James chapter 1 reads,

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
(James 1:2-4 ESV)

Probably none of us will say that we enjoy trials, but God uses them in our lives to bring about maturity in our relationship with Christ. Here are ten lessons from James chapter 1 on trials…

1. We do not go out and look for trials, but we will meet them. They are inevitable in everyone’s lives.

2. Trials come in various kinds– relational, financial, career, emotional, physical, mental/psychological, etc.

3. Christians are called to think of trials differently and consider the process joyful (a blessing in tended for our good by a loving Creator), because we are told that trials will bring maturity- steadfastness and endurance.

4. “My brothers…” No doubt James had his own trials to endure. He was at the center of the church dispute in Acts 15 and had to make hard choices about the essential questions of the gospel of Christ. Remember, we can learn from others who have been through trials.

5. Testing of our faith produces steadfastness–then we are to yield to steadfastness and let it have its full effect. When we don’t completely yield to God in trials, we cut short the work (the full effect) of how God wants to transform us.

  • Yielding to God fully may mean giving up our preferred result of the trial
  • Yielding to God may mean not insisting that we are “in the right”
  • Yielding to God may mean initiating relationship with someone we have been estranged from.
  • Yielding to God may mean taking the natural consequences of the sin that we have committed
6. The testing of our faith is different than temptations we encounter: Although it is the same root word, peirasmos, the scripture is clear that God does not tempt anyone, nor is he subject to any temptation or ill motive towards His children.
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. (James 1:13-14 ESV)
7. The full effect of God’s design in trials is to be mature and complete– remade in the image of Jesus-lacking nothing, receiving the crown of life (eternal life)- which is God’s loving promise. Sometimes we don’t receive blessing until the end of our life, sometimes we may receive other blessings when a trial is over.
8. If we lack wisdom in a trial, we should ask God for wisdom because:
  • God gives wisdom generously without reproach- (He isn’t bothered by our asking)
  • We won’t receive anything without faith
  • Asking in an attitude of faith brings stability to our walk with Christ; asking in an attitude of doubt brings instability
9. Both rich and poor go through trials, but have different reasons for boasting (considering it joy) in the midst of trials:
  • The poor man rejoices in his exaltation- the fact that he has a high status in the kingdom of God, even though he has a low status from earthly standards.
  • The rich man rejoices in humility- because he knows his riches are temporary, and if it were not for Jesus’ work and his child-like faith, he would not be in the kingdom of heaven- Jesus said, “How difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven!”
10. God urges us not to be deceived in the midst of trials
  • Trials are expected, they are not a surprise to God
  • Don’t be deceived into thinking that sin is going to bring you some benefit- the end result of temptation and sin is eventually death. (1:15)
  • Don’t be deceived in trials because of changing circumstances, Remember- God is the one who never changes. His essence is unfailing goodness! (1:17-18)