I said earlier that I would be studying Titus and 2 Timothy next but I read chapter 1 of Titus and it was so similar to 1 Timothy that I felt it may be better to take s one book detour. I felt compelled to read James. So James it is.
This was written by James, Jesus’ little brother. He was a leader in the Jerusalem church which was at the time, headquarters for the entire church.
(I wrote this about 5 years ago. I would like to add a short comment. There is a type of motorcycle racing called trial riding. You win, not by being fast, but by staying on your motorcycle and not putting your foot down. It takes skill and patience and being nimble because the “track“ is over rocks and logs and through streams and over holes and up and down embankments. Trials. It’s a metaphor for our life with Jesus. We need to “stay on” Jesus and he will carry us through the rough terrain of life. I hope the images help us understand the ruggedness of life and the strength of Jesus to get us up and over and through all the obstacles of life).
“2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”
Right away we are slapped with 2 counter cultural statements. Be joyful when being tried and believe in someone we can’t see. Not only believe that they exist but also believe that they can do what you are asking of them.
There is so much in this chapter. That I will take two days to cover it.
The next statement is not only counter cultural but counter intuitive. Getting rich and having lots of stuff gives us a lower status as s believer than being poor.
“9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.”
The one who possesses lots of stuff is in turn possessed by the stuff. You have to take care of it, house it, maintain it, care for it. There is much to be said for a simple life. Living simply by choice is different than being made poor by circumstance.
We have been poor. God provided everything we needed.
I am off subject.
“12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
The trial that James speaks of here is believing in Jesus even if that means losing everything we possess, up to and including our lives, because we believe in Jesus. At that time in Jerusalem People were being told to renounce their faith or die. Many died. They would first lose their family, be thrown into prison, all of their belongings would be taken away and at the end of that they would face the question, do you believe in Jesus? If they renounced him they would get it all back. If they continued to believe they will be killed, by stoning, beheading or by crucifixion.
How is this like the world we live in today? It’s a reality for many Christians.
Here is what I believe. Jesus, he really lived, he really died, he really came back from the dead. He really ascended into heaven and he really is coming back to get us. He did all of that because he loves us and wants to spend eternity with us. His death paid for our sin, when he came back to life he showed his power over death.
This confession may cost me my life someday but it gives me eternal life from today onward.
The thing is that being a Christian does not guarantee me anything in this life. Not safety, not wealth, not health. “12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”