CONSIDER IT ALL JOY, MY
BRETHREN, WHEN YOU ENCOUNTER VARIOUS TRIALS: Pasan charan egesasthe,
(2PAMM) adelphoi mou, hotan peirasmois peripesete (2PAAS) poikilois:
(Jas 1:12; Mt 5:10, 11, 12; Lk 6:22,23; Ac 5:41; Ro 8:17,18,35,
36, 37; 2Co 12:9; 2Co 12:10; Php 1:29; 2:17; Col 1:24; He 10:34; 1Pe
4:13, 14, 15, 16)
With all joy be rejoicing my
Related Resource: See notes
for comments on trials/temptations.
Although it is a paraphrase, Phillips really strikes the right
chord rendering it...
When all kinds of trials and
temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don't resent them as
intruders, but welcome them as friends!
count yourselves supremely happy
(New English Bible)
Notice that James does not offer
thanksgiving for his readers or a prayer for their needs, and in fact
no where suggests that James necessarily had personal contact with his
readers. So without fanfare he jumps the difficult topic of trials,
even beginning with a command!
it all joy - The literal
rendering emphasizes the call to joy even more pointedly --
"All joy count it"! On the "surface", this command is one of the most
difficult in all the Bible in my opinion. It ranks up there with "in
everything give thanks". And yet we know that God is not trying to
frustrate us or defeat us but to conform us to the image of His Son
and in so doing He wastes no circumstance, no adversity, no
affliction, no sickness, no success, no failure, etc, in achieving His
end, which in fact He will achieve (cp Phil 1:6-note,
God never commands to do His will in any area, that He does not also
supply us the grace and power necessary to fulfill it (2Cor 12:9, 10,
Phil 4:11, 12, 13-notes).
James is not saying the trials are
joyful in themselves but are a means to an end which is joyful. In
other words, joy in trials comes from knowing that the outcome will be
good. It's as if while in the trial, we have a future focused mindset,
because we know that the trial in the hands of the good and loving
Potter is not without value regarding the sculpting of our character.
We must lay hold of this truth that a loving Father allows (sometimes
sends) trials in our lives, not to impair us but to improve us. Not to
destroy us but to develop us. In other words, our Father takes us into
His darkroom to develop our character not destroy it. In his
explanation of why believers should regard not think lightly of God's
discipline, the writer of Hebrews reminds of the promised "fruit"
All discipline (paideia
- word study) for
the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who
have been trained (gumnazo
- the perfect tense here speaks of the enduring results of the effect
of this training) by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of
righteousness. (Heb 12:11-note)
The work of God transforms us
And makes us like His Son;
He works through trials and testings
Until our life is done. --Sper
Several NT passages speak of the
value of "trials" of various sorts...
Blessed are those who have been
persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of
heaven (Jesus is not saying persecution earns us heaven but that the
fact that we are persecuted for the sake of His Name is strong proof
that we belong to Jesus and not to this world). Blessed are you when
men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil
against you falsely, on account of Me (Why are we blessed? Read
= make this your continual, habitual practice) and
= make this your continual, habitual practice), for your reward in
heaven is great (Not just that you have a "reward" but that the reward
is even "great"! What encouragement this truth should be for suffering
saints!), for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mt
5:10, 11, 12 -
Blessed are you when men hate you,
and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as
evil, for the sake of the Son of Man (Note the "qualifier" - "for the
sake of the Son of Man" = we are one in covenant with Jesus and when
we suffer, He suffers. Make sure your suffering meets the criteria of
"for His sake"!). Be glad
- Command. Do this now. Don't delay) in that day, and
- Command. Do this now. Don't delay) , for behold, your reward is
great in heaven; for in the same way their fathers used to treat the
prophets. (Lk 6:22, 23)
So (Peter, et al) they went on
their way from the presence of the Council (the Jewish Sanhedrin in
Jerusalem, composed primarily if not solely of unsaved Jews),
rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His
name. (Acts 5:41, 42 context = Acts 5:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27,
28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33ff) (Beloved this has to be one of the most
convicting verses in the Bible -- "worthy to suffer shame"! The
antithesis of the world's way of thinking.)
and if children, heirs also, heirs
of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him
(Note "with Him" - we suffer He suffers. We suffer, but not alone! We
suffer but not in vain. Why? What is the result?) in order that we may
also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this
present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to
be revealed to us. (Ro 8:17, 18-see
notes, cp 2Cor 4:17, 18)
from ágo = to lead) primarily signifies to lead and then to
consider. The picture is that of one leading his or her mind through a
reasoning process to arrive at a conclusion. Considering (hegeomai)
involves careful thought, not quick decision. It involves a conscious
judgment resting on deliberate weighing of the facts. It denotes
deliberate and careful judgment stemming from external proof, not
subjective judgment based on feelings.
Hegeomai and calls for a mental evaluation adopted as the
result of due deliberation, the conscious acceptance of a definite
Hegeomai is also a mathematical term which says "Think about it
and come to a conclusion."
is a command calling for action, and can even convey a sense of
urgency. It is also a command because it is not our natural response
to trials. They are to regard their experiences of testing as the
ground for all joy, not
just part joy! But remember that God never commands us to do anything which
He does not enable or empower.
Our values determine our
evaluations. If we value comfort more than character, then trials will
upset us. If we value the material and physical more than the
spiritual, we will not be able to ‘count it all joy!’ If we live only
for the present and forget about the future, the trials will make us
bitter, not better.
Peter gives a command which
is similar to that of James, writing that...
to the degree that you share the
sufferings of Christ,
keep on rejoicing (present
= Command to make it your habit to rejoice in your trials. Why? Read
on); so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with
exultation. (1Pe 4:13-note)
In a similar exhortation, Paul
and not only this (exult in hope of
the glory of God), but we also exult in our tribulations,
knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance and perseverance,
proven character; and proven character, hope and hope does not
disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our
hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Ro 5:3, 4, 5 -see
And Paul practiced what he
preached, for even though unfairly thrown in prison...
about midnight Paul and Silas were
praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were
listening to them and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that
the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all
the doors were opened, and everyone's chains were unfastened. (Acts
the meaning is not that suffering
is the occasion for all the joy there is, but that it should occasion
only joy, unmixed with other reactions. New Testament usage of "all"
(pas) tended to support the latter meaning (Php 2:29; 1Ti 2:2; Titus
2:10; 3:2; 1Pe 2:18) (Ibid)
The paradox of "all joy in trials" is
not normal but supernormal. In other words, joy in trials is not a natural
reaction but must be a supernatural reaction. Ultimately, it seems to me,
that the man or woman who is most able to obey this command is the one
who is walking by the Spirit, filled with the Spirit, controlled by
the Spirit. As the believer yields to the Spirit, making the
determined choice of his will, he or she is enabled to manifest joy
For example, recall the exhortation of the writer of Hebrews to
our eyes on (by faith turning our
eyes away from earthly things and fixing them on) Jesus, the Author
and Perfecter of faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured
the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of
the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2-note)
Comment: And as Peter said
"Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to
follow in His steps" 1Peter 2:23 -note
Poole comments that we are
esteem it so by a spiritual
judgment, though the flesh judge otherwise.
Hegeomai - 28x in 21v
in the NT - Mt. 2:6; Lk. 22:26; Acts 7:10; 14:12; 15:22; 26:2; 2Co.
9:5; Phil. 2:3, 6, 25; 3:7, 3:8; 1Th 5:13; 2Th 3:15; 1Ti 1:12; 6:1;
Heb. 10:29; 11:11, 26; 13:7, 17, 24; James. 1:2; 2Pet. 1:13; 2:13;
Hegeomai in the NAS is translated
= chief(1), consider(3),
considered(2), considering(1), count(4), counted(1),
esteem(1),governor(1), leader(1), leaders(3), leading(1), led(1),
regard(5), regarded(1), Ruler(1), thought(2).
Day by day and with each passing
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
All joy -
"Whole joy", unmixed joy, without admixture of sorrow, not just "some
joy" along with much grief! How is this possible? The Spirit produces
His joy in us (Gal 5:22-notes).
The translations render it - wholly joyful (Amp), pure joy (ISV,
Moffatt), complete joy (Berkley), nothing but joy (NET), unadulterated
joy (Wuest), highest joy (Grotius)
John MacArthur explains that all joy...
variously interpreted by commentators as meaning pure joy, unmixed
joy, complete and total joy, or sheer joy. From the context, it seems
that all of those meanings are fitting. James is speaking of a unique
fullness of joy that the Lord graciously provides His children when
they willingly and uncomplainingly endure troubles while trusting in
Him—regardless of the cause, type, or severity of the distress. He
will always use them for our benefit and for His own glory. It is not
because of some sort of religious masochism, but rather a sincere
trust in the promise and goodness of our Lord, that we can look on
trials as a welcome friend, knowing with Joseph that what may have
been meant for evil against us, God means for good (Ge 50:20; cf.
not just to act joyful, in reluctant pretense, but to be genuinely
joyful. It is a matter of will, not of feelings, and should be the
conscious, determined commitment of every faithful believer. And
because God commands it, it is within the ability, under the Spirit’s
provision, of every true Christian. When faith in Jesus Christ is
genuine, James assures us, even the worst of troubles can and should
be cause for thanksgiving and rejoicing.
we rejoice in our testings, the more we realize that they are not
liabilities but privileges, ultimately beneficial and not harmful, no
matter how destructive and painful the immediate experience of them
might appear. When we face trials with the attitude that James
admonishes, we discover that the greatest part of the joy is drawing
closer to the Lord—the Source of all joy—by becoming more sensitive to
His presence, His goodness, His love, and His grace. Our prayer life
increases, as does our interest in and study of the Word, and in each
of those ways our joy increases all the more.
J. James. Moody or
Commenting on consider it all joy, Epp remarks that...
joy does not necessarily mean we will be hilarious and laughing about
the trials we are experiencing, but it means we will have a
deep-seated confidence that God knows what He is doing and that the
results will be for His glory and our good. (Theodore Epp: James the
Epistle of Applied Christianity)
Note that James is not commanding believers to enjoy their
trials which in themselves are grievous not joyful. If this were
his intent, James would be calling for a stoic like resignation, in
which the one simply "grins and bears" the trial. To the contrary,
James is saying that believers should (and can) see their trials not
so much as obstacles but as opportunities, which when "leavened" with
God's grace, prove to be "fertilizer" for growth in Christ-likeness.
Trials when seen with eyes of faith (cp He 11:1-note;
2Co 5:7) can then be accepted as God's tools for producing beneficial
results and can then be occasions for rejoicing. As an aside, James is
not a masochist and is not calling for us to seek out or needlessly
rush into trials.
One thinks in fact of Jesus'
words that we are to pray "lead us not into testing (temptation)" (Mt
regarding which Mayor comments...
One who is conscious of his own
weakness may without inconsistency pray that he may be kept out of
temptation, and yet, when he is brought into it through no fault of
his own but by God's providential ordering, he may feel such trust in
Divine support as to rejoice in an opportunity of proving his
Cole writes that...
Biblical joy in times of
trials is not natural optimism. It is the joy of hope (Ed:
absolute assurance of future good) in God and His sure promises. This
radical attitude results from a deliberate choice. The choice is,
“Will I trust in God and His promises, or not?” As James says, it is
our faith that is being tested. We do not know if our faith is genuine
until it stands up under the test. You can buy a jacket that claims to
be waterproof. If you wear it on dry days, you have not put the jacket
to the test. The test of that jacket is, if you get caught in a
downpour, does it keep you dry? If it does, you say, “That’s a good
jacket!” It’s easy to proclaim, “I trust in God!” Anybody can say
that. But, the test of your faith is when you really do choose to
trust God in a severe trial. Afterwards, you know that your faith is
genuine, because it brought you through the trial. But the point is,
when you are faced with a trial, you have a choice: Will I trust God
and the promises of His Word, as I have professed to do, or not? To
trust God and experience His hope and joy in the midst of trials is a
radical attitude that James commands us to adopt. (Steven
Cole - James 1:1-4 A
Radical Approach to Trials - Excellent Resource - His Sermons
are highly recommended)
COUNT IT JOY
by Susan Peterson
Count it joy, and
never be discouraged,
When by trials your life is sorely pressed.
For you know that when your faith is tested,
Your endurance then develops best.
Perseverance must complete its working;
You will need to let it have its way.
When it’s done, you’ll be complete and perfect,
Having all you need to meet each day.
So if any one of you lacks wisdom,
Ask of God, who always hears and cares.
He gives freely without asking questions;
His abundance will become your share.
But when asking, you must never falter,
Like a wave that’s blown and tossed about.
If you do, you’ll never gain God’s blessing;
Double-minded, you’ll succumb to doubt.
Blest the man who perseveres in trial;
For you know the testing soon will pass.
When it’s o’er and you have stood unmoving,
You’ll receive the crown of life at last.
But when tempted, never be accusing;
It’s not God who leads you from the path.
Your own lusts seduce you and entice you,
Giving birth to sin, and sin to death.
Do not let yourself yield to deception;
God’s the source of every perfect gift.
He’s the Maker of the stars in heaven,
Changing not as shadows move and shift.
For He chose a spirit birth to give you,
Through the Word of truth that you believed.
Thus are you the firstfruits of His labors;
By His grace, salvation is achieved.
from chaíro = to rejoice) describes an attitude
which is cheerful and glad. It is a
a sense of inner gladness, delight or rejoicing.
Secular dictionaries define
joy as the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune
or the emotion evoked by the prospect of possessing what one desires.
The world's definition of joy is therefore virtually synonymous
with the definition of happiness, for both of these "emotions" are
dependent on what "happens" The world's joy is the emotion
evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of
possessing what one desires. The Bible defines joy as a gift of
God, a fruit of His Spirit, which is independent of circumstances.
is joy in human life, such as joy when one experiences a
victory (" We will sing for joy over your victory, and in the
name of our God we will set up our banners. May the LORD fulfill all
your petitions." Ps 20:5
or reaps a bountiful harvest (see Is 9:3), but more often the
Bible speaks of joy in a spiritual sense. For example, Nehemiah
declared to the down in the mouth (not very filled with joy) Jews that
"The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh 8:10).
Similarly, David pleaded with God to “restore to me the joy of Thy
salvation” (Ps 51:12
It is not surprising that joy and rejoicing are found most frequently
in the Psalms (about 80 references) and the Gospels (about 40
the deep-down sense of well-being that abides in the heart of the
person who knows all is well between himself and the Lord. It is not
an experience that comes from favorable circumstances but even occurs
when those circumstances are the most painful and severe as Jesus
taught His disciples declaring...
Truly, truly, I say to you, that
you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be
sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy. 21 "Whenever
a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but
when she gives birth to the child, she remembers the anguish no more,
for joy that a child has been born into the world. 22
"Therefore you too now have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your
heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from
you. (John 16:20-22)
the Resident Source of joy within for as as Paul teaches
the fruit of the Spirit is love,
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (Galatians
fluctuations cannot disturb this Source of joy. Note Paul’s statement
of this confidence (Phil 3:20-note). Joy
not only does not come from favorable human circumstances but is
sometimes greatest when those circumstances are the most painful and
Warren Wiersbe defines
that inward peace and sufficiency
that is not affected by outward circumstances. (A case in point is
Paul’s experience recorded in Phil 4:10, 11, 12, 13ff-see
notes) This "holy
optimism" keeps him going in spite of difficulties.
(He adds) Our values determine our evaluations. If we value comfort
more than character, then trials will upset us. If we value the
material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to
‘count it all joy!’ If we live only for the present and forget the
future, the trials will make us bitter, not better
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor
The Baker Encyclopedia
adds that joy is a...
Positive human condition that can
be either feeling or action. The Bible uses joy in both senses. Joy is
a feeling called forth by well-being, success, or good fortune. A
person automatically experiences it because of certain favorable
circumstances. It cannot be commanded. The shepherd experienced joy
when he found his lost sheep (Mt 18:13). The multitude felt it when
Jesus healed a Jewish woman whom Satan had bound for 18 years (Lk
13:17). The disciples returned to Jerusalem rejoicing after Jesus’
ascension (Lk 24:52). Joy was also the feeling of the church at
Antioch when its members heard the Jerusalem Council’s decision that
they did not have to be circumcised and keep the Law (Acts 15:31).
Paul mentioned his joy in hearing about the obedience of the Roman
Christians (Ro 16:19-note).
shows that the emotion cannot be
commanded. The Jews’ captors wanted them to sing in the land of their
exile, something they were unable to do. Faraway Jerusalem was their
chief joy (Ps 137:6-
There is a joy that Scripture
commands. That joy is action that can be engaged in regardless of how
the person feels. Proverbs 5:18 (note)
tells the reader to rejoice in the wife of his youth, without
reference to what she may be like. Christ instructed his disciples to
rejoice when they were persecuted, reviled, and slandered (Mt 5:11-note,
The apostle Paul commanded continuous rejoicing (Phil 4:4-note;
W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids,
Mich.: Baker Book House)
(See also article on
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical
My brethren (Jas 1:2; 2:1, 14; 3:1, 10, 12; 5:12, 19) -
He is referring to true believers addressing them with a feeling of
warmth and love, as well as identification, which would assure them
that they are not alone in their trials. He later refers to them as
"beloved brethren" again emphasizing his pastoral affection for them
(Jas 1:16, 19, 2:5). As an aside brethren does not exclude "sistern"
or sisters in Christ - "my brothers and sisters" is therefore quite
Poole writes that James uses my brethren...
both as being of the same nation and the same religion; so he calls
them, that the kindness of his compellation might sweeten his
Hiebert adds that my brethren denotes James'...
personal feelings toward his readers. He accepts them as members with
him of one spiritual community, as fellow members of the family of
God. Therefore, "what James has to say applies only to born-again
Christians." The possessive "my" expresses his own
consciousness of his equality with them as brothers and that as their
brother he is concerned about their trials. Fanar remarks, "The
perpetual recurrence of this word shows that the wounds which St.
James inflicts are meant to be the faithful wounds of a friend."' He
eagerly draws his readers to himself as he seeks to minister to their
needs. In the pagan world, the term (brethren) was used of a
fellow member in some restricted secular group or of members of a
particular religious society. Among the Jews, the term was used to
denote a fellow Israelite. The early Christians readily employ the
term as expressive of their consciousness that as believers in Christ
they were all members of one spiritual family. The use of this
designation in the early church was apparently stimulated by the
teaching of Jesus in Mk 3:35 and Mt 23:8. (Ibid)
When you encounter... - Note carefully James does not say "if"
but "when" referring not to possibility but to inevitability!
Trials are not an elective, but a required course in the "school of
Christ"! Trials then are an expected/guaranteed element of the normal
Christian life, and so, beloved, as Peter says
Do not be surprised
imperative + negative = command to stop
continually being surprised!) at the fiery trial among you which comes
upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening
to you (1Pe 4:12-note)
To be sure, most of us are either in a trial, just coming out of
one or on the verge of entering a new
one. Such is the common lot of mankind (cp 1Cor 10:13 [see
Commenting on "when" Hiebert
The use of the indefinite temporal
construction (hotan with the subjunctive), "whenever ye [may] fall
into," indicates that they tend to come at an undetermined time. Their
arrival cannot be pinpointed beforehand. They may he expected at
Steven Cole makes the
important point that...
Many Christians naively think that
if they obey the Lord, they will be spared from any trials. When
trials hit them, they are confused and often angry at God: “I was
following You! Why did You allow this to happen?” But the Bible gives
abundant testimony that all of God’s saints encounter trials. And
these trials are not necessarily the consequence of disobedience.
