When the writer of the book of James wrote his epistle, the word of God tells us that he wrote his letter to encourage the twelve tribes which were scattered throughout several places. There were some theologians which believed that these were the Jewish people from the Old Testament who had sinned against the Lord because of their sin of idolatry. There were ten tribes of Israel who were scattered from the promise land and taken into captivity by the Assyrian nation. The other remaining tribes were taken into Babylonian captivity by Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylon which they remain there for over seventy years (Jeremiah 29:1-14).
On the other hand, there are others who believed that the people mention in the book of James were the Jewish Christians. These believers had been dispersed during the time of the persecution of the early church when Saul of Tarsus had persecuted the church. Several of these people had left Jerusalem and were scattered to places like Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1). It is my humble opinion that the believers that the half-brother of Jesus, James spoke about were those believers by him greeting them as brethren.
When we go through times of persecution in our own life the enemy may want to use the persecution as an instrument to cause us to desert our faith in God. He may even try to use persecution which can come from the hands of men trying to get us to believe that the Lord has forsaken us. Not only has the Lord forgotten us but there is no hope of things getting better for us. However, I have come today to remind you what Jesus spoke about in Matthew 5:10-12 during His the sermon on the mount. The word of the Lord declared from the lips of the Master “that we are blessed when we are persecuted for righteousness sake for the kingdom of heaven belong to us”. When we are going through a season of testing and persecution, there are three things that the Lord would have us to do in that season. In a season of testing, we should first count it all joy, secondly know that our faith is being tested and finally allow patience to have her perfect work in us.
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing (James 1:2-4).
Count It All Joy
As believers, when we go through diverse temptations that could involve suffering, sickness or sorrow our response to these things, could be one of many reactions. Our first reaction to the trials we face could be a reaction were we might rebel or fight to accept them. The hand that we been dealt seems unfair because we have been a good Christian and have done nothing wrong in our eyes. We go to church every Sunday and give our offering each time the plate is passed down our row where we sit. Our reaction could also be by having a spirit of defiance that I am going to battle through this in my own strength and power because there is nothing that can hold us down.
Another reaction we might have by going through our diverse temptations is that we have decided to throw in the towel and give up. We have been deceived by the enemy that the weight of our trial is so heavy that at any moment that it is going to crush us. The pressure is so strong against us that fainting and giving up only seems like the logical choice to make. However, above all these types of reactions that we could have toward these temptations, the one response that we should have is that the Lord has a purpose for us in it. To be able to count it all joy when we are going through a test in our lives means to first stop and reflect upon how good God has been to us. Also, not only should we stop and count our blessings that the Lord has given us, but we should realize that the Lord can do it once again for us.
Your Faith is being tested
Now there are two types of temptations that we can go through in our lives. The first set of temptations that we go through as Christians is what I called unholy temptations. These are temptations which come from within us and we must learn to submit to the Lord. If we fail to submit these inner temptations to the Father and not resist the devil, the struggles that we wrestle with secretly can lead us into sin. The writer of the book of James reminds us in James 1:13-14 that “no man should say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed”. However, the more we press into the presence of the Lord and we soak in His presence it will bring us to a place us being depended upon Him. The word of the Lord declares that in Malachi 3:2-3 that the Lord is “a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness”. Your faith will be tested as you allow Him to remove the impurities from your character so that you can become more Christ-like.
A second set of temptations that we might go through are fiery trials which the Lord has permitted by His will to happen to us. There is no test, no struggle or hardship that can happen to us unless the Lord by His grace does not permit it to happen. These diverse temptations could be from a person losing their job, their loved one dying in a car accident or them losing their being destroyed in a fire. The God we serve never sleeps or slumbers and is not caught off guard by what is going on in our lives. However, the Lord will our faith to be placed on trial so that we can see how genuine our faith and why we must come forth as pure gold (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy (1 Peter 4:12-13).
Letting Patience have her Perfect Work
Finally, another reason why we must learn to count it all joy when we fall into various temptations is that we must allow patience to have her perfect work in us. All of us have felt at one time or another that we have had to wait for a blessing must longer than we wanted to wait. One example of this can be found in Numbers 13:1-2 and 17-33 and Numbers 14:1-39 when Joshua and Caleb had to wait for over forty years for a promised blessing that the Lord was going to give them. These two men were a part of the twelve spies that went into Canaan to spy out the promise land at the instructions of the Lord to Moses His servant. The men were not just ordinary men, but they were men who had influence with the people because they were ruler among the people.
When the twelves spies came back from surveying the land, Joshua and Caleb brought back a good report that the Lord would help Israel to possess their land. However, the other ten spies brought back an evil report. As a result of the ten men bringing back an evil report this cause the people to not trust in the Lord and the men who gave the evil report all die of plagues. The men of Joshua and Caleb generation all died in the wilderness while their children wander in the wilderness for over forty years (Numbers 26:65).
In reading this record a question that a person might ask is why did Joshua and Caleb wait over forty years? Both men believed the report of the Lord and were confident that the Lord would give Israel victory in taking the promise land. However, as we meditate upon the passages of scriptures what the Holy Spirit will reveal to me is that the promised land was not just for Joshua and Caleb but it was also for the children of Israel. The Lord many years ago had made a promise to their forefather Abraham that his seed would inherit the promise land of Canaan.
What was happening with Joshua and Caleb during those forty years as they went through the wilderness and waited? The Lord was preparing Joshua to elevate him in becoming Moses successor to lead God’s people and having him set apart and consecrated by the priests (Numbers 27:18 & 22). The Lord was also preparing Caleb to be one of Israel’s mightiest military leaders who would drive out the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak (Joshua 15:13-14). The Lord would also reward Caleb’s faithfulness to Him in having Joshua to bless him with his inheritance which would be the territory of Hebron (Joshua 14:13-14). According to Numbers 32:12 the word of God tells us that Joshua and Caleb “were men that wholly followed the Lord”. These men allowed patience to have her perfect work in them and prepare them both for a greater level of leadership. The Lord also wants us as the church to count it all joy as we fall into diverse temptations and let patience to have her perfect work in us. The Lord has a greater level of responsibility and leadership for you and me as we allow patience to have her perfect work in us.