The Book of James 1:1-8
Maturity and Completeness in Christ
In just the first few verses of James 1, we are immediately given the key to maturity and completeness in Christ. James wastes no time and goes directly to the heart of his message. He gives us the steps, and the key to growing in Christ.
“James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, to the twelve tribes of Israel who are spread across the earth: I send you my warmest welcome!
Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line – mature, complete, and wanting nothing. If you don’t have all the wisdom needed for this journey then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant you all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking.
The key is that your request be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God. Those who depend only on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind. Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume that the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused.”
Hard Times Make You Stronger
One of the first things James says is – don’t run from tests and hardships. Some translations say, “ Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” NASB
The word “count” is an interesting word. In Greek, it is “hegeomai.” It is used of commanders, leaders, those who are in and who take authority; to rule, or command; to have authority over. It also means – consider, account, think.
- What types of tests and hardships do you think James was referring to?
- How easy is it to find joy in tests and hardships? While it depends on the circumstances, do you think it becomes easier with practice?
- Looking at the definition of “count,” how would you interpret the meaning of this sentence?
Trials Can Build Strength and Endurance
Throughout the Bible, God was teaching His people how to fight and to take authority away from those who were stealing what belonged to God. He is constantly teaching us to be able to exercise authority over our flesh. We learn in the New Testament that we are to control our own thoughts, our minds. When tests and hardships come, our old nature would not be joyful. But, James is teaching us something. He doesn’t say you have to like the hardship. He does say that we can find joy IN the hardship. Our joy is in Christ and in the fact that this test will produce endurance.
Our part is to take authority over our thoughts. Like the commander of an army, we choose to move forward in joy by taking control of our thoughts. James tells us that embracing the tests and hardships can result in joy and that our faith will blossom under pressure. Along with this, we will develop patience and endurance. In order to accomplish this, it is imperative that we be able to take control of our thoughts about the situation and ourselves. We are the commanders, not the situation.
Patience and Endurance.
Endurance is expressed in a Greek word called ‘Hupomone.’ It means – cheerful, hopeful endurance and constancy. I love the definition of hopeful constancy. We remain constant in our hope, in our faith, and in our God regardless of what is happening around us.
I know there are situations in life in which we feel we have no control. I also know from experience that we can do it. Sometimes devastating things happen and we feel helpless. While we may not be able to change what is going on around us, we can change ourselves and our thoughts about what is happening. When my first husband was killed in an accident, it felt as if my life was shattered. I didn’t know what to do and never thought I would find joy again. Laboring under the heavy burden of grief, I realized I had to control what I could so that the horrible circumstances didn’t consume me.
The key weapon is thanksgiving. You will see this in much of my writing. That’s because I believe so strongly the verse which says – In everything give thanks. Thanksgiving is such a powerful weapon to take control of the negative and defeating thoughts which seek to overwhelm you.
Lesson in the Book of James – you can control what is happening inside of you.
I practiced it. I would start giving thanks for anything and everything – family, friends, clothing, food, my car, my house, my dogs. You name it, I thanked God for it. I thanked Him for His love, forgiveness, grace, and mercy and worshipped when I didn’t feel like it. I could not control what was happening to me but I could control what was happening in me. This is the process James is showing us.
James shows a progression here. The situation – Tests and Hardships. The response – don’t run, embrace them, faith starts growing under pressure, patience and endurance develop. The result – “true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line – mature, complete and wanting nothing.” Next, you ask for wisdom and He gives it to you.
This is an incredible promise. We all want to be mature and complete in Christ. Here are the steps laid out for us.
James Gives us the Key to Growing in Christ
What is the key? Your request has to be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God. Again, you are in control of what you think. Will thoughts of doubt try to creep in? Yes, but we have the power to turn them into thoughts of faith. You don’t have to be adrift on your own wisdom. Instead, James says you can be firmly anchored. While the waters around you may be swirling, you are anchored in the unmovable God. Being single-minded is a choice. We exercise our bodies and we also need to exercise our faith. By controlling where you are anchored and your attitude toward it, you will find your way through whatever the trial or hardship may be.
Lessons from the Book of James start with faith. In just eight verses, James has led us through to victory. Every test and hardship can make us stronger if we decide it will. God will give us everything we need to be mature and complete in Christ. He does not leave us alone in the midst of these things. He is there is all His strength and glory and that is cause for joy. We rejoice in the Lord always and again I say – Rejoice!
Since our words reveal what is in our hearts, you might want to read Your Words Have Power – Use Them Wisely.
James’ Steps to Maturity and Completeness in Christ
James’ steps to maturity are:
- Don’t run from hardships
- Find the joy
- Embrace the hardship
- Allow the pressure to feed your faith and it will blossom
- Endurance develops patience
- True patience will equip you
- You will finish the race and be mature, complete, and wanting nothing
- Ask for wisdom and you will receive all you need
- The key to that request is your decision to maintain a single-minded commitment to God
- That commitment will keep you from leaning on your own wisdom and from being double-minded
These 10 points can get each of us through the hard times in life making us strong in our faith and determination. God’s will for us is to be mature and complete – to be like Christ.
If you missed it, here is Lesson 1 From the Book of James – Introduction