James 1:3-4 gives us important information in understanding what James means in verse 2. If I stop reading with verse 2 and not read what comes next, I can walk away with a big misunderstanding as to its meaning.
Let’s take a look at James 1:3 (NKJV)
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
In order for our faith to go to the Next Level, it must be TESTED.
In the previous verse, James wrote that we as believers must call it joy when trials come our way. Remember, this isn’t a suggestion – it is a command. We are commanded to see that there is a good side to the trials we face in life.
Verse 2 uses for “count” an accounting term, which has nothing to do with our feelings – nothing to do with our emotions. Did you ever watch an accountant do your taxes? They can sit for hours tallying up those numbers – to them a one is a one… a two is a two… there’s little or no emotion in doing that job. They intellectually tally their numbers as deposits or withdrawals. The use of this word here implies that even though we might feel sorrow or anger over our trials, we can still count them or “tally” them under the category of "joy" regardless of how we feel.
It is important that you understand that in no way is the Lord’s brother James minimizing the pain that you are feeling. If anybody gets it – he gets it. You see, this James is the half-brother of Jesus. They grew up together. Imagine the pain he felt when his brother was crucified. This James, knew firsthand what it meant to “count it all joy” in the midst of his trials.
This is the same James who came to saving faith after Jesus was resurrected. In other words, he didn’t believe his brother was the Messiah while Jesus was still alive. This is the same James who may have lived with the suffering of never telling His brother he believed in him while he was alive. But yet he could count it as joy - he could tally that experience as a deposit and not a withdrawal.
In the testing of his faith, James was able to count as joy the final outcome of his brother’s death - which was His Resurrection! You see, when Jesus died, James did not know there was a resurrection coming. In the midst of his grief, he didn’t know there was a resurrection on its way!
This experience taught him something. Sometimes in our suffering, we cannot see what comes next. But FAITH - when it goes to the NEXT LEVEL (upon being tested) now knows: “God’s got this! God has ME! I may not know how, and I may not know when – but there is a resurrection coming!”
Church, God wants to take our FAITH to the NEXT LEVEL!
Look at James 1:3-4:
3 Knowing this, (in other words –“Count it all joy” knowing this): that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
The Greek Word for patience here is “Hupomone.” It literally means: CONSISTENCY. The trying of your faith works consistency in your life. Trials by design are meant to make us consistent in our believing. How many of you know it’s easy to believe when things are going good? But our faith needs to be measured in good times and bad.
God wants our faith to be CONSISTENT at all times, and testing enables us to see where our faith is really at. Is my faith truly anchored in God, regardless of what I’m going through, or does it waiver when I get hit with a trial?
By definition, a trial creates a moment where we don't know how things will work out. A trial is designed to wreck our plans. A trial takes away our ability to see the clear path to getting what we think will make us happy. It is in these moments that we will either decide to turn to God for help, or turn away from Him.
James says that when a trial or hardship comes our way, we should label that moment as joyful because it will test our faith, meaning it will show us what level our faith in God is really at. Knowing where our faith is at should make us rejoice because Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.”
Look at James 1:5-7:
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
This is saying that when you find yourself in the midst of a trial, you can go to God while you are in it, and ask Him to give you His WISDOM on how to navigate through it. God wants to show you how to LIVE! God wants you to TURN to HIM for help! A TRIAL is designed to DRIVE YOU to the LIVING GOD! He wants to show you how to get through it. He wants you to put your faith and trust in HIM. A trial will show you just how much FAITH and TRUST you truly have in your GOD!
Look at verses 6 & 7 again:
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
When James talks about doubt here he is talking about having doubt in the Lord. