In the second sermon from the book of James, we dove headfirst into the first eighteen verses of chapter one where James begins to flesh out the gospel-centered reality that good works do not direct God’s favor, but instead reflect God’s favor. We see this reality applied specifically in this first section, to the crucible of pain and trials that inevitably come into all of our lives in varying degrees.
James then goes on to demonstrate that these trials are meant to develop and prove us. They test our faith because they have a unique way of revealing what we truly trust in and live for. Trials need not be seen as punishment in the Christian life, but grace-filled interventions to strip away our idols. James then articulates the resource we need in the midst of these trials – Wisdom. Gospel wisdom is the resource we need in trials because it points us to the person and work of Jesus. Gospel wisdom says that God does not measure us according to how well we respond to such trials, but rather that Christ has already qualified us before God so we’re then able to respond in a Christ-like manner.
We must see this section of James once again as a picture and a promise. It is a PICTURE of how Christ responded to trial (counting it all joy- 1:2); “for the joy set before him endured the cross...” (Hebrews 12:2) and a PROMISE of how we too will respond as we’re continually conformed more and more into his image and likeness.
How does understanding that God’s love for you is not dependent on how well you respond in the midst of trials, liberate and empower you to actually respond in a manner that is Christ-like? How is this order of understanding the only way to truly respond the way James exhorts us to, which is to count it all joy?
Take a few moments to listen to the sermon HERE or read James 1:1-18 again and reflect on Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 and see them as an incredible encouragement.