Are we saved…

By what WE do, as well? (part 6)

James is a practical man. He’s writing to “the twelve tribes of Israel scattered among the nations,” James 1:1, who believed they were God’s chosen people, and God was setting up his kingdom on Earth through them. But here they were, just like us Christians today, dotted in little groups all over the place, not making much impact at all, and being “faced with trials of many kinds,” verse 2

It didn’t make sense. If God truly loved them, why was he letting them suffer? If they really were his chosen people, “the first fruits of all he created” (verse 18), why was he making life so difficult for them? And especially since they were true “believers in the glorious Lord Jesus Christ” too (2:1). 

How, then, could James convince these people that what was happening to them was for a good reason? Or that the trials they were facing were perfect gifts from a loving Father (1:17)?

James the practical gets down to basics in verse 12: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial.” Ah, so first of all, there is a process going on here that will bring blessings. But only through “persevering under trial,” because “when you’ve stood the test,” believing wholeheartedly that God could surely only have good in mind, that’s when you “receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” That’s the blessing, the “crown of life,” which in context is “the righteous life that God desires” for us (verse 20), the life that makes us “mature and complete, not lacking anything” (verse 4). It’s a blessing to be experienced in the here and now. 

Because when Abraham stood his test – believing wholeheartedly that God could only have something good in mind for him – that’s the blessing he received as well. He was “credited with righteousness.” He too experienced the righteous life of maturity and wholeness God had in mind through trials. He was credited with it, given the chance to experience it. 

So in answering those who wondered why a loving God would put them through severe trials, James explains the purpose of the trials, and the blessing that awaits those who accept the process God set up…(more on this tomorrow)   

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