Lesson 10 Winter Quarter
Lesson Text: James 1:1-8, 12-18
Golden Text: James 1:12
This week’s lesson keeps us moving down the path of learning what a blessing it is to be living under grace, rather than living under the burden of sin. As you and I know, there is much that we go through on our journey through life; many heart aches and much pain. That being said, we will see in our lesson this week that while going through our trials and temptations, the Lord is still with us and that is truly a great blessing.
When We Fall Into Trials
Our lesson opens with James speaking about when you and I, as true believers, fall into trials. Trials, we can consider, to be tests or, as the King James Version translates, temptations that we face on our journey.
The purpose of our trials
Trials are something that everybody goes through, regardless of who they are or what they may possess. For example, in Matthew’s gospel (Matt. 4:1-11), we see where Satan intentionally tempted Jesus with the desire to get Jesus to sin by falling down and worshiping him. In the book of Job, Job, a blameless and upright man who had family and great wealth, was put through the ringer by Satan with the desire to get Job to go against the Lord (Job 1:8-12).
So, on one end of it, we see that our going through trials could potentially lead to one no longer trusting in the Lord and turning against Him. I will skip to some of the later verses in our lesson to point out where James writes how we are tempted when we are drawn away by our desires and enticed; this is what gives birth to sin and can lead to spiritual death (vss.14-15).
Some believe that it is the Lord that puts us through these kinds of tests but, as James says, the Lord doesn’t put us through tests to commit sin. You see, the Lord has no desire for you to sin at all so why would He put you in a test to where you could potentially fall into sin – that makes no sense! So, as James says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’” (v.13).
Jesus stood by faith and never gave in to the temptations of the devil. Job, while he had questions for the Lord, did not curse God to his face because he held to his faith in the Lord. Based on those two examples alone, we know what it takes to endure the trials that we will inevitably face on our journeys — it takes faith.
The question that we must answer when we go through our trials is this: Are we going to stand patient in our faith or not?
James says to us that we should count it all joy when we fall into various trials because these trials test our faith and produce patience (vss.2-3). Rarely does any of us consider that what we go through in life is for strengthening us in our ability to endure and to persevere. In other words, one trial builds us up for the next thing down the road so that when we come to that trial, we know that we have the strength to make it through.
So, the purpose of our trials and temptations is not for us to sin but to strengthen us so that we can continue to endure and persevere. Our trials only builds up our faith rather than tear it down.
Lean on the Lord
Now, do we make it through those trials by our own might? Absolutely not! There are many that would like to believe that they have made it thus far on their journey by their own power and might but they are truly mistaken in this belief.
Jesus said that those who build their house on a poor foundation would soon see their house collapse when the storms of life beat upon it (Matt. 7:26-27). Yet, those whose house is built on a solid foundation will see their house withstand those same types of storms (Matt. 7:24-25).
Some folks are just barely making it on their journey and one more storm – one more trial – could be their breaking point. I don’t say this to scare anybody but the truth of the matter is that there have been many souls lost because rather than standing on faith in the Lord with what they were going through in life, they stood on something incredibly weak or nothing at all.
The believer cannot be that way when we face our trials and temptations. James tells us to let patience – let faith – have its perfect work, so that we may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (v.4). Is it fun to have to go through our trials and temptations? No. Yet, again, we should face whatever it is that we are going through in full confidence knowing that we have the strength to be able to endure.
Our strength, I want you to understand, comes from the Lord. Again, we will see James tell us to go to God when we are being tested and tempted – don’t try to tackle these things on your own unless you want to get run over. James said, “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him (v.5).”
God gives liberally
When we talk about the blessing amid trials, the blessing truly is that the Lord is with us; God does not leave us nor does He forsake us (Deut. 31:6). The fact that the Lord is there to help us through our trials, again, truly is a blessing that we should be thankful for and we should lean on as well.
When James says that the Lord gives liberally, we have to be clear in our understanding. Liberal: marked by generosity; given or provided in a generous and openhanded way. So, in other words, when the Lord gives, He does not hold anything back. As James said, the Lord gives without reproach (no hesitation).
Let us also point out who the Lord is giving to in such a manner. God gives this way, we were told, to those who are lacking and asks Him. Now, we have to also consider that those who ask of Him must ask out of true faith (v.6)! True faith, James makes it very clear, asks without any doubt.
Doubt, he says, causes one to be like a wave tossed by the wind – they are double minded (vss.7-8). You see, the problem with the double minded person is that they are doubting the Lord. This person knows what they want but they are doubting the Lord’s authority to bless them. Answer this question: why would the Lord ever give us anything when we doubt He can give us anything?
Some would suggest that the Lord giving us something would be a way for Him to prove what He can do. My response to this would be: hasn’t the Lord not proved Himself enough already? In every testimony I have ever heard of the Lord, the Lord has proved plenty that He is faith, He is just, He is provider, and will supply our every need. Why can’t we have some faith in Him rather than think that the Lord needs to prove Himself?
I tell you this, when you are tried and tested, the best thing that you can do is lean on the Lord. Heed the testimony that is shared in scripture but heed the testimony of all of those around you who have been blessed with the Lord and made it through whatever they have gone through. Then, I encourage you, stand on faith amid your trials and you will see that the Lord will bring you through.
We Overcome by Faith
When we endure temptation, James writes that we will receive the crown of life (v.12). The crown of life is that heavenly reward that all of those who are of true faith will receive at the end of their race, their journey.
This is the same crown, the imperishable crown, that Paul wrote of in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 9:24-27). To Timothy, Paul referred to this same crown as the “crown of righteousness” (2 Tim. 4:8). Paul wrote that those who compete in a race often compete for the prize that is at the end of the race; it is a prize that is of the world and while it may be a beautiful prize, a prize of meaning, it is also perishable.
Paul said that we who believe are running a race for a prize at the end of the race. Now, to be clear, he did not say that we were competing against one another, but rather, we are all running so that we can all get the same prize. In order to get that prize, Paul said that we must learn to be temperate (disciplined) in all things. In our trials and our temptations, we must learn to be disciplined so that we do not disobey and fall into sin!
Of himself, Paul said, “I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” So, Paul said that he learned to discipline himself the best that he could so that he could receive the reward of the imperishable crown rather than end up being disqualified.
What does this mean for us? We, again, must also learn to discipline ourselves so that we can receive the crown of life. James has laid it out for us in how we can go about making it through our trials and temptation: we lean on the Lord and be steadfast in our faith – we overcome by faith!