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Tested to Completion James 1:1-12

Faith In Action: A Study of James  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:33
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Today we begin the book of James. This book is one full of wisdom literature.
It has been called the wisdom literature of the New Testament and I couldn’t agree more.
We see right off the start that it is seeking to build you up and help us understand trials of various kinds we will face.
It tells us to have joy in the trials because they only strengthen us. Much like a body builder must break their muscles so their muscles will grow, that is what trials do for each of us.
I have read a story about a parakeet in a book of Max Lucado’s. In it he wrote,
Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over.
The problems began when Chippie's owner decided to clean Chippie's cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She'd barely said "hello" when "ssssopp!" Chippie got sucked in.
The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie -- still alive, but stunned.
Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do . . . she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air.
Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.
A few days after the trauma, the reporter who'd initially written about the event contacted Chippie's owner to see how the bird was recovering. "Well," she replied, "Chippie doesn't sing much anymore -- he just sits and stares."
It's hard not to see why. Sucked in, washed up, and blown over . . . That's enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart. (In the Eye of the Storm, Word Publishing, 1991, p. 11.)
This bird was hit unexpectedly with some severe trials and tribulations. That is how it happens with us more often than not. We have no warning just BAM WHAM we are hit like the bird.
Yet, we have something the bird did not, we can seek wisdom and we have the word that shows these trials are for our maturity.
So let us turn to the text today and see what God’s Word tells us about tests and trials and what we should do when we face them.
James 1:1–12 ESV
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 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. 7 For that person must not 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 boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
What an amazing section of Scripture. If this section does not give you hope and strength, then I pray after we see what it tells us today it will.
In it we see that tests and trials bring completion but they do this in several ways. First...

Tests Make Your Faith Firm (1-4)

James just introduced himself as a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
James was the brother of Jesus. He could have said that but he knows that humility is crucial to lead and for one to make it through trials.
He next addresses the twelve tribes that are scattered. That is what dispersion means the twelve tribes are scattered out because of persecution and trials.
He tells them, and us, to be joyful in trials. Again, looking back to his statement about being a servant, servants are expected to do what is necessary even in struggles. They are fellow believers and as such they are also servants of the Lord and as such struggles will come and they will suffer.
But just as Peter and John were arrested and beaten for standing for the Lord, and were joyful that they were counted worthy to be beaten for the Lord, so shall these brothers and sisters in Christ be and so should we be.
He explains further why we should be–trials bring about a completion of our Christian growth. We become steadfast and immovable in our faith, we are grown to meet the highest standard (full effect), we are more developed morally (perfect), and we meet all expectations (complete).
One thing that is most clear in this text is that it is not an if we meet trials but when. Just like cowboying, it is not an if you get hurt but a when and how bad.
That is the Christian life, that is life in general. We all face trials and struggles. We all face surprise interruptions. The difference is within Christianity, trials have a purpose and an end goal, the maturing of the believer.
Whereas in the world without Christ they may give you resolve, but what is that resolve for. To be a comforter to another? Great but what comfort can we give without Christ? “I know you are suffering and that this makes no sense but you will be better for it.” What empty platitudes.
In Christ we may suffer but it makes us focus on Him more. In Christ we may suffer but it draws us closer to Him. In Christ we may suffer but it makes us rest in His promises more.
As one commentator stated it, “It is not just being tested that is good for us but passing the test. The testing is not just to see if you made the team, but to prepare you for higher service. It is like being proven in practice so you will be prepared for tougher competition.” (Bruce B. Barton, David Veerman, and Neil S. Wilson, James, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992), 7.)
But just like being on a team, you have a coach. You have a coach that is more for you than anyone you have ever had in your life. We just need to have patience and allow this to work out.
I have been struggling lately with my Masters studies. Not grades or assignments but with feeling like the professors are not really there for my education but themselves. I have felt that they were against me when in fact they are not. I reached out and visited with a professor or two and the wisdom I received from that has allowed me to renew my faith in them as trying to educate me. And it has renewed my patience to continue through and grow.
That is what we see here. The trials make us complete and steadfast but when we struggle we have a coach, teacher, Father who is waiting for us to call to Him.
That is what we see in these next verses that...

Tests Make You Seek Wisdom (5-8)

We need to seek wisdom just as I did with my professors. I reached out and received the wisdom needed to continue. I received the affirmation that this was the enemy and my psychotic mind over thinking and trying to cause me to become bitter.
We see in verse five that there is an if. But in the Greek there is a conjunction before if. It is the Greek δε, this word means but.
So it literally reads, But if any of you lack wisdom, ask God.
The trials in life are to give us wisdom but if we are struggling through that, we need to ask God for the wisdom necessary to make it through.
I want us to see right here that we will always lack a certain amount of wisdom. We will never have it all. That is not what James is telling us. He is saying “But if you lack the wisdom for a child wandering, a job loss, a bad boss, an illness, financial burdens, or whatever” ask God He will give you what you need.
God is not like a loan shark. He will give generously and without reproach.
This word reproach means that God does not charge us with a verbal extortion with the purpose of obtaining something. That is why I said He is not a loan shark.
God will give generously to all who are His when they ask Him for it.
Hence James saying that we are to ask in faith without doubt. If we doubt we are like a double-minded person who is unstable.
We will seek God then like a child asking questions drift off to another area seeking advice and wisdom never waiting on God to answer. Again, that is why we need patience and trust in the Lord.
We need to wait on Him because wisdom is one area that God will give us over and over and continuously. He desires us to become wise in Him and when we ask without doubting He will give.
What this means is that we go to God like our children come to us.
Our child could just have gotten in trouble for something and they will turn around and ask if they can do something that they just got in trouble for. They are coming to us wanting something because they know we are their parent and we love them. They trust us and they know they can ask us for anything.
That is what James is saying here. Go to God with your needs of wisdom and ask Him like an expectant child asks us.
Just as Jesus said in Matthew, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
We just need to ask God and He will deliver wisdom. Just ask in faith with expectation and know He will deliver wisdom to you.
Remember the persistent widow from Luke 18 and how she went to the judge over and over expecting him to deliver her and give her what she asked?
That is what we need to do. We need to go to God over and over and ask and seek wisdom because He will deliver. But we must know that sometimes wisdom comes through being patient and waiting on the Lord to guide us and show us. Wisdom may not come like a bolt of lightning it may come to us like molasses in the winter, slow but steady accumulating into a large amount.
So this means that we are to call call on God in every situation before our emotions can take over. When a bad diagnoses comes in before we cry and stress, seek God through prayer.
When the job is lost before emotion takes you, call to God for wisdom.
When the business flops before emotion takes over call to God for wisdom.
Simply, we need not lose hope and try and fix things ourselves, or seek wisdom elsewhere because Jesus has given us access to great wisdom and all we need to do is ask for it and our amazing heavenly Father will deliver.
And once we do this we will realize that part of the completion aspect is that...

