Count it all Joy

Tuesday, June 7, 2016 @ 11:55 PM

“2My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials [or temptations], 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

James’s starts verse 2 with a favorite means of expressing a personal sense of both national and Christian identity toward the particular audience at that time who then were Jewish Christians-and he calls them “brethren.” However, we today are his audience as well and the application of that personal sense is the same for us. For all who believe we are the brethren-we are the family of the most high God.

Now in verse 2 the Greek text implies falling unexpectedly into so many difficulties that a person is completely surrounded; even overwhelmed. For some of us who have either struggled with an illness or who have a loved one with an illness, we know often how that feels. As the father of a mentally challenged son, soon to be 19 and yet one who needs 24/7 supervision and care, I know exactly how that feels.

These trials or temptations referred to are not simply appeals to sin but any of the testing designed to produce pure Christian character. Genesis 22:1 uses the word “tempt” in the same way. James probably had in mind the suffering and sickness that his readers were experiencing (Ja. 5:13, 14). God’s plan is to produce something good out of every such circumstance in a person’s life.

In verse 3 the testing or trying of your faith—lit., “that which is approved [through testing] in your faith” is the very thing that brings about patience—The Greek word for patience suggests a quality of endurance and steady persistence-determination to finish the race (see Luke 8:15).
When we finish the race with patience through faith we see in verse 4 the “perfect work” which is the full effect of matured patience and thus the ability to find that “joy in bearing the cross” (Menochius) even unto death. And we do so with that great hope that for the faithful we can have the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ (Matt. 10:22) (Calvin).

Perfect and complete or entire—the scriptural standard for perfection (or, maturation) is to be fully developed in all the attributes of Christian character, to be complete in every area of life (spirit, soul and body—1 Thess. 5:23), to be a whole man in this body even if our bodies sometimes seem to betray us. It is about how we handle ourselves in the face of our tribulations as we endure even the most serious hardship, despite which God’s plan is to make complete men out of us. “If God’s teachings have had a perfect work in you, you are perfect” (Alford) not by all you accomplish but through faith, what God accomplishes in you.

Such perfection is not measured by how much we’ve done in this realm but rather, but by the peace we experience through faith. Paul states in Romans 5: 1-5, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” 5Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

It’s all about faith and trust in God that develops Christian character in the face of adversity which includes our own human suffering. If we trust God and we know He is in control and even when we suffer He has not forgotten us but rather is making us into the image of His son Jesus and like Jesus we too will be raised from death to life by faith alone, than human suffering can be seen as a good thing and yea, we may count it all Joy!!