James on Trials part eight

9 Jan

It’s good to endure trials because of what God is doing in those who endure

God uses trials help us become more holy.

As believers we can rest assured that every single trial that comes into our life has a purpose: to make us more like Jesus.

I like how the writer of Hebrews puts it, “…but he disciplines us for our good, that we might share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful but sorrowful, yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” (Hebrews 12:10,11)

Every single one of us needs to be more holy. And trials are one of God’s most effective tools for accomplishing that. As John Flavel explains, “…there are rank weeds springing up in the best soil which need such winter weather to rot them. And certainly if we reckon humility, heavenly mindedness, contempt of the world, and longing desires after heaven to be the real interest and advantage of the church; then it is evident, nothing so much promotes their interest as a suffering condition does; Adversity kills those corruptions which prosperity bred.”

It’s good to be holy. If we don’t endure the trials God brings into our lives we won’t become as holy as He desires and as a result we’ll miss the blessing holiness brings.

God uses trials to remind us of what is really valuable.

Have you ever taken someone you love to a really expensive restaurant and they order something cheap? That’s one of the ways I sometimes frustrate my wife. We’ll go to a nice restaurant and I’ll order a salad. And she’ll be disappointed and try to get me to change my order because she says I can order a salad anywhere. She thinks since we are at a fancy restaurant I should order something really good. She loves me so she wants the best for me.

God loves us and wants the best for us. He wants us to enjoy what’s really good: eternal things. But sometimes we like temporal things more. So He uses trials to get our attention and help fix our attention on our heavenly hope.

The more our trials hurt, the more we want to be with Jesus.

If you don’t endure, you’re going to miss that blessing. You’re going to continually fill yourself up with that which is trivial and ignore that which is most valuable.

God uses trials to make us more dependent on Him.

Trials reveal how much we need God’s help. When we prosper Satan tempts us to trust in our prosperity rather than in Christ alone. Trials awaken us to reality, and teach us to pray. And if you escape the trial by compromising, you’re not going to learn how good it is to depend on God alone.

God uses trials to equip us to better help others who are experiencing trials.

Paul rejoices in 2 Corinthians 1:3,4 because although he is suffering, God “comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” He understood that God was allowing him to suffer so that he could help others.

Elisabeth Elliot explains, “No matter how monstrous an evil may have been perpetrated against us, both by intention and act (think of Joseph’s brother’s treatment of him) it is mysteriously transformed into great good by Him who is the Lord of the Universe and my Redeemer. It took Joseph’s sufferings to accomplish God’s will for Israel. The sufferer himself became the redeemer for his father and his hateful brothers. They meant it for evil. God meant it for good. The portion assigned to me each day is precisely measured by God, not only for my good…but also – let me not forget, for the good of all the others whose portions He is allotting…If your life is broken when given to Jesus, it may because pieces will feed a multitude when a loaf would satisfy only a little lad.”

Escape your trial unbiblically and you’re not only hurting yourself, you are hurting other believers – because you are not going to be able to as effectively minister to them when they need it most!

God uses trials to prove our faith is genuine.

James explains, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial for once he has been approved…” The word approved comes from the Greek word ‘dokimos.’ Greek writers often used this term to describe coins that had been tested and shown to be genuine.

Jay Adams explains, “a coin was put through various tests in order to assure that it was solid. When it rang true, it was declared approved. Christians are also approved by means of being subjected to tests. In trials, they too will ring true…To be rewarded the believer must not only be tested but also be attested as having shown himself genuine. The aorist participle ‘having been proved’ denotes that the testing has effectively demonstrated his character as firm and reliable. Each new test the believer successfully endures adds fresh proof of his fidelity to God and contributes to his approved character.”

Recently I listened to a testimony my uncle gave about a month or two before he died from cancer. Although his circumstances were difficult, his testimony was not sad but full of joy. One of the reasons he gave for being so full of joy was rather unusual. He explained that his life had been relatively easy up to that point and he had faith in God but it had never really been tested. But now that he had cancer and was facing death his faith was tried and it was stronger than ever.

It gave him such joy to know that his faith was real and wasn’t dependent on his circumstances. If he hadn’t endured he would never have known that blessing. He wouldn’t have had the assurance that his faith was the real thing.

When you are in a trial and you are tempted to give up, (when you know what God wants you to do but you don’t want to do it because it seems too hard) you need to remember that it’s good to steadfastly and joyously obey God in the midst of trials because of all that God is doing in your life as you continue to endure.

Although it may not feel like it, God is promoting your happiness when He brings trials into your life. He’s doing so because He wants what is best for you.

But notice, in verse 12, James doesn’t merely say, “Blessed is a man who endures trials for he will be approved…” No, he continues “Blessed is a man who perseveres for once he has been approved he will receive the crown of life.”

It’s good to endure trials because endurance does not only benefit you in this life – endurance also benefits you in the life to come. God is going to give something to those who endure that he is not going to give to those who don’t…which we’ll look at in the days to come.

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