Tests Make You Trust God (9-12)

Here we see a different aspect. The lowly–poor, brother and the rich brother have differing outlooks on trials.
As a poor person they have nothing compared to the wealthy. They are daily in trials it may seem. But as a believer the trials we have are God paying attention to us trying to make us better people for Him.
That is the exaltation of the poor brother. He is being looked upon by God and given God’s gracious and loving concern.
A person who has nothing may become tempted into materialism and desire the things of the world. Trials will cause them to lean on God and to seek Him above everything. When everything is gone and all is tried God is still there and He is for you not against you.
Whereas, the rich brother has “everything” and lacks for nothing.
Except the wealthy face trials too because God desires them to be humble. When they depend on their wealth and look to it they are haughty and arrogant in God’s eyes.
They look to what they have (i.e., materialism) rather than looking to God. Trials will make them look to God and be humble because their earthly things cannot fix their situation.
That is why the text says that all will pass away regardless of their stature in the world. A wealthy man will fade away in his pursuits and be as a flower of the field which lasts for a brief time only.
Everything this world offers will fade away and perish.
Money is nothing, cars, cattle, saddles, horses, trailers, reputation, public standing, jobs, careers, sports, nor anything else. Only God is and only God can solve the struggles and strife we face.
We need to be like this elderly Christian man, who was a fine singer. He learned that he had cancer of the tongue and that surgery was required. In the hospital after everything was ready for the operation, the man said to the doctor, "Are you sure I will never sing again?" The surgeon found it difficult to answer his question. He simply shook his head no. The patient then asked if he could sit up for a moment. "I've had many good times singing the praises of God," he said. "And now you tell me I can never sing again. I have one song that will be my last. It will be of gratitude and praise to God."
There in the doctor's presence the man sang softly the words of Isaac Watts' hymn, "I'll praise my Maker while I've breath,/ And when my voice is lost in death,/ Praise shall employ my nobler power;/ My days of praise shall ne'er be past,/ While life, and thought, and being last,/ Or immortality endures."
He was a fine singer but lost that to a trial. He praised God because He knew God was worthy more than his skill had been.
Everything here and now can be taken from us. We need to stand firm with the Lord and know that He will carry us through because everything here is transient and will fade away. Only God has the answer and the best for us if we stand firm with Him we will receive this reward.
Why would we want anything else? Everything here fades and rusts, and moths eat it as Christ told us in Matthew 6.
We need to trust God in trials because God has the eternal blessings and the true methods for living life in this difficult world. Nothing else does but the Lord does.
We need to trust God in the tests we face.


Tests make us stronger and better. They bring us to completion. This is in all areas of life. We receive tests to make sure we are learning and growing. If we fail them we begin again.
The tests we will face in life are part of the learning and growing process.
This is why this section tells us to have joy in various trials because it makes us steadfast and complete.
We have seen that tests make our faith firm, they make us seek wisdom, and they make us trust God.
This is how we become mature and strong believers. We do not blame God or fault God for the difficulties in life but we seek Him and seek His answers and wisdom. That is how we are tested to completion.
Think about it like this, The sport of cross-country racing presents an athlete with unusual challenges. Each competitor must run against the clock over a course that may include hills, valleys, and mud. Wind and rain may add to their difficulties. Sometimes just finding the path is difficult. The three-mile race is a grueling test of endurance. Runners end the race filthy and exhausted. Often the group that crosses the finish line is much smaller than the group that began the race.
Each cross-country athlete is also part of a team. During the race, runners can encourage their teammates. Sometimes they run alone, sometimes together. After the race, the combined times of all the teammates is the team score.
In this sport, Christians can see a picture of God’s plan. The fact that we are allowed to be part of the team at all is evidence of God’s grace. We do not earn a place; we are joined to the team by faith in Jesus. The victory celebration to which we look forward is guaranteed by Christ. Our team has won, but we must run to finish.
Ask yourself: Have I accepted God’s gracious offer to be part of his team by believing in Jesus Christ? Am I running to finish?
(Bruce B. Barton, David Veerman, and Neil S. Wilson, James, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992), 22.)
If you have not and are not, then know that today you can have that blessing if you will just place your faith in Jesus Christ our savior and Lord who died and rose again for you.
Believe in Him and you will be part of the team and you will be able to ask God the Father for wisdom and strength and He will deliver.
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