Rather, God uses them to test our faith. They will be varied according
to His sovereign purpose. We cannot understand why He sends the
particular trials that He does, but whatever they are, we can know
that they are from Him. (Steven
Cole - James 1:1-4 A
Radical Approach to Trials - Excellent Resource - His Sermons
are highly recommended)
Notice that while the world says
"consider it joy when you escape trials", James says "No, consider it
joy when you are in the midst of trials!"
The Psalmist writes that...
Weeping may last for the night, but
a shout of joy comes in the morning (Ps 30:5)
from peri = around + pipto = to fall, to fall into, to
fall down) means literally to fall around, and so to fall in with or
among (trials, Jas 1:2, robbers Lk 10:30). In one NT context
peripipto means to mover toward something and strike against it
This verb can also convey the sense
of falling into something suddenly or unexpectedly -- isn't that what
most trials do? They "jump" on us and catch us off guard! I like the
picture presented by the Amplified version "whenever you are
enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various
temptations." The picture is one encompassed by these trials,
something with which we can all readily identify!
Friberg writes that
peripateo means to...
as coming onto a situation
accidentally and becoming innocently involved; literally, of mishaps
encounter; of robbers fall into the hands of, be seized by (Lk 10:30)
Some secular uses of peripipto
include as a description of ships meeting by chance at sea
(Herodotus), to encounter unjust judgments, to be caught in
one's own snare (Herodotus), to fall on one side (Plutarch).
Hiebert adds that peripipto
that these trials are unavoidable.
Like the thieves who surrounded the man on the Jericho road (see Lk
10:30 below), such adverse situations unexpectedly surround the
believer with no escape. The compound verb (peripipto), which pictures
these trials as encircling the believer, implies that the reference is
not to minor little irritations but to larger adverse experiences that
cannot be avoided. The reference is to various adversities,
afflictions, and calamities that are hard to bear. The reference is
not specifically to religious persecutions, although they were a
prominent part in the experiences of the readers. Martin, indeed,
holds that these trials "are better understood as signs of oppression
and persecution endured for one's religious convictions."' (Ibid)
Peripipto is used only 3
times in the NT...
Luke 10:30 Jesus replied and
said, "A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he
fell among (peripipto) robbers, and they stripped him
and beat him, and went off leaving him half dead."
Comment: The preposition
peri "around" (in peripipto) pictures the certain man as
being completely surrounded by the thieves on all sides, with no way
of escape, and thus unavoidably "falling" victim to their assaults.
Acts 27:41 But striking
(KJV = striking into; peripipto) a reef where two seas met, they ran
the vessel aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable,
but the stern began to be broken up by the force of the waves.
There are 4 uses in the Septuagint (Da 2:9 plus the 3 uses
Ruth 2:3 So
she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and
she happened (Lxx = peripipto) (Lxx adds by chance = periptoma
= by accident) to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz,
who was of the family of Elimelech.
2 Samuel 1:6
And the young man who told him said, "By chance (periptoma = by
accident) I happened (Lxx = peripipto) to be on Mount
Gilboa, and behold, Saul was leaning on his spear. And behold, the
chariots and the horsemen pursued him closely.
The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way, but the wicked
will fall (Lxx = peripipto) by his own wickedness.
Matthew Poole comments that peripipto conveys the
when you are so beset
and circumvented by them, that there is no of escaping them, but they
come upon you, though by the direction of God’s providence, yet not by
your own seeking. “Divers temptations;” so he calls afflictions,
from God’s end in them, which is to try and discover what is in men,
and whether they will cleave to Him or not.
Samuel Rutherford emphasizes the certainty of trials writing
You will not get
leave to steal quietly to heaven without a conflict and a cross.
The Puritan Thomas Watson agreed writing...
Though Christ died to
take away the curse from us, yet not to take away the cross from us.
How can I look to be
at home in the enemy's country, joyful while in exile, or comfortable
in a wilderness? This is not my rest. This is the place of the furnace
and the forge and the hammer.
To those servants of God whom He purposes to use in a larger,
greater way, many trials are allowed to come (they are necessary),
we must be ground
between the millstones of suffering before we can be bread for the
J C Ryle explains that
Every cross is a
message from God and intended to do us good in the end.
Matthew Henry adds
These troubles, that
lie heavy, never come upon us but when we have need, and never stay
any longer than needs must.
John Newton describes these trials as like
medicines which our
gracious and wise Physician prescribes, because we need them; and He
proportions the frequency and weight of them to what the case
J. Vernon McGee in his pithy style adds
I know it is not at
all popular to teach that God will prove us and lead us on to maturity
through suffering. People would rather be encouraged to think that
they are somebody important and that they can do great things on their
own. My friend, we are nothing until the Spirit of God begins to move
in our hearts and lives. We have nothing to offer to God. He has
everything to offer to us. (McGee,
J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
Warren Wiersbe adds that the encouraging note that
We must keep in mind
that all God plans and performs here is preparation for what He has in
store for us in heaven. He is preparing us for the life and service
yet to come. Nobody yet knows all that is in store for us in heaven,
but we do know that life on earth is a school in which God trains us
for our future ministry in eternity. This explains the presence of
trials in our lives for they are some of God’s tools and textbooks in
the school of Christian experience. (Wiersbe,
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
Cole comments that...
Some of the readers
had probably been members of the church in Jerusalem, but they had
scattered into many locations because of the persecution that arose
after the death of Stephen (Acts 8:1; 11:19, 20). Because of
anti-Semitism in the Roman Empire, these believers in Christ were
often the brunt of hostility both from the pagan world, as well as
from their own people. Word got back to James of some of the
difficulties that these brethren were encountering: affliction from
without (Jas 5:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and, as often happens at such times,
conflicts within (Jas 2:1-13; 4:1-12). Some were lapsing into a
superficial, formal religion that professed orthodox beliefs, but
practiced selfish, ungodly lifestyles (Jas 1:22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27;
Jas 2:14-26; Jas 3:9, 10, 11, 12). As a pastor, James writes to these
scattered Jewish believers to make the point: True faith shows itself
in practical, godly living. He develops several themes: endurance
through trials; the dangers of riches and encouragement to the poor;
the law and love; faith and works; the coming of the Lord; and,
humility. But his main point is that true biblical faith works.
Cole - James 1:1-4 A Radical Approach to Trials - Excellent Resource -
His Sermons are highly recommended)
means existence in various kinds or modes, diversified, manifold,
variegated, many colored. Poikilos was used to describe the
skin of a leopard, the different-colored veining of marble or a robe embroidered
with many different colors and thence passes into the meaning of changeful,
diversified, applied to the changing months or the variations of a
strain of music. Poikilos stresses not the number of trials but
the great variety or diversity of the trials, "multicolored", like
Joseph's coat of many colors (Ge 37:3 - where Lxx for "many" =
In Mt 4:24 poikilos is used
of the great variety of torments of body and mind among the people
whom Jesus healed. In He 2:4 poikilos describes the variety of the
manifestations of God's power in connection with the preaching of the
Various trials would
include those common to all men as well as those related to the fact
that they are believers (cp 2Ti 3:12)
Peter writes to believers
experiencing fiery trials...
In this you greatly rejoice
(continually "jump for joy" - there is no way this would be possible
in our natural state - it has to speak of Spirit enabled supernatural
ability to rejoice! It speaks of the believer's moment by moment need
to submit to and depend on the Spirit, walking by the Spirit - Gal
even though now for a little while, if (the idea is since they are...)
necessary you have been
by various (poikilos)
trials (1 Peter 1:6-note,
read 1Pe 1:7 [note]
which gives the context to help understand how future hope energizes
But note that God's provision for
our "multicolored" trials is "multicolored" grace...
As each one has received a special
gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the
grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10-note)
Comment: God's grace is
sufficient for every trial whatever its color.
God will certainly prune us but never without purpose, for as
Vance Havner said...
The grace, the groans
and the glory are all part of the eternal purpose. Where there is no
groaning there is no growing now, nor glory to come.
Guy King gives an interesting illustration
of manifold grace from manifold trials
find that Peter joins Paul in magnifying the grace of GOD. There is an
interesting Greek word, poikilos, which occurs several times in
the New Testament, and which Peter uses twice, both in his First
Epistle, and which is translated "manifold":
"Ye are in heaviness, through manifold temptations," (1Pe 1:6-note)
"Good stewards of the manifold grace of GOD," (1Pe 4:10-note)
those two things together.
the one hand, let the five digits, all so different in character, from
the thumb to the little finger, stand for the manifold trials
and testings of life. On the other hand, let the five digits stand for
the manifold grace. Now put the right hand over the left, and
observe how the fingers of the grace hand exactly correspond to
those of the temptations hand.
Only an illustration; but an
illustration of a beautiful fact - that whatever may be the need,
there is at hand just the very grace to meet it.
Colossians 4:15-18 His Kind Regard)
unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
Poikilos gives a
vivid picture of the diversity and varied aspects and appearances of
the trials that affect believers, not their number, which is
left to be inferred.
Our troubles may
be many-coloured, but so is the grace of God; There is no color in the
human situation which grace cannot match. There is a grace to match
every trial and there is no trial without its grace...
All kinds of experiences will
come to us. There will be the test of the sorrows and the
disappointments which seek to take our faith away. There will be the
test of the seductions which seek to lure us from the right way. There
will be the tests of the dangers, the sacrifices, the unpopularity
which the Christian way must so often involve. But they are not meant
to make us fall; they are meant to make us soar. They are not meant to
defeat us; they are meant to be defeated. They are not meant to make
us weaker; they are meant to make us stronger. Therefore we should not
bemoan them; we should rejoice in them. The Christian is like the
athlete. The heavier the course of training he undergoes, the more he
is glad, because he knows that it is fitting him all the better for
victorious effort. As Browning said, we must “welcome each rebuff
that turns earth’s smoothness rough,” for every hard thing is another
step on the upward way. (Barclay,
W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The
= to make trial of, try, tempt, prove in either a good
or bad sense) describes first the idea of putting to the test and then
refers to the tests or pressures that come in order to discover a
person’s nature or the quality of some thing. Think of yourself as a
tube of "spiritual toothpaste". Pressure brings out what's really on
that some translations render peirasmos with the word temptations
(ASV, TLB, Wesley, Young's Literal, Amplified, Darby, KJV), but the
context does not suggest that it is being used in the sense of
solicitation to evil or temptation to sin (as in Jas 1:13,14) for one
would hardly be urged to rejoice in such a setting.
