James provides the very practical advice every Christian needs, even if we do not always appreciate receiving it. His advice is intended to move every believer towards a higher level of maturity in Christ. While the thought of a life filled with trials is not very popular, it is true nevertheless. All of us who have lived long enough to reach any degree of physical maturity know that if there is one thing life guarantees, it’s that the longer we live, the more certain we are to experience tough times. Spiritual maturity allows us to travel a smoother road, realizing the journey, like life itself, is not easy.
The question then becomes: How do believers respond when those tough times come? James gives very clear and practical advice on how spiritual maturity enables believers to successfully navigate through life’s trials and adversities. James begins his epistle by explaining how the endurance of spiritual trials, the acquisition of wisdom, and the resulting patience work together to perfect and mature believers’ faith.
“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.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like 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; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:2-8 ESV)
James points out the difference between falling into difficulties and ignorantly walking into them. Unfortunately, many of the difficulties we face in life are self-inflicted. However, there are those spiritual trials that manifest themselves as a result of following in the footsteps of Christ; these are the times that James tell us that produce Christian Joy.
James goes on to explain how these spiritual trials also produce patience in our lives, not patience on a superficial level. For example, if you are late to an appointment and get in a hurry, someone may wisely tell you to slow down. Slowing down is a type of patience, but James is talking about something more in-depth. Christian maturity requires endurance, perseverance, and wisdom to deal with the tenaciousness of Satan’s attacks. Wisdom guides believers’ response to the earthly trials; it is a process of instruction, understanding, prudence, discretion, learning, knowledge, and discernment. These are all great qualities, needed to successfully overcome trials and temptations that are part and parcel of man’s earthly life.
James writes to believers describing how trials, patience, and wisdom come together to mature Christian faith. All of these qualities work together to perfect, complete, and ensure that believers lack nothing that would prevent the maturation of our faith in God.
In service to our Lord,