Thursday after the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: James 1:1-15 (NKJV)
1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. 12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
James’ words about counting it all joy when you fall into trials sounds strange in our society because we don’t like trials. Our old sinful nature doesn’t like trials! We cannot deny that trials produce strain and pain. However, James reminds us that when trials come, and when we by faith evaluate them rightly, we ought to bear them with joy. Our flesh will not like them, but the spirit will rejoice to gain from the trials what Christ intends that we should gain. In verse 3 James says that trials work patience, or endurance, or perseverance. Another word we might use is “constancy.” These trials teach us that we can not rely on ourselves and our abilities, but we can always rely on our Heavenly Father.
What James writes here is very similar to Luther’s explanation of the Third Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, where he says, “How is God’s will done?” Then he explains that “God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s Name or let His kingdom come; and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die. This is His good and gracious will.”
Indeed, in these verses James is showing us God’s grace and His desire to keep us in His kingdom. Without trials, if our life were all ease and comfort, our old sinful flesh would soon neglect God’s Word, faith in our Lord, and faith in His ability to keep us close to Himself.
Lord, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Amen.