This week, James is introducing us to the Christian process in the first chapter. Through the first chapter, he gives us a straight-to-the-point explanation of what he will be sharing throughout the next few chapters as well as learning how to apply practical faith into the Christian process.
For example, there is a process in baking. A cake has raw ingredients that undergo a chemical reaction; a process that will leave a mess of materials changed. Then the cake has to go through a process of heating as it goes in the oven. Through that process, heat will activate the ingredients. However, if this process is interrupted in any way before the cake has finished; it will become inactive and ineffective. It is a useless mess. If the cake does not go through the whole process… it will not produce the desired results.
James introduces us to the topic of trials:
- You will go through trials and through those trials… you are to welcome each trial and endure them with joy.
- Joy is not found in the absence of trials, but rather in spite of them.
- You are not to run away from those circumstances that test your faith, patience, or hope because that is part of the process that brings you to the desired result of a mature and complete Christian life.
If you are having trouble following through with the two previous verses, he gives us the answer to what we need to do:
- You ought to go to God with a genuine heart; asking him to give you wisdom in those circumstances. How do we do this? The Bible in Hebrews 10:22 says,“Come to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.”
- You ought to not go to God asking for things that you really don’t intend on following through with:
- James is not saying that if you are a doubtful person then you should not ask God for things…no, that would be ridiculous since we all have doubted and will continue to doubt.
- James is addressing the person who asks for wisdom and has no intentions of applying it to their life. They will reject the wisdom if it is not what they want to hear. That person might know all the right things to say and may make their prayers lengthy, but deep down they have no desire to change what is right in their mind. And guess what? It might fool the person listening to their prayer, but it sure doesn’t fool God. (James 1:7 ESV) says, “For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.” Why? Because, "He is a double-minded man.” You can never be proud and wise at the same time. The two don’t go hand-in-hand.
James reminds us of the various forms of trials that we might face in the process.
There are circumstances we will not want to undergo and stages that we will try and run from. But we must not change our results! In verses 5-17, James reminds us of the many things that will try and turn us away from the process such as, the pursuit of money (v. 9-11), temptation and its origin (v.13-15), and the questioning of God’s motives and abilities (v.16-17).
In verses 16 and 17, he reminds us of God’s character because the devil will try to confuse you about God’s character in the midst of your trials.
The devil would like you to think that God’s intentions are to harm you with the trials that you go through or in some way, God’s incapable of handling your problems:
- “You are a good person. What kind of God would deny you of this?”
- “How could God care about you if He took that loved one away from you?”
- "If God really cared about your happiness, He would let you be in that relationship.”
- "If your God is really as powerful as you think he is, why didn’t He save your friend from cancer when you prayed for it?”
The trials will weigh and the problems will make you doubt God, but He remains unchanging and His character unfailing.
“Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures” (James 1:18, ESV).
James writes how God is training us to be the shining examples of what His Christ followers ought to look like; the shining example of humanity. This is his main goal to give God all the Glory through our mature and complete walk with Him.
For now, we will pause here at James’ main idea in the Christian process. Next time, we will learn how to apply wisdom in a practical way to the trials that James outlined for us today.
Here are some questions:
- What are the trials you have been avoiding?
- What parts of this process have you tried pulling yourself out of the heat before you are mature and complete?
It could be because:
- Any sense of bitterness that you have not worked through.
- A temptation that you are not seeking accountability for.
- Avoiding that confrontation that God has put on your heart to confront.
Think on these questions and answer them for yourself. Then, get ready to fix it and hop back in the oven.
Lord, I pray that you give me a heart that is ready to face my trials. I pray that you will help me to have joy while I face them. I pray for wisdom and I pray that I genuinely want to apply that wisdom. Change me Lord, I know I need it.