“Real Authentic Faith"
Verse of the Week
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
[James 1:2-4 NIV]
Context is so critical in studying any book of the Bible. Therefore we need to know who James is, who he is writing to and what He’s writing for. James was the half brother of Jesus but yet didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah until he resurrected and appeared to James. From there James became a great leader in the early church. The letter is written to Jewish people (12 tribes of Israel) that had been scattered because of persecution. These were people that were new Christians coming out of a life lived under religious law and were now learning what it meant to live in relationship with Jesus. The letter is written because many were struggling with the suffering of persecution as well as sin in the church, specifically pride and gossip. So what is James telling us in this passage?
The Joy In Trial
A trial is a divinely inspired difficulty meant to conform us into the image of Christ. How can we have joy in difficulty? We must begin to learn and embrace that God uses difficulty to mold us and shape us into the image of Jesus. The goal of the Christian life is maturity and the only way to get there is going through difficulty. It takes wisdom to understand and apply this teaching, that’s why James tells us to ask for it. When we ask, we must believe and not doubt. That wrestling match between belief and doubt is what growing in faith looks like. Read and discuss the following:
The Joy of Internal Perspective
Humility is one of the defining marks of a growing Christian. When we look at Jesus we see a life that is marked by love for God and others more than Himself and a dedication to obey the Father’s will. The end of a life lived in obedience to the Father’s will is a life of joy. Some of the greatest hindrances to this life of joy is pride and the desire for stuff. James reminds us that everything we have is on borrowed time and will be burned up when this life is over. As we follow Christ, we will inevitably experience testing, but remember when we stand and remain faithful we will inherit the crown of life. This crown is one of eternal joy with Jesus in heaven. That is incredible!
The Joy in Fighting Sin
What’s important to understand in this passage is that God does not tempt anyone. Temptation and evil originates with our own sinful desires and of the enemy. When we recognize that our sin nature is the problem, we begin to understand our need for more of Christ and less of us. When we are growing in Christ, there begins to become a strong desire to fight sin, which is very hard to do. But how can we have joy in it? Not by focusing on what we’re losing, but what we’re protecting: our testimony, our integrity, our marriage and our family.
The Joy of Our Salvation
The passage finishes with this picture of a Father who doesn’t change like shifting shadows. He loves us and desires to give us good gifts, unlike our sinful flesh. Every good and perfect thing has origins in God. He is the author of all things and He chose to give His children birth through the word of truth, which is salvation.
How has your week been spiritually?
What did God teach you in this passage?
How can we have joy in trials? What has been the outcome of the trials of your life that you’ve endured?
Discuss this statement: “A clear vision of eternity gives us reason to find joy in today.”
Why is fighting sin so difficult? How can we find joy in it?
What’s your next step in your relationship with God?
Call to Action
Write down all the reasons to have joy in your everyday life. Meditate on these reasons
Talk about Group with at least 1 person.