Hiebert notes that...
The noun peirasmos denotes a
testing being directed toward an end, to discover the nature or
quality of the object or person tested. The verbal form peirazo
denotes the action of putting something or someone to the test. Such a
test may be applied with either a good or bad intention. In a good
sense, the test may be applied in order to demonstrate the strength or
good quality of the object tested. When the testing is applied with
the evil aim that the object will be led to fail under testing, then
the thought of temptation comes in. Since it is a melancholy fact that
men often break down under the testings of life, the term peirasmos is
often used with the meaning of temptation, a solicitation to evil.
Under either meaning, the term "has always the idea of probation
associated with it."' Both the noun and the verb are rare in secular
Greek,' but they are common in the Septuagint and the New Testament.
Since the Scriptures are concerned with moral values, the concept of
testing is an essential one in the Bible.
In human experience, the two aspects of testing and temptation may be
closely related. That which is intended as a test may in fact become a
temptation for the person tested because of his inner response to the
situation. Well aware of this close connection in actual experience,
James deals with both aspects of peirasmoi in this opening section of
his epistle. In Jas 1:2-12 he deals with the nature and use of
external tests that come to the believer in daily life, while in Jas
1:13, 14, 15, 16 he deals with the experience of temptation to evil.
In Jas 1:17,18 he shows that God's beneficent activities toward the
believer establish that He cannot be associated with peirasmos in the
sense of solicitation to evil. God does test the faith of His people,
but He does not allure them to evil. (Ibid)
Peirasmos is trial or testing
directed towards an end, and the end is that he who is tested should
emerge stronger and
purer from the testing.
Peirasmos connotes trouble or something that breaks the pattern of
peace, comfort, joy, and happiness in someone’s life. Trials
rightly faced are in fact beneficial to the saint as Peter (and James
1 explain), but wrongly received and processed can "evolve" into
temptations to commit sins. It is axiomatic that Satan tempts
us to bring out the worst in us while God tests us to bring out
the best for He ever seeks to make us more like His Son.
It is not surprising to see James use the related verb
peirazo (to test or to tempt) to describe temptations (Jas 1:13,
14). As most believers have experienced, trials which God
allows too often become sources of temptation to sin. If
we choose to react to the trial based on feelings and/or emotions, it
is likely that our fallen
will deceive and
impel us to react inappropriately. However, if we act
(contrast with react) in faith (in God - His sovereignty [He is in
control - Da 4:35, Ps 115:3, 135:6, Isa 46:10, 11], in His
faithfulness [He won't test us beyond what we can bear - He knows our
"load limits"! - 1Cor 10:13-note],
in and by His grace [His power is perfected in our weakness, 2Co 12:9,
10], in His promises [momentary affliction will yield eternal glory
beyond comparison - 2Co 4:16, 17, 18], etc) then the trials instead of
seducing us to sin, strengthen us to grow more like the Savior (cp 2Pe
Jamieson comments that...
Every possible trial to the child of God is a masterpiece of strategy
of the Captain of his salvation for his good.
reminds us that...
God often puts us in
situations that are too much for us so that we will learn that no
situation is too much for Him.
Notice that James
does not say that the trial will necessarily "feel good", and in fact
it usually does not, which emphasizes the importance of acting based
on faith rather than reacting based on feelings/emotions.
Matthew Henry observes that...
God's design in
afflicting His people is their probation (Ed: the act of
proving or testing), not their destruction; their advantage, not their
The Puritan saint Richard Sibbes rightly said that
God promises no
immunity from crosses.
Spurgeon aptly adds that...
There are no
crown-wearers in heaven that were not cross-bearers here below.
John Calvin adds that these necessary trials...
are not afflicted by
chance, but through the infallible providence of God.
Why should I complain
Of want or distress,
Temptation or pain?
He told me no less;
The heirs of salvation,
I know from his Word,
Through much tribulation
Must follow their Lord.
ARE YOU IN THE
principles if you are being tested even as you read these notes. Trust
God and His Word of Truth and Life. Choose to act, not to react.
as J C Ryle once said...
Trials are intended
to make us think, to wean us from the world, to send us to the Bible,
to drive us to our knees. (Amen! So be it!)... Settle it firmly in our
minds that there is a meaning, a needs-be and a message from God in
every sorrow that falls upon us... There are no lessons so useful as
those learned in the school of affliction... (and be encouraged for)
The tools that the great Architect intends to use much are often kept
long in the fire, to temper them and fit them for work
Spurgeon explains the great value of his personal trials
I am afraid that all
the grace that I have got out of my comfortable and easy times and
happy hours might almost lie on a penny. But the good that I have
received from my sorrows, and pains, and griefs, is altogether
incalculable. What do I not owe to the crucible and the furnace, the
bellows that have blown up the coals, and the hand which has thrust me
into the heat?... I bear my witness that the worst days I have ever
had have turned out to be my best days... I can bear my personal
testimony that the best piece of furniture that I ever had in the
house was a cross. I do not mean a material cross; I mean the cross of
affliction and trouble.... In shunning a trial we are seeking to avoid
John Macarthur has an excellent illustration and explanation
of the purpose of "trials" (temptations). He writes
To test the
genuineness of a diamond, jewelers often place it in clear water,
which causes a real diamond to sparkle with special brilliance. An
imitation stone, on the other hand, will have almost no sparkle at
all. When the two are placed side by side, even an untrained eye can
easily tell the difference. In a similar way, even the world can often
notice the marked differences between genuine Christians and those who
merely profess faith in Christ. As with jewels, there is a noticeable
difference in radiance, especially when people are undergoing
difficult times. Many people have great confidence in their faith
until it is severely tested by hardships and disappointments. How a
person handles trouble will reveal whether his faith is living or
dead, genuine or imitation, saving or non-saving. (Macarthur
J. James. 1998. Moody)
William MacDonald writes that...
In this section
James deals with the subject of temptation. He uses the word in two
different senses. In Jas 1:2-12, the temptations are what we might
call holy trials or problems which are sent from God, and which test
the reality of our faith and produce likeness to Christ. In Jas
1:13-17, on the other hand, the subject is unholy temptations, which
come from within, and which lead to sin. The Christian life is filled
with problems. They come uninvited and unexpected. Sometimes they come
singly and sometimes in droves. They are inevitable. James does not
say “if you fall into various trials” but when. We can
never get away from them. The question is, “What are we going to do
There are several
possible attitudes we can take toward these testings and trials of
life. We can rebel against them (He 12:5-note)
by adopting a spirit of defiance, boasting that we will battle through
to victory by our own power. On the other hand, we can lose heart or
give up under pressure (He 12:5). This is nothing but fatalism. It
leads to questioning even the Lord’s care for us. Again, we can
grumble and complain about our troubles. This is what Paul warns us
against in 1 Co 10:10. Another option—we can indulge in self-pity,
thinking of no one but ourselves, and trying to get sympathy from
others. Or better, we can be exercised by the difficulties and
perplexities of life (Heb. 12:11-note).
We can say, in effect, “God has allowed this trial to come to me. He
has some good purpose in it for me. I don’t know what that purpose is,
but I’ll try to find out. I want His purposes to be worked out in my
life.” This is what James advocates: “My brethren, count it all joy
when you fall into various trials.” Don’t rebel! Don’t faint! Rejoice!
These problems are not enemies, bent on destroying you. They are
friends which have come to aid you to develop Christian character.
God is trying to produce
Christlikeness in each of His children. This process necessarily
involves suffering, frustration, and perplexity. The fruit of the
Spirit cannot be produced when all is sunshine; there must be rain and
dark clouds. Trials never seem pleasant; they seem very difficult and
disagreeable. But afterwards they yield the peaceable fruit of
righteousness to those who are trained by them (Heb. 12:11). How often
we hear a Christian say, after passing through some great crisis, “It
wasn’t easy to take, but I wouldn’t give up the experience for
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or
The best training is to learn to
accept everything as it comes, as from Him whom our soul loves. The
tests are always unexpected things, not great things that can be
written up, but the common little rubs of life, silly little nothings,
things you are ashamed of minding (at all). Yet they can knock a
strong man over and lay him very low. (Amy Carmichael,
Candles in the Dark).
(Below is her convicting poem)...
Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,
Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound?
Yet, I was wounded by the archers, spent,
Leaned me against the tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed me, I swooned:
Hast thou no wound?
No wound? No scar?
Yes, as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole: can he have followed far
Who has no wound nor scar?
PS: If you want to read an
incredibly convicting biography I dare you to read Elisabeth Elliot's
work book entitled
A Chance to Die: The Life and
Legacy of Amy Carmichael
Through trials we learn to
Through Christ our victories are won;
Come lay your burdens at His feet
And find this inner peace so sweet. —Halsey
NEVER GIVE UP
by Fanny Crosby
Never be sad or desponding,
If thou hast faith to believe.
Grace, for the duties before thee,
Ask of thy God and receive.
Never give up, never give up,
Never give up to thy sorrows,
Jesus will bid them depart.
Trust in the Lord, trust in the Lord,
Sing when your trials are greatest,
Trust in the Lord and take heart.
What if thy burdens oppress thee;
What though thy life may be drear;
Look on the side that is brightest,
Pray, and thy path will be clear.
