It can be difficult to look at the man in the mirror… I personally look at myself… and I see the inconsistencies and failings of my life…not at all the man that Christ would want me to be- and I want to look away.
Then, I come to the book of James. James is encouraging us to look at ourselves and to grow into maturity as a man- or person of God. James tells us the person in Christ I should and need to be. Take for James 1:2-3 for example…
2. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3. knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
Count it all joy when you fall into various trials… these are tough words indeed- when we look in the mirror during difficult times in our lives, how do we want to respond?
And now, we are living in a time when trials are going to increase for the Christians of America… even now, our country is debating on who can go into a bathroom- and in many circles, if you provide a biblical response like Genesis 5:2, He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created. You may be mocked…. The time has come that a Christian is ridiculed for standing against Homosexual marriage by proclaiming from Genesis 2:18 that God made man and woman for each other… so trials are here, and they are going to increase the bible tells us.
So, how and why should we count it all joy then? This is not joyful anticipation for trials. Instead, it is joy during trials. The joy is based on confidence in the outcome of the trial- God is on the throne and He’s got this. It is the startling realization that trials represent the possibility of growth.
In contrast, most people are happy when they escape trials. But James encourages us to consider it pure joy in the very face of trials. The response he is describing may include a variety of feelings, but it is not simply based on emotions. James is not encouraging believers to pretend to be happy.
Rejoicing goes beyond happiness. Happiness centers on earthly circumstances and how well things are going here. Joy is God-oriented rather than event-oriented because it centers on God and his presence in our experience.
We are told that the testing of your faith produces patience… Coal is just coal- unless you put it under pressure… oh, then you have a diamond!
Patience or endurance is faith stretched out; it involves trusting God for a long duration.
Patience, endurance or perseverance- it’s the same word in the Greek, is not a passive submission to circumstances—it is a strong and active response to the difficult events of life. It is not a passive endurance, but the quality of standing on your feet, by standing on the word of God- or hitting your knees in prayer as you face the storms. It is not simply the attitude of withstanding trials, but the ability to turn them into glory, to overcome them, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, as I look in the mirror, I recognize that I am a lump of coal… but one day, when I am in Jesus arms, I’ll be a diamond! Amen.