James 1 v. 1 – 4
‘James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’
Along with many Methodist Churches this June, we shall work our way through the inspirational letter of James, trawling its depths and applying its insights to our own discipleship and the adventure with Jesus we’re all invited to be on.
Firstly, the writer of this letter is James, the younger brother of Jesus. Yet, ‘more significant than being a younger brother is being a servant of Jesus.’
The ‘twelve tribes’ is a reminder of our origins in the Jewish tradition of the twelve tribes of Israel, and indicates that this letter is to the scattered people of God around the world, in every generation, including us.
Secondly, James immediately focuses on the trials and the tests of life – surely they were living through intense times of persecution.
‘Notice, James begins verse 2 : ‘Consider’. He tells us not so much how to feel as how to think. He is not saying, ‘Pretend this is fun’. He is telling us, ‘Remember what God is doing in this’. God will use trials to make us rounded Christians – to grow us into the very people we were created and saved to be. So trials are the spiritual equivalent of growbags – faith grows by learning to persevere in hardship.
So we are not to be joyful about suffering, but we are to be joyful in suffering, because we know what God can and does do for us through suffering.’
Prayer for today
Lord Jesus, brother of James,
our true brother,
please help us to ‘consider’ our trials, our pressures, our sufferings
in a way which might make us more joyful, rather than joy-less.
Thank You for the ways we are growing in perseverance,
growing up in Christ,
maturing in our faith.
And we pray, most passionately,
for those we know who are going through
right now –
for Your presence, O God,
Your equipping, empowering Spirit,
in Jesus’ name.