Never be sad or desponding,
There is a morrow for thee;
Soon thou shalt dwell in its brightness,
There with the Lord thou shalt be.
Never be sad or desponding,
Lean on the arm of thy Lord;
Dwell in the depths of His mercy,
Thou shalt receive thy reward.
TRIALS & AFFLICTIONS
(1). Prove our
faith genuine - so when a believer comes through a trial still
trusting the Lord, he is assured that his faith is genuine
(2). Are only
for a little while (cf 1Pe 5:10-note,
2Co 4:18 Heb 12:11 -
note -"for the
necessary to our growth in Christ & so trials in a believer's life are
purposeful (cf Ro 8:28-note;
cause grief & sorrow so we must not think they are not of any benefit
just because we grieve (cf Heb 12:11 -note
not to be
multicolored, of various "sizes, shapes and colors" (Ja 1:2) but in
poikilos) Peter says God provides multicolored grace for
multicolored trials! There is sufficient grace (2Cor 12:9) to match
every trial and there is no trial without sufficient grace.
Ultimately will bring praise, glory and honor to God. There is great
comfort for suffering saints in knowing that their sufferings are
neither purposeless nor fruitless. On the other hand, the sufferings
of the ungodly are only a foretaste of the pangs they will endure
(7). Will not
be fully understood as to their eternal significance until the
revelation of Jesus Christ (1Cor 2:14)
Spurgeon comments on testing of our faith:
Faith untried may be
true faith, but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to
remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers
so well as when all things are against her: tempests are her trainers,
and lightnings are her illuminators. When a calm reigns on the sea,
spread the sails as you will, the ship moves not to its harbor; for on
a slumbering ocean the keel sleeps too. Let the winds rush howling
forth, and let the waters lift up themselves, then, though the vessel
may rock, and her deck may be washed with waves, and her mast may
creak under the pressure of the full and swelling sail, it is then
that she makes headway towards her desired haven. No flowers were so
lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of the frozen glacier;
no stars gleam so brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky; no
water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and
no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity.
Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own
weakness had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and
you would never have known God's strength had you not been supported
amid the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and
intensity, the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is
precious, and its trial is precious too. Let not this, however,
discourage those who are young in faith. You will have trials enough
without seeking them: the full portion will be measured out to you in
due season. Meanwhile, if you cannot yet claim the result of long
experience, thank God for what grace you have; praise Him for that
degree of holy confidence whereunto you have attained: walk according
to that rule, and you shall yet have more and more of the blessing of
God, till your faith shall remove mountains and conquer
In the ancient times, a box (blow) on the ear given by a master to
a slave meant liberty, little would the freedman care how hard was the
blow. By a stroke from the sword the warrior was knighted by his
monarch, small matter was it to the new-made knight if the royal hand
was heavy. 'When the Lord intends to lift his servants into a higher
stage of spiritual life, He frequently sends them a severe trial; He
makes His Jacobs to be prevailing princes, but He confers the honour
after a night of wrestling, and accompanies it with a shrunken sinew.
Be it so, who among us would wish to be deprived of the trials if they
are the necessary attendants of spiritual advancement?
Afflictions when sanctified make us grateful for mercies which
aforetime we treated with indifference. We sat for half-an-hour in a
calf's shed the other day, quite grateful for the shelter from the
driving rain, yet at no other time would we
have entered such a hovel. Discontented persons need a course of the
bread of adversity and the water of affliction, to cure them of the
wretched habit of
murmuring. Even things which we loathed before, we shall learn to
prize when in troublous circumstances. We are no lovers of
lizards, and yet at Pont St. Martin, in the Val D'Aosta, where the
mosquitoes, flies, and insects of all sorts drove us nearly to
distraction, we prized the little green fellows, and felt quite an
attachment to them as they darted out their tongues and devoured our
worrying enemies. Sweet are the uses of adversity, and this among
them—that it brings into proper estimation mercies aforetime lightly
We never prize the precious words of promise till we are placed in
conditions in which their suitability and sweetness are manifested. We
all of us value those golden words, "When thou walkest through the
fire thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon
thee" but few if any of us have read them with the delight of the
martyr Bilney, to whom this passage was a stay, while he was in prison
awaiting his execution at the stake. His Bible, still preserved in the
library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, has the passage marked
with a pen in the margin. Perhaps, if all were known, every promise in
the Bible has borne a special message to some one saint, and so the
whole volume might be scored in the margin with mementoes of Christian
experience, every one appropriate to the very letter.
How different are summer storms from winter ones! In winter they
rush over the earth with their violence; and if any poor remnants of
foliage or flowers have lingered behind, these are swept along at one
gust. Nothing is left but desolation; and long after the rain has
ceased, pools of water and mud bear tokens of what has been. But when
the clouds have poured out their torrents in summer, when the winds
have spent their fury, and the sun breaks forth again in glory, all
things seem to rise with renewed loveliness from their refreshing
bath. The flowers, glistening with rainbows, smell sweeter than
before; the grass seems to have gained another brighter shade of
green; and the young plants which had hardly come into sight, have
taken, their place among their fellows in the borders, so quickly have
they sprung among the showers. The air, too, which may previously have
been oppressive, is become clear, and soft, and fresh. Such, too, is
the difference when the storms of affliction fall on hearts unrenewed
by Christian faith, and on those who abide in Christ. In the former
they bring out the dreariness and desolation which may before have
been unapparent. The gloom is not relieved by the prospect of any
cheering ray to follow it; of any flowers or fruits to show its
beneficence. But in the true Christian soul, 'though weeping may
endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning.' A sweet smile of hope
and love follows every tear; and tribulation itself is turned into the
chief of blessings.
There is an old story in the Greek annals of a soldier under
Antigonus who had a disease about him, an extremely painful one,
likely to bring him soon to the grave. Always first in the charge was
this soldier, rushing into the hottest part of the fray, as the
bravest of the brave. His pain prompted him to fight, that he might
forget it; and he feared not death, because he knew that in any case
he had not long to live. Antigonus, who greatly admired the valour of
his soldier, discovering his malady, had him cured by one of the most
eminent physicians of the day; but, alas! from that moment the warrior
was absent from the front of the battle. He now sought his ease; for,
as he remarked to his companions, he had something worth living
for—health, home, family, and other comforts, and he would not risk
his life now as aforetime. So, when our troubles are many we are often
by grace made courageous in serving our God; we feel that we have
nothing to live for in this world, and we are driven, by hope of the
world to come, to exhibit zeal, self-denial, and industry. But how
often is it otherwise in better times! for then the joys and pleasures
of this world make it hard for us to remember the world to come, and
we sink into inglorious ease.
"I had," said Latimer, describing the way in which his father
trained him as a yeoman's son, "my bows bought me according to my age
and strength; as I increased in them so my bows were made bigger and
bigger." Thus boys grew into crossbowmen, and by a similar increase in
the force of their trials, Christians become veterans in the Lord's
host. The affliction which is suitable for a babe in grace would
little serve the young man, and even the well-developed man needs
severer trials as his strength increases. God, like a wise father,
trains us wisely, and as we are able to bear it he makes our service
and our suffering more arduous. As boys rejoice to be treated like
men, so will we rejoice in our greater tribulations, for here is man's
work for us, and by God's help we will not flinch from doing it.
We had traversed the Great Aletsch Glacier, and were very hungry
when we reached the mountain turn half-way between the Bel Alp and the
hotel at the foot of the Ægischorn; there a peasant undertook to
descend the mountain, and bring us bread and milk. It was a very Marah
to us when he brought us back milk too sour for us to drink, and bread
black as a coal, too hard to bite, and sour as the curds. What then?
Why, we longed the more eagerly to reach the hotel towards which we
were travelling. We mounted our horses, and made no more halts till we
reached the hospitable table where our hunger was abundantly
satisfied. Thus our disappointments on the road to heaven whet our
appetites for the better country, and quicken the pace of our
pilgrimage to the celestial city.
"The pine, placed nearly always among scenes disordered and
desolate, brings into them, all possible elements of order and
precision. Lowland trees may lean to this side and that, though it is
but a meadow breeze that bends them, or a bank of cowslips from which
their trunks lean aslope. But let storm and avalanche do their worst,
and let the pine find only a ledge of vertical precipice to cling to,
it will nevertheless grow straight. Thrust a rod from its last shoot
down the stem, it shall point to the centre of the earth as long as
the tree lives."
Amid the sternest trials the most upright Christians are usually
reared. The divine life within them so triumphs over every difficulty
as to render the men, above all others, true and exact. What a noble
spectacle is a man whom nothing can warp, a firm, decided servant of
God, defying hurricanes of temptation!
Our afflictions are like weights, and have a tendency to bow us to
the dust, but there is a way of arranging weights by means of wheels
and pulleys, so that they will even lift us up. Grace, by its
matchless art, has often turned the heaviest of our trials into
occasions for heavenly joy. "We glory in tribulations also." We gather
honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock.
When the green leaves bedeck the trees and all is fair, one cannot
readily find the birds' nests, but when the winter lays bare the
trees, anyone, with half-an-eye, may see them. Thus amid the press of
business and prosperity the Christian may scarcely be discerned, his
hidden life is concealed amid the thick and throng of the things of
earth; but let affliction come, a general sickness, or severe losses
in the family, and you shall see the Christian man plainly enough in
the gracious patience by which he rises superior to trial. The sick
bed reveals the man; the burning house, the sinking ship, the panic on
the exchange, all these make manifest the hidden ones. In many a true
believer, true piety is like a drum which nobody hears of unless it be
Our crosses are not made of iron, though painted sometimes with
iron colours; they are formed of nothing heavier than wood. Yet they
are not made of pasteboard, and will never be light in themselves,
though our Lord can lighten them by his presence. The Papists
foolishly worship pieces of wood supposed to be parts of the true
cross; but he who has borne the really true cross, and known its
sanctifying power, will value every sliver of it, counting his trials
to be his treasures, his afflictions argosies of wealth, and his
losses his best gains.
