Essential Christian attitudes amid trials, by Rev. John Kwasi Fosu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg Bible study material on James 1:1-8

The general overview of the book of James has been introduced in our previous study. It was realized that the book was likely to be written by James, the half-brother of Jesus who was the leader of the Jerusalem council (Acts 15:6-29). James purposes to demonstrate by means of many practical examples that Christian faith should result in a change of behaviour. In other words, true faith leads to godly living. Today’s lesson looks at James 1:1-8. Emphasis is placed on what the Christian is expected to do when faced with trials of every kind.

James- A life of service (James 1:1)
James 1:1 identifies the author of the book to be James. Early Church history has it that as a half brother of Jesus, James was a man of prayer whose knees developed large and thick calluses like the knees of a camel. Although James had a special relation to Jesus, he introduced himself as a bondservant of God and of Jesus. That title carries the sense of someone who is of permanent relation of service to another. James’ loyalty of service was to Jesus who he acknowledged as Lord.

Joy in trials (James 1:2)
James addresses the recipients of his letter to be a group of Jewish believers scattered abroad who are experiencing poverty, oppression and hardship of all kinds. In their circumstances, James expects them to consider it pure joy. To James, Christians are to expect trials as inevitable experiences because he uses the expression, “when and not if you fall into trials.” When in trails, therefore, they were to count it joy.

Joy is a deep sense of well-being that has to do with choosing to live above feelings of sorrow, tears, laughter, anger, pain without denying them. Joy then serves as a Christian response to life that depends on faith in God’s sovereignty. It pertains to inward delights in the goodness of God. Thus, to James, we are to rejoice when we experience trials in that it produces endurance.

Endurance amid trials (James 1:3-4)
James further urges that Christians are to have an attitude of endurance when faced with trials. Endurance relates to being active and not passive in waiting. It carries the picture of being under heavy load and resolving to be there without escape. This endurance then aims at making us “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” To James, enduring trials is part of the process of being made perfect.

Asking for wisdom in trials (James 1:5-8)
To James, trial times are necessary periods to ask for God’s wisdom. This wisdom has to do with the ability to make wise decisions in the midst of trials. We need wisdom so that our trials will not overwhelm us. Wisdom also helps us to develop new perspectives during difficult times. Asking for wisdom, James assures us that we are to ask from God who gives freely without despising our request. Moreover, in our prayer for wisdom, faith and not doubting or double-mindedness should characterize our asking.

Loving God entails following God faithfully amid trials. In this light, James 1:1-8 has been studied in this lesson with the intention of identifying some essential Christian attitudes needed amid trials. Learning from the life of James, therefore, Christians are to see ourselves as servants of God thereby accepting the fact that experiencing trials form an essential part of our discipleship journey. Trials are therefore inevitable. Thus, to James, when we are faced with trials, we are to count it joy by depending on God’s sovereignty. Moreover, James reminds us that it is important to faithfully endure and ask for wisdom when we are going through trials.

Questions for application
1. What informs James to introduce himself as a servant or slave of God?
2. Do you see yourself as a servant of God? How far do you see yourself that way?
3. Trials are inevitable experiences in the Christian life. Why and how should it be so?
4. State and explain three things that Christians are to do when faced with trials.

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