at the mercy of its circumstances.

But to become a ship you have to go through trials clinging to your faith. That’s how God builds you up to be that ship. The rich can always get richer because they possess more resources to get richer. In the same way. as you grow your ability to grow gets even bigger. Something that in the past would have robbed us of joy by robbing us of our belief in who Jesus is and what He is doing now results in an increase of faith!

Challenge:

Are you seeking God to give you the experience of living by removing you from the reality of life?

Every possible trial to the child of God is a masterpiece of strategy of the Captain of his salvation for his good. (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D.) 17

All too often we cry out to God to let us escape a trial. But we don’t realize that we are crying out to God to escape life.

Life is lived on the playing field of trials and tribulations. It is the unchangeable reality of this world. God condemned this world to this reality and its only hope is the return of Christ, which will happen! But until then we are not without a present Hope.

Christ gives us the ability to live life now! To rise up in the midst of life, that is one trial after the next, and to actually experience joy and living! It is done not by clinging to a faith that believes God will let you escape a trial, and He may, but it is rather experienced when we cling to our love for God and His love for us. Clinging to our future, our identity as His Children, our confidence that His eternal justice is more real and thorough than any justice ever found in this world. And that no matter how bad things get in this world laboring in all that matters to God is never in vain. It is always worth it!

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:58

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Footnotes

  1. Ellsworth, R. (2009). Opening up James (p. 18). Leominster: Day One Publications.
  2. Blue, J. R. (1985). James. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 820). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Pfeiffer, C. F., & Harrison, E. F. (Eds.). (1962). The Wycliffe Bible Commentary: New Testament (Jas 1:2). Chicago: Moody Press.
  4. Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, p. 31). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
  5. Davids, P. H. (1994). James. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1357). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
  6. Ellsworth, R. (2009). Opening up James (p. 20). Leominster: Day One Publications.
  7. Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, p. 35). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
  8. Blue, J. R. (1985). James. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 820). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  9. Blue, J. R. (1985). James. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 820). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  10. Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, p. 33). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
  11. Ellsworth, R. (2009). Opening up James (p. 21). Leominster: Day One Publications.
  12. Blue, J. R. (1985). James. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 820). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  13. Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, p. 35). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
  14. Blue, J. R. (1985). James. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 821). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  15. Davids, P. H. (1994). James. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1357). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
  16. Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, p. 36). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
  17. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 484). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.