Lawns which we would keep in the best condition are very frequently
mown; the grass has scarcely any respite from the scythe. Out in the
meadows there is no such repeated cutting, they are mown but once or
twice in the year. Even thus the nearer we are to God, and the more
regard he has for us, the more frequent will be our adversities. To be
very dear to God, involves no small degree of chastisement.
Payson thus beautifully writes: —
"I have been all my
life like a child whose father wishes to fix his undivided attention.
At first the child runs about the room, but his father ties up his
feet; he then plays with his hands until they likewise are tied. Thus
he continues to do, till he is completely tied up. Then, when he can
do nothing else, he will attend to his father. Just so has God been
dealing with me, to induce me to place my happiness in him alone. But
I blindly continued to look for it here, and God has kept cutting off
one source of enjoyment after another, till I find that I can do
without them all, and yet enjoy more happiness than ever in my life
before." (All the above from Spurgeon Feathers for Arrows)
><> ><> ><>
Your affliction quickened your prayers. There is a man trying to
write with a quill pen; it will not make anything but a thick stroke;
but he takes a knife and cuts fiercely at the quill till it marks
admirably. So we have to be cut with the sharp knife of affliction,
for only then can the Lord make use of us. See how sharply gardeners
trim their vines, they take off every shoot, till the vine looks like
a dry stick. There will be no grapes in the spring, if there is not
this cutting away in the autumn and winter. God quickens us in our
afflictions through His Word. (Barbed Arrows from the Quiver of C. H.
><> ><> ><>
Celebrate bankruptcy? How
foolish that seems to us! Yet author Leo Buscaglia's mother did just
that. Her husband came home one evening and sadly told the family that
his business partner had stolen the assets of the firm. Bankruptcy was
Instead of despairing, Leo's mother went out, pawned some jewelry, and
prepared a delectable dinner. When family members protested, she
replied, "The time for joy is now when we need it most, not next
Mrs. Buscaglia's response to her family's financial crisis reminds me
of a New Testament directive: "Count it all joy when you fall into
various trials" (James 1:2).
Have you run into difficult circumstances recently? Has some calamity
gripped your heart with fear and sorrow? God doesn't want you to wear
a hypocritical, smiling face. But He does want you to trust Him
through all your circumstances -- including calamities! He wants you
to accept failure, sickness, and loss as opportunities for growth in
faith and obedience.
Our wise and loving heavenly Father longs for us to submit to His
sovereign control. Only as we do that can we agree with James and
rejoice even in calamity.-- V C Grounds (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Though times be
dark, the struggles grim,
And cares rise like a flood,
This sweet assurance holds to Him:
My God is near and good.-- Hager
should make us better - not bitter.
><> ><> ><>
Faith Tested - Alexander
Maclaren, in a sermon entitled “Faith
Tested and Crowned,”
(Ge 22:1) distinguished between being tempted and being tested or
tried. He said that “the former word conveys the idea of appealing to
the worst part of man, with the wish that he may yield and do the
wrong. The latter means an appeal to the better part of man, with the
desire that he should stand. Temptation says, ‘Do this pleasant thing;
do not be hindered by the fact that it is wrong.’ Trial or proving
says, ‘Do this right and noble thing; do not be hindered by the fact
that it is painful.’ The one is a sweet, beguiling melody, breathing
soft indulgence and relaxation over the soul; the other is a pealing
trumpet-call to high achievements.”
Every hardship of life holds the possibility of being a temptation and
a trial. By resisting all suggestions we know are wrong and accepting
all circumstances as opportunities for growth, we cooperate with the
Holy Spirit in His sanctifying work in us. We move toward that desired
goal of being “perfect and entire, lacking nothing” (James 1:4). - D.
J. De Haan
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Raku - Some friends gave us
a piece of Raku pottery. "Each pot is hand-formed," the tag explained,
"a process that allows the spirit of the artist to speak through the
finished work with particular directness and intimacy."
Once the clay has been shaped by the potter it is fired in a kiln.
Then, glowing red hot, it is thrust into a smoldering sawdust pile
where it remains until finished. The result is a unique product—"one
of a kind," the tag on our piece insists.
So it is with us. We bear the imprint of the Potter's hand. He too has
spoken through His work "with particular directness and intimacy."
Each of us is formed in a unique way for a unique work: "We are His
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God
prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10-note).
But though we are created for good works, we're not yet finished. We
must experience the kiln of affliction. Aching hearts, weary spirits,
aging bodies are the processes God uses to finish the work He has
Don't fear the furnace that surrounds you. Be "patient in tribulation"
and await the finished product. "Let patience have its perfect work,
that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (Jas 1:4-note).—
David H. Roper
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
We are here to be perfected,
Only God our needs can see;
Rarest gems bear hardest grinding,
God's own workmanship are we. —Anon.
He who has begun a good work in you
will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. —Php 1:6 (note)
Happy Adversity? - On the
back of a wedding anniversary card were some wiggly lines drawn by our
3-year-old grandson. Alongside was a note from our daughter explaining
that Trevor told her what he had written: "I'm writing a letter for
your love and happy adversity."
Trevor's "mistake" has become our watchword, because "happy adversity"
embodies the biblical principle of facing difficulties with joy:
"Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the
testing of your faith produces patience" (James 1:2, 3).
From our perspective, adversity is anything but happy. We have the
idea that the Christian life is supposed to be trouble-free, and we
see little value in hardship. But God sees it differently.
J. B. Phillips' translation of James 1:2, 3 reads:
When all kinds of trials and
temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don't resent them as
intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test
your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance.
Affliction does not come as a thief
to steal our happiness, but as a friend bringing the gift of staying
power. Through it all, God promises us His wisdom and strength.
So don't be offended if I wish you "Happy Adversity" today.— David C.
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Be assured beyond all doubting,
In the trial you're passing through,
That the Lord's great love and mercy
Is at work for good in you. —Anon.
Life's burdens are designed
not to break us but to bend us toward God.
Higher Math - Mathematical
formulas work well with numbers, but not with people. That's why this
equation in James 1 sounds unworkable:
Faith + Trials = Patience
One might better try to mix oil and
water. But what makes this formula work is confidence in God's
unfailing love, which allows for all the human emotions that come with
Shirley and her husband Roy proved that this equation is still
up-to-date. Here's their story: Roy was told that in 6 months the
plant where he worked would close but he would receive severance pay.
Shirley wrote, "Praise the Lord for that--but also praise the Lord
that He loves us so much He's given us yet another trial in our lives.
(This will be the fourth time we're starting over in the 13 years
we've been married.) At first I panicked and questioned God's love.
But I kept reading my Bible, stopped feeling sorry for myself, and
started to pray for others. As long as God gives us this roof over our
heads (and even if we lose it), I'll thank Him."
So when you face trials, you can "count it all joy" if you add faith,
knowing that God's love will never fail. As you do, you will develop
an attitude of patient expectation, confident that God will do what is
best. — Dennis J. De Haan
Afflictions may test me,
They cannot destroy;
One glimpse of Thy love
Turns them all into joy. --Willett
The first lesson in patience is learning to count our trials as joy.
F B Meyer. Our Daily Walk - JOY
IN THE HOUR OF TRIAL - "Count it all joy when ye fall into divers
temptations. Knowing that the trying of your faith worketh
WE ARE bidden to count our trials as pure Joy, since our patient
endurance leads ultimately to the finished product of a holy
character. All the trials and afflictions that beset us are seen and
shared by our Heavenly Father. God did not save Israel from the ordeal
of affliction, but passed through it with them (Exod. 3:7-9; Isa.
63:9). Evidently there was a wise purpose to be served by those bitter
Egyptian experiences. So with ourselves. There is a reason for our
trials which we do not understand now, but we shall do some day, when
we stand in the light with God. Afflictions are not always
chastisement, though in some cases that may be so; but more often we
are in grief through manifold trials, that the proof of our faith,
being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, may be found
unto praise and honour and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Let us therefore rejoice, and magnify His lovingkindness. What a theme
is here for praise! Sweet psalms and hymns have floated down the ages,
bearing comfort for myriads, because those who wrote them passed
through searching discipline. And it may be that we who have passed
through great tribulation will be able to contribute notes in the
Heavenly music that the unfallen sons of light could never sing. The
Psalter of Eternity could not be complete without the reminiscences,
set to music, of the grace that ministered to us in our earthly
trials, and brought us up out of the furnace of pain.
Then we shall tell how God's
glorious arm went also at our right hand, as at the right hand of
Moses; of how the stony paths became soft as mossy grass; of how He
led us out of the scorching heat into green pastures and waters of
rest; and how He provided for us to make for Himself a glorious Name.
Yes, we will make mention of the Lord, according to all that He shall
have bestowed upon us, according to His mercies, and according to the
multitude of His lovingkindness. We will tell the story of how the
Angel of His Presence saved us; how, in His love and pity, He redeemed
us; and how He bare and carried us all the days of old. We shall have
a great story to tell! "My heart and my flesh fail, but Thou art the
strength of my heart and my portion for ever! None of them that trust
in Him shall be desolate.'"
PRAYER - Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy
affection may drag downwards; give me an unconquered heart, which no
tribulation can wear out; give me an upright heart, which no unworthy
purpose may tempt aside. AMEN. (F B Meyer. Our Daily Walk)
Turning Trials Into Triumphs
- James' words "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials"
(1:2) offer a vital key for turning trials into triumphs. Although we
don't choose to have trials, we can choose how we respond. J. B.
Phillips paraphrased it like this: "Don't resent them as intruders,
but welcome them as friends!"
British counselor Selwyn Hughes reminds people that trials are our
friends only if our goal is to become more like Jesus. If our goal is
to avoid difficulties or mishaps, our trials will seem more like
Hughes admits that he often needs to take his own advice. He recalls a
time when he and his wife had pulled off to the side of the road to
look at a map. Then a truck swerved and slammed into their car. They
escaped injury, but their car was totaled. Then it started to rain!
