James 1:2-4 ESV
“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.”
Hated and Persecuted
Jesus Christ said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self and take up his cross daily and follow Jesus. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (save them) that we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives for his sake (die with him to sin and to self) we will have eternal life.
He also said that we will be persecuted for righteousness’ sake, that we will be reviled and hated, as he was, and that we will have all manner of evil spoken against us falsely on account of Jesus. And he said that we will be falsely arrested and put on trial, but this will be our opportunity to witness for the sake of the name of Jesus and for his gospel.
He said that even our own family members will betray us and turn against us and turn us over to the authorities. We will be delivered up to tribulation and be put to death, we will be hated by all nations on account of his name, we will be excluded, and our name will be spurned as evil on account of Jesus.
So, we are not to be surprised if the world hates us, which includes worldly Christians (or professing Christians). For, if we were of the world, the world would love us as its own, but since Jesus called us out of the world, therefore the world hates us (including pastors and worldly church people).
But we are blessed when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. If they persecuted Jesus, they will also persecute us. But we are to rejoice, for our reward is great in heaven. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
[Lu 9:23-26; Matt 5:10-12; Matt 10:22; Matt 24:9; Lu 6:22; Lu 21:12-19; Jn 15:18-20; Jn 17:14; 1 Jn 3:13; 2 Tim 3:12]
Trials with Purpose
We are to rejoice in our sufferings, for suffering produces endurance, character, and hope. We are to count everything in this world a loss for the sake of Christ, that we may know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and may share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
We are not to be surprised when we go through fiery trials, either, for they come to test us, but we are to rejoice that we share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. So, we are blessed when we are insulted for the name of Christ. We are to glory in his name.
We are destined for trials. We will suffer affliction. So, we are to count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds, for the testing of our faith produces steadfastness so that we may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing good. And the testing of the genuineness of our faith is to be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Also, when we are afflicted, and our Lord comforts us in our affliction, it is so that we can comfort others in their affliction with the same comfort we received from the Lord. And this comfort is not just a pat on the back, but it is encouragement, counsel, wisdom, hope, truth, and righteousness.
And part of that encouragement is being honest with others, and them with us, regarding the fact that we are going to suffer, and that some of that suffering may be extremely difficult to endure, even to the point to where we may feel as though we want to die.
But when we go through these hard times which test our faith, it is so that we learn to rely on God and not on ourselves. We learn to turn to our Lord and to depend on him for all things rather than us going it alone, thinking that we can resolve our own conflicts.
We can also be encouraged when we consider all that Jesus suffered for us and yet he did not sin, and he did not give up, but he endured all sorts of persecutions and difficulties for our sake so that we would find faith in him and be delivered from our slavery to sin and live righteously.
We must also realize that God not only allows us to suffer, but that he himself disciplines us as a loving father disciplines his children. And the discipline is painful, for he reproves, and he scourges us in order to make us holy. For, the discipline is for our good that we may share his holiness, and when trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
[Rom 5:3-5; Php 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Matt 5:10-12; Lu 21:12-19; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12; Rev 3:19]
James 1:12 ESV
“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.”
So, when we are going through difficult times which test our faith, we need to recall these Scriptures and be encouraged that we are counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. We need to remember that there is a reason for these trials and that our Lord is completely sovereign over all things.
We need to also trust him with our circumstances and not lose faith, for these trials come to test us and try us so that we learn perseverance, and so we grow to maturity in Christ, and so we are compassionate toward others who are suffering, and so we learn to rely on Jesus and not on ourselves.
Our Lord is working all things together for the good of us who love him, who obey him, who have been called according to his purpose. So, we need to trust him that he knows what he is doing, and we need to sit at his feet and learn from him what he wants to teach us through our suffering.
Living by Faith
Lyrics by James Wells, 1918
v. 4 by Robert E. Winsett, 1918
Music by J. L. Heath, 1918
I care not today what the morrow may bring,
If shadow or sunshine or rain,
The Lord I know ruleth o’er everything,
And all of my worries are vain.
Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arm,
I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.
Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise,
Obscuring the brightness of life,
I’m never alarmed at the overcast skies—
The Master looks on at the strife.
I know that He safely will carry me through,
No matter what evils betide;
Why should I then care though the tempest may blow,
If Jesus walks close to my side.
Our Lord will return for His loved ones someday,
Our troubles will then all be o’er;
The Master so gently will lead us away,
Beyond that blest heavenly shore.
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