2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. 5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.9 Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10 And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. 11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
What can I say…we are studying through the book of James not quite in order.
The first statement in this passage is enough to make you scratch your head in confusion: “whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.” If I understand that correctly, I take it to mean that I should be nothing short of excited to deal with the junk that life brings my way. Doesn’t sound quite rational or logical, does it? However James is make an incredible point. The fact is trouble is always going to come our way. That’s life! But James offers a perspective that is not often considered. His point is that we should consider joy because it is in the bad times that we have the greatest opportunity to mature. Think about it…aren’t we more likely to lean on God when things are tough than when they are good? And don’t we grow more in our relationship with God when we are clinging to Him for dear life? I really can’t remember the last time I’ve had some incredible revelation from God when life was good. On the other hand, I can think of countless lessons I have learned when I am dealing with all the junk and stresses of this world. At the very least, I learn to lean on God more and more. That is definitely reason to be joyful!
I love how James draws conclusion to facing troubles and temptations in life. It’s a warning of sorts, but I think it also speaks to the character of God in a very big way. When bad things happen or we do bad things ourselves we often ask the question, “Why God?” as if the blame should fall on Him. God has nothing to do with evil. It exists in complete contradiction to who He is. The temptation we experience in life is NEVER from God, but rather ourselves. I think that one of the many problems that we have to acknowledge and address is that fact that most people do not take responsibility for their actions. It’s easier to blame others, especially God, instead of stepping up to the plate and accepting responsibility.
James goes on to write that whatever is good and perfect comes from God. Just like with the previous point, it is human nature to do the exact opposite. When good things happen we want to assume that we had something to do with it: get a raise or promotion at work and we automatically associate it with our hardword, buy a brand new car or house and we brag about what we’ve done with our money…you get the idea. The truth is we have it all backwards, which just goes to show how much sin has us all screwed up. The good stuff comes from God and the temptations that we deal with in life come from our own evil desires.
What I found absolutely astounding is that even thought we don’t approach the trouble in life with an attitude of joy, or we assume that the tempations we struggle with are God’s fault, or we take credit for everything good in life, James still makes this profound statement, “In His goodness He chose to make us His own children but giving us His true word. And we, out of all creation, became His choice possesssion.” (v. 18) No matter how backwards we ever get it and no matter how much we ever sin…He still loves us. We are His choice possession. He has given me His true word so that I might be His child. WOW!