Hughes immediately battled with frustration, apprehension, and anger
toward the other driver, and found it extremely difficult to "count it
all joy." But as they waited for the police, he began to focus on how
God could use the trial to make him more like Jesus. Gradually, the
crisis became his friend.
The next time you face a trial of some kind, make friends with it and
allow God to use the situation to make you more like Jesus. — Joanie
loving God transforms us
And makes us like His Son
By using trials and testings
Until His work is done. —Sper
God chooses what we go through; we choose how we go through it.
See the transmuting effect of grace
enabling the tried and tempted family of God to count it pure joy,
whenever they face trials of many kinds. We have here a problem in
arithmetic. Take all your trials and mark them down. Now add them up,
and what is the sum total? "Joy!" What mysterious arithmetic! How
unlike the addition taught in schools! How different from the sums and
problems in the lesson books! How different, also, a result does the
Lord bring out from your own calculations when you looked at them one
by one, without adding up the whole sum! Then "count it pure joy"
whenever you face trials of many kinds, knowing that their effect
is—to wean you from the world—to endear Christ—to render His truth
precious—and to make you fit for your eternal inheritance. Are you
satisfied with the solution of the problem? Can you write down your
own name at the bottom of the sum and say, "It is proved—I carry the
proof in my own bosom?" (J. C. Philpot. Riches)
Wall-Bangers Anonymous -
I’ll never forget the time during college when, after I had finished
writing a big paper that was due the next day, I heard a loud
commotion in the room across the hall. My neighbor was in a state of
panic, throwing stuff around his room looking for his paper.
Frustrated, he banged his fist against the closet and shouted, “Thanks
a lot, God. You make life one big laugh!”
I might have given him an A+ for theology—at least he knew that God
was ultimately in charge—but an F for his response to the problem.
For those of us who get mad at God when life takes a wrong turn, we
need a good dose of biblical therapy. So, welcome to “Wall-Bangers
Anonymous”—a two-step program toward a positive, God-honoring response
Step One: Think straight about trouble.
It’s not only inevitable, it’s
indiscriminate. Trouble comes in all shapes and sizes. “Various
trials” (James 1:2) affect our health, our careers, our relationships.
Once we understand the facts, we can begin appreciating their
significant value in our lives.
Step Two: Trade resistance and resentment for receptivity and
“Count it all joy” The joy is not
in the presence of pain but in the knowledge that God is using our
pain to refine us and make us better, not bitter. — Joe Stowell
If we embrace adversity,
Accepting every pain,
Then we will learn what we should know;
Our grief will turn to gain. —Sper
God chooses what we go through; we choose how we go through it.
Growing Pains - When
suffering invades our lives, we often wonder what we've done to
deserve it. Yet even Jesus, our perfect Savior, suffered during His
earthly life. Hebrews 5:8 says that "He learned obedience by the
things which He suffered."
Author James Stalker writes: "Suffering does not always sanctify. It
sours some tempers and makes them selfish. But many triumph nobly over
their temptation. There are sick-rooms [where] it is a privilege to
J. Oswald Sanders told about visiting such a place in Australia, where
Miss Higgens lived. Constantly in pain, she hadn't left her room for
more than 40 years. Her arms and legs had been amputated to arrest a
progressive disease. Determined to live creatively, she named her
cottage "Gladwish," where she gave herself to prayer and spiritual
ministry. Using a pen attached to the stump of her arm, she maintained
a worldwide correspondence for years and led hundreds to Christ. Her
suffering stimulated creativity in her life and service.
If you're longing to live more creatively, "Count it all joy when you
fall into various trials" (James 1:2). Dare to give your hassles and
heartaches a more challenging name, such as "growing pains," with the
emphasis on growing! — Joanie Yoder
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Those whom God has called to suffer
Know the agony of pain,
Yet when they yield it all to Him,
They find in it great gain. —Hess
If you praise God in your trials, your burdens will turn into
Octavius Winslow - "It is
good for me that I have been afflicted," has been the exclamation and
the testimony of many of the Lord's covenant and tried people. It is
often difficult at the moment to justify the wisdom and the goodness
of God in His dealings with His saints. David found it so, when he saw
with envy the prosperity of the wicked. Job found it so, when, in the
hour and depth of his afflictions, he exclaimed, "You are become cruel
to me: with Your strong hand You oppose Thyself against me." Jeremiah
found it so, when in his affliction he said, "He has hedged me about,
that I cannot get out: He has made my chain heavy." And yet, where is
the furnace-tried, tempest-tossed believer, that has not had to say,
"In very faithfulness has He afflicted me"? During the pressure of the
trial, at the moment when the storm was the heaviest, he may have
thought, "All these things are against me;" but soon he has been led
to justify the wisdom and the love, the faithfulness and the
tenderness, of His covenant God and Father in His dealings.
The furnace is a needed process of sanctification. If not, why has God
so ordered it? If not, why is it that all His people are "chosen in
the furnace of affliction"? Why do all, more or less, pass through it?
The furnace is needed-it is needed to "purify the sons of Levi, and
purify them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an
offering in righteousness;"-it is needed to consume the dross and the
tin which adhere so closely to the precious ore, to burn up the chaff
that mingles with the precious grain, to purify the heart, to refine
the affections, to chasten the soul, to wean it from a poor empty
world, to draw it from the creature, and to center it in God. Oh the
blessed effects of this sanctified process! Who can fully unfold them?
That must be blessed indeed, which makes sin more exceedingly
sinful-which weans and draws away from earth-which endears Jesus, His
precious blood and righteousness-and which makes the soul a "partaker
of His holiness." This is the blessed tendency of the sanctified
discipline of the covenant, and in this way does the Holy Spirit often
sanctify the child of God.
A B Simpson (from Christ
in the Bible) has this message on James 1:2, 12
DISCIPLINE OF LIFE
My brethren, count it all joy when
ye fall into diverse temptations." "Blessed is the man that endureth
temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life,
which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him (James 1:2, 12).
Rotherham slightly changes
the translation of these verses, as does also the Revised Version.
My brethren, count it all joy when
we fall in with diverse temptations." "Blessed is the man that
endureth temptation (or testings), for when he is approved, he shall
receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that
The epistles of
Paul and John represent the interior, the experimental, and spiritual
side of Christian life, while that of James represents the practical.
God makes His mosaics of many different pieces and the blending of all
together makes the perfect whole. There is room for James as well as
for Paul and John. Paul is the apostle of faith, John of love, Peter
of comfort, but James is the apostle of good works, the apostle of
practical living. He stands in the New Testament very much as the book
of Proverbs stands in the Old. It has been said that the reason the
Scotch are such a practical and prosperous race is because every
Scotsman used to be brought up with the book of Proverbs in his vest
pocket. It would be well to have some cheap editions of Proverbs and
more pockets to hold them.
This conservative old minister in the Church of Jerusalem, James,
deals with the practical discipline of life from two sides.
I. THE DISCIPLINE THAT COMES TO US FROM TEMPTATION.
1. He first tells us that temptation is not an unmingled evil.
By temptation he means
undoubtedly evil; not trouble, but the solicitation of evil, the
battle for right with the power of the tempter and our evil heart.
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall in with diverse
temptations. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation."
While it is evil, it has a good side, and it becomes an agency in the
education of our spiritual character and the strengthening of all the
better elements of our nature.
2. While temptation is not directly from God, yet it is overruled
by God, and made one of His instrumentalities of blessing to us.
God does not "tempt any
man, neither is tempted with evil," yet God permits us to be tempted.
God put our first parents into temptation and He made it possible for
them either to choose or refuse; gave them a nature subject to
temptation, and while it might overcome them, it might also be
overcome. God does not tempt any man, yet He does allow this to be one
of the classes in the school of faith and holiness. He even led Jesus
Christ, His own Son, into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted
of the devil. Think it not a strange thing then, dear friends, if your
life is called to pass through the ordeal of the conflict, evil from
within and from without, not merely things that grieve, afflict and
distress you, but things that tend to make you do wrong and draw you
from the path of righteousness, truth and godliness. They will come.
God wants you to be forewarned and forearmed, and to know it is better
that they should come to you, if you but take the panoply of God and
come through in victory.
3. The source of temptation; whence it comes.
"Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust."
Temptation comes from your own heart. There are innumerable tempters,
men, women and fallen spirits of wickedness. But none have any power
unless we have ourselves a traitor in the citadel of the heart. The
enemy cannot get in unless you let him in. You hold the key of the
fortress. Therefore it is in your own heart that the crucial battle is
fought, the secret foe is hidden, your own lust, your own desire or
"coveting," which is the literal translation, the thing in you that
wants to do the wrong; your wish for it, even if it is not yet your
will. This is the starting place of temptation. It is the blossom of
sin. And this is where God wants to bring His sanctifying grace and
take away the very desire. Just as the sea fowl plunging in the miry
water comes up undefiled because its wing is oiled and burnished, and
the filth around cannot adhere to it, so the Lord Jesus passed through
the powers of darkness and the allurements of the world and all the
evil that was around Him and was proof against it. He could say "the
prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me." It is in the
heart that temptation has its starting point. Ask God to give you a
true and holy desire to please Him, and an instinctive repugnance and
recoil from evil, and so long as you have this, you shall not fall
4. Then we have the blessedness of resisting and enduring
"Count it all joy when ye fall into diverse 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, 3, 4.) "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation."
The battle does you good. The conflict educates you, strengthens you,
establishes you, and is necessary for you that you may be grounded and
settled and finally approved and rewarded. One of the best results of
temptation is that it shows you what is in your own heart. It reveals
yourself. Until temptation comes, you feel strong and self-confident,
but when the keen edge of the adversary's weapon has pierced your
soul, you have more sympathy with others and less confidence in your
own self-sufficiency, and you are humiliated and broken at His feet, a
poor, helpless thing, and this is the best thing that can happen to
you. God wants to disarm you and lay you low, and then He can lift and
save you and give you His strength. It makes you humble and doubtful
of yourself. You find you must not take the aggressive, but fly to
your refuge in Christ. He will make a way of escape that you may be
able to bear it." (1Corinthians 10:13-note)
Like the little conies that hide in the rock and do not face their
enemies, but fly for shelter, you will find your only safeguard is
Jesus Christ; He is the shield to cover you, and you will be safe not
by fighting, but by hiding behind the cross and in the bosom of your
Savior. If you have had much spiritual conflict, it has humbled you,
shown you your helplessness, and taught you sympathy for others.
Temptation exercises our faith and teaches us to pray. It is like
military drill and a taste of battle to the young soldier. It puts us
under fire and compels us to exercise our weapons and prove their
potency. It shows us the resources of Christ and the preciousness of
the promises of God. It teaches us the reality of the Holy Spirit and
compels us to walk closely with Him and hide continually behind His
strength and all-sufficiency. Every victory gives us new confidence in
our victorious Leader, and new courage for the next onset of the foe,
so that we become not only victors, but more than conquerors, taking
the strength of our conquered foes and gathering precious spoil from
each new battle field. So that temptation strengthens what we have
received and establishes us in all our spiritual qualities and graces.
You will find the forest trees which stand apart, exposed to the
double violence of the storm, are always the sturdiest and strike
their roots the deepest in the soil. And so it is true in the
spiritual world, as the apostle Peter expressed it;
The God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by
Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect,
stablish, strengthen, settle you. (1Pe 5:10-note)
At the same time temptation teaches us to watch as well as pray, to
avoid the things that bring temptation, and to keep off the enemy's
ground. It is only the inexperienced Christian that plays lightly with
evil. Luther used to say "He must needs have a long spoon who sups
with the devil." "Pray," says Bishop Hamlin, "from God's side of the
fence." Don't jump over into the devil's garden, and then ask God to
help you, but keep on God's side, and watch and pray that ye enter not
into temptation. Often our overconfidence betrays us. Like the man who
had escaped the bailiff who tried to serve him with a warrant for
arrest, and had just got across the State line, where the law
protected him, when his pursuer, exchanging guile for force, laughed
and said, "You have the best of me. And now let us shake hands and
part friends." The foolish fellow reached out his hand, and in a
moment the bailiff had pulled him over to his side of the line and
clapped the handcuffs on him. So if Satan cannot beat us fairly, he
will allure us so near the borders of danger that we shall be caught
by his wiles. Some people sail so near the lake of fire that they get
their sails scorched and find it impossible to get away. The maturest
Christian is always the humblest and most watchful. Let us be not
high-minded, but fear, and learn to combine the two blessed safeguards
of hope and fear, which God has so wisely blended in these two
passages: 1Co 10:12: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest
he fall," and then adds in the thirteenth verse, "God is faithful, who
will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." And yet
once more, in the fourteenth verse, he returns to the language of
warning and caution, "Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from
Temptation also teaches us patience.
"But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and
entire, wanting nothing."
This implies that patience is the finishing grace of the Christian
life. Therefore, God usually puts His children through the school of
suffering last. It is the graduation class in the discipline of
Christ. Let us not, therefore, be surprised if God puts us through the
hottest of all furnaces, namely, that which is fired with the devil's
brimstone, before He makes us vessels for His glory.
5. Temptation brings a glorious recompense of reward, for "when he
is approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath
promised to them that love Him."
There is a reward for the soul-winner. There is a reward for the
Christian pastor and worker. But there is also a special reward for
the man or the woman that has had no great service, and perhaps has
won no single soul, but has stood in the hard place, has kept sweet in
the midst of wrong, and in the face of temptation, pure amid the
allurements of the world, and simply withstood in the evil day, and
having done all, stood at last approved. On the field of Waterloo,
there was a regiment which stood under fire through all that awful day
and was not once suffered to charge upon the foe. It held the key to
the position, and as again and again permission to advance was asked,
the answer came "Stand firm."
When they had nearly all
fallen, the message came back for the last time from their commander,
"You have saved the day," and the answer was returned, "You will find
us all here." Sure enough they lay a heap of slain on that fatal, yet
glorious hill. They had simply stood, and history has given them the
reward of valor and the imperishable fame of having turned the tide of
the greatest battle of the nineteenth century. So God is preparing
crowns for quiet lives, for suffering women, for martyred children,
for the victims of oppression and wrong, for the silent sufferers and
the lonely victors who just endured temptation. Tempted brother, be of
good cheer. Some day you will wonder at the brightness of your crown.
II. THE DISCIPLINE OF PROVIDENCE.
In the striking parable of the potter and the wheel, Jeremiah has
taught us that while God is disciplining the heart by the touch of His
Spirit, He is turning round the clay on the wheel of providence and
bringing us into new situations for the exercise of new graces and the
teaching of new lessons with every alternation of life's conditions.
So that His providence cooperates with His Holy Spirit in the
education of our spiritual character, and we are to recognize the
things that happen to us as in no sense accidents, but simply divine
methods of dealing with us and teaching and blessing us. So James
proceeds to bring out the relation of God's providence to our
spiritual discipline in the ninth and tenth verses, "Let the brother
of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: but the rich, in that he
is made low."
1. We have the discipline of prosperity. This is not a hard or
uncongenial experience to the natural heart, but it often is the
hardest of all experiences for the soul.
"I have learned," says Paul, "in whatsoever state I am, therewith to
be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound."
(Phil. 4:11, 12-notes)
But how few Christians really know how to abound. How frequently
prosperity changes their temper and the habits and fruits of their
lives! To receive God's blessing in temporal things, to have wealth
suddenly thrust upon us, to be surrounded with congenial friends, to
be enriched with all the happiness that love, home, the world's
applause and unbounded prosperity can give, and yet to keep a humble
heart, to be separated from the world in its spirit and in its
pleasures, to keep our hearts in holy indifference from the love and
need of earthly things, to stand for God as holy witnesses in the most
public station, and to use our prosperity and wealth as a sacred trust
for Him; counting nothing our own, and still depending upon Him as
simply as in the days of penury -- this, indeed, is an experience
rarely found, and only possible through the infinite grace of God. And
yet God calls His children in greater or less measure to pass through
the test of blessing.
It may not be a great fortune, but a joy in your humble life worth
more to you than millions. Now He does not ask us to refuse it, to be
harsh, narrow and monkish, and to think to make ourselves better by
asperities and penances. No,
"Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted."
Open your heart to the love and joy He is bringing. Bask in the
sunshine of His smile. But do it with a humble and unselfish heart.
Let your blessing only make you more sensitive to the sufferings of
others, more grateful to Him, and more ready to make sacrifices and
render services to your Master and your fellow men. Then can "God
rejoice over you to do you good with all his heart and with all his
2. Then comes the other side of the revolving wheel, the discipline
of adversity. The brother of high degree is made low. Wealth takes
wings and flies away. Friends prove false, and even the downy nest of
love and home breeds viper's eggs and bitter heartbreaks. But we must
still rejoice. God is testing us in the crucible. We have a witness
for Him that only the dark shadows can bring out. Let us be true to
our testimony. Let us glorify Him in the fires. Let us look over the
head of all our trouble to Him, and still believe that all things work
together for good to them that love God." Then nothing can be against
sorrow touched by God grows bright
With more than rapture's ray,
As darkness shows us worlds of light
We never saw by day.
Adversity often has to come to save us from the loss of eternal life.
Then only when all other things fail us, can we fully find the
all-sufficiency of God, and learn that within ourselves we may possess
the resources of perfect happiness by having Him. It was thus that the
Hebrew Christians could take joyfully the spoiling of their goods,
knowing in themselves that they had a better and more enduring
substance. (Heb. 10:34-note)
It is a rare secret in the alchemy of grace to be able thus to
transmute a seeming flaw into an eternal touch of grace and glory.
A lapidary once purchased a beautiful stone, but found afterwards that
there was a hidden flaw of iron rust beneath the surface. At first he
was disposed to throw it away as worthless. Then there came to him the
conception of a rich design, in which a female figure was cut in the
stone, and the strong tint of the iron vein was carved into a rich
robe, whose drapery and color added a beautiful adorning to the
exquisite figure. Thus the flaw became the fairest charm in all the
fine creation of his genius. And so God would have us take the things
that seem to be against us and so transmute them by the power of His
grace that "instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree."
In conclusion let us learn to find in God the secret of blessing and
victory under all conditions and circumstances, and even to turn the
hate of Satan into an occasion of victory and blessing. Thus shall the
curse be made a blessing, sorrow turned into joy, and even sin so
conquered that grace shall much more abound. (A. B. Simpson.
Christ in the Bible - James)
J R Miller - Not all of us
understand the meaning and purpose of temptation. We think of it as an
effort of Satan to destroy us.
That is what Satan intends, but that is not God’s intention concerning
temptation. Jesus was not only tempted, but He was led, driven, by the
Holy Spirit to His temptation.
He could not be our Saviour until He was tempted - that is, tried and
proved. So we read here, "Blessed is the man that endureth
temptation." The beatitude is not for him who has not been tempted,
but for him who has met temptation and has been victorious.
It certainly seems a strange thing to read that we should count it all
joy when we fall into manifold temptations. We regret to see our
friends come under sore temptation or to have to be tempted ourselves;
but we learn here that we may even count it joy to have the
experience. Temptation is therefore an opportunity.
Blessings lie beyond it, which cannot reach in any other way but
through the experience of temptation.
The deeper meaning of my trials
O Lord, You've kept from me;
But some small part of Your great plan
I pray, Lord, help me see.
—D. De Haan
William Cowper alluded to
the beneficial effects of trials allowed by the beneficent God...
GOD MOVES IN A MYSTERIOUS WAY
by William Cowper
discussion of his life)
moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.