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.
The Epistle of James is one of the earliest books written in the NT, if not the very first. We believe this for various reasons; one of which is that there is no mention of the Christian controversy spoken of in Acts 15 concerning the Jerusalem council. Certainly an incident of this magnitude, where James spoke with authority siding with Paul’s defense concerning the Gentiles, would have been mentioned in his epistle had it happened. Secondly, it was written to “the twelve tribes in the Diaspora” and nothing within the letter itself overturns the assumption that most, if not all his readers were ethnic Jews. So the epistle was likely written before large numbers of Gentiles were added to the church.
Who wrote this letter? Most, if not all believe James to be the half-brother of Jesus Christ. James along with Jude both half-brothers of the Lord (Matt 13:55) were blessed with the privilege of each writings an Epistle in the New Testament.
This Sunday, after a short introduction to the epistle we’ll delve straightaway into verses 2-4. James goes directly to the first of three recurring themes throughout the Epistle: trials and the testing of your faith; this is followed by the theme of wisdom, and thirdly, riches and poverty.
James declares boldly in verse 2 to: “Count it all joy brethren when you fall into various trials.” This goes directly against the worlds decree to lament in the midst of trials and consider it joy only when things are going great! This is more than a mere hypothetical statement, but James employs an imperative verb – you are commanded to be joyful! How and why can James count it all joy? He writes in verse 3: “Because you know the testing of your faith produces endurance.” Many brethren often look at their trials in a negative manner, but James says that we are to count it all joy because trials will refine us with the end goal of the believer being made whole and lacking in nothing.
We look forward to opening up this often misunderstood letter this coming Sunday. Please pray for the preparation and bringing forth of the Word, and also for those who will hear it.
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