Showing posts from June, 2010

Why should we count it all joy? Second Reason

The first reason we should "count it all joy" is that trials build our faith's capacity to endure (James 1:3).
James gives the second reason in verse four: "... that you may be perfect, complete, lacking nothing." (ἵνα ἦτε τέλειοι καὶ ὁλόκληροι ἐν μηδενὶ λειπόμενοι.)
But before he gives the second reason, he gives a second command: "Let endurance have its perfect work." (ἡ δὲ ὑπομονὴ ἔργον τέλειον ἐχέτω)
What does it means to "let endurance have its perfect work?" Think of the 10k marathon. If a runner gives out after 9k, his endurance did not complete or finish the job. Endurance "has" its perfect work, when it makes it all the way to the finish line. That's what endurance is supposed to do: take you the distance.
Here's James' point. When you're still in pain, or you're out of a job, or you're still not sleeping well, or your situation is getting worse not better, or all of the above are true simultaneously ..…

Why should we count it all joy? First Reason

In my previous post, I argued that James has in mind trials that challenge our confidence in God's goodness, wisdom, faithfulness, or power. Why are we supposed to count falling into such trials all joy?
James gives a two part answer. The first part is in Jam. 1:3 -- "knowing this that the trying of your faith works patience."
The word "knowing" is a participle both in English and in Greek. In both languages, participles are usually subordinate to (dependent upon) the main verb in a sentence. That means that participles give additional information about the main verb.
In this case, the main verb is "count" (ἡγήσασθε) in Jam. 1:2. The participle in v. 3 gives the reason why James is telling his readers to count faith-testing trials all joy: because we know that such trials of our faith produce patience.
As noted previously, the word translated patience (ὑπομονήν) is not the ability to stand in a long checkout line at a Walmart without losing your cool. I…

The kind of trials James has in mind (Jam. 1:2-4)

Most commentaries will note that the word translated "trials" in James 1:2 means a "test." BDAG offers "a test to learn the nature or character of something."
That suggests synonyms like problems, difficulties, issues, inconveniences, or perhaps examinations. If we work only with verse 2, then James seems to be talking about counting it all joy when you encounter life's difficulties, regardless of their nature.
However, verse 3 narrows the focus of this passage and further defines the specific kind of trials that James has in mind. Specifically, James is addressing trials that test a person's faith.
What is a "trying of faith?" A trying of faith is a test that challenges what you believe about God. If the trial you are facing doesn't raise questions about God's goodness, power, wisdom, faithfulness, or love, then it isn't the kind of trial that James is thinking about.
I have my share of problems, difficulties, issues, inconveni…

When you fall into various trials ... (Jam. 1:2-4)

I have fallen into various trials over the past month: Three weeks ago my wife's post-op pain got out of control and she was hospitalized for 2 days..Five days later all five members of my immediate family, myself included, plus my father-in-law, got food poisoning and we were vomiting in turns and simultaneously over a period of 12 hours. Four days later my wife reacts horribly to a medicine prescribed by her gynecologist--burning in the chest, then overwhelming nausea, then overwhelming irrational fear, then return to normal, to be repeated every 30-40 minutes for the next 24-36 hours. Another four days and another medicine is prescribed to which she reacts even more violently and that puts her in the hospital for three days. (She does not tolerate SSRI or SNRI meds!)The results of all the above plus the stress of the surgery and a long list of other stressors preceding the surgery: her adrenal glands appear to have gone haywire, messing with her ability to sleep, putting her ou…