Main point summary
Since God is a generous giver, we should be joyful in our trials. They produce a mature faith that perseveres in the word, and a manner of life consistent with the gospel and its implications.
Joy is not usually the first emotion that wells up within our souls when meeting a trial. Combining joy and trials is kind of like trying to combine oil and water. However, this interesting combination is exactly what James prescribes at the beginning of his letter. He says, "be joyful when you meet trials." But why? Why should I be joyful when I meet trials of various kinds? The answer of course that James provides is actually a reminder of something that he says we should already know. James says that if we have a genuine faith, we know that we are to be joyful in trials because we know the outcome. We know what fruit these trials produce in our lives. They make us steadfast and mature in the faith. James 1:16-18 is the very heart of this first chapter. James explicitly states that all good and perfect gifts are from God. In fact, one of the greatest gifts from God is that he saved us (brought us forth) through his word. What James is saying is if God gave us the greatest gift we could ever hope for or need, don't you think that he will also generously gift you as you walk with him in this life. Whether you are on a peak or going through a valley, every moment and every circumstance that you go through is a gift from God. He will supply you with everything you need to get you through this life. All you need to do is to come to him in faith. You might still be wondering how joy and trials can go together? Just as water and oil will not naturally combine so also joy and trials will not naturally combine. However, when you get the supernatural involved, something very exciting happens. When God saves you, he then lives inside of you (Ezekiel 36:26-27). What was once not possible now becomes possible because of what Jesus did on the cross. Where there was once hostility between God and man, Jesus now removes it and brings peace ( Colossians 1:20 ). So how can I now experience joy when I meet my trials? The glorious reality is because Jesus, (who is the most joy filled Person in all the universe) made it so that these two things can now be combined. They mix together perfectly! Do you want to know why this is so significant? Having joy when meeting our trials puts the gospel on display before a watching world? We become lights in the world ( Matthew 5:14 ). The world doesn't normally associate joy with trials. The world doesn't understand how these two things can be combined. The wonderful thing about all of this is that it provides us an opportunity to give a reason for the hope that is within us ( 1 Peter 3:15 ). People are going to ask questions. People are going to be curious. What a wonderful way to be able to share the gospel with someone who doesn't understand how these two things can go together. The last reason why we are joyful when we meet our trials is because in our trials we ultimately find our lives in Christ . It is in the trial the we humbly come to God for help as opposed to relying on our own wisdom. It is in the trial that we lose our lives (saying goodbye to self) and end up finding it in the most joy filled Person in the universe - in Jesus Christ ( Matthew 10:38-39 ). When we meet our trials, let us have joy knowing that Jesus is meeting us in them. Don't ever forget this! He meets us in order to the very thing his half brother James has already stated at the beginning of his letter. He meets us to complete us ( James 1:4 ). So don't grow weary or fainthearted! Don't let those trials get you down. Let us look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross...( Hebrews 12:2-3 ).
a James, a servant 1 of God and b of the Lord Jesus Christ, To c the twelve tribes in d the Dispersion: Greetings.
e Count it all joy, my brothers, 1
when you meet trials f of various kinds,
for you know
that g the testing of your faith h produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect,
that you may be i perfect and complete,
lacking in nothing.
j If any of you lacks wisdom,
k let him ask God,
l who gives generously to all without reproach,
and it will be given him.
But m let him ask in faith, n with no doubting,
for the one who doubts is like o a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
p he is a double-minded man, q unstable in all his ways.
Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation,
and r the rich in his humiliation,
because s like a flower of the grass 1
he will pass away.
For the sun rises with its scorching heat
and t withers the grass;
its flower falls,
and its beauty perishes.
So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
u Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,
for when he has stood the test
he will receive v the crown of life,
w which God has promised to those who love him.
Let no one say
when he is tempted,
“I am being tempted by God,”
for God cannot be tempted with evil,
and he himself tempts no one.
But each person is tempted
when he is lured
and enticed by his own desire.
Then desire x when it has conceived
gives birth to sin,
and y sin when it is fully grown
brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.
z Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from a the Father of lights
b with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 1
c Of his own will he d brought us forth
by the word of truth,
e that we should be a kind of f firstfruits of his creatures.
g Know this, my beloved brothers:
let every person h be quick to hear,
i slow to speak,
j slow to anger;
for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Therefore k put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness
and receive with l meekness the implanted word,
m which is able to save your souls.
But be n doers of the word,
and not hearers only,
For if anyone is a hearer of the word
and not a doer,
he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.
For he looks at himself
and goes away
and at once forgets what he was like.
But the one who looks into the perfect law,
o the law of liberty,
being no hearer who forgets
but a doer who acts,
p he will be blessed in his doing.
If anyone thinks he is religious
q and does not bridle his tongue
but deceives his heart,
this person’s r religion is worthless.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:
s to visit t orphans and widows in their affliction,
and u to keep oneself v unstained from the world.
Verses 16-18 is the heart of this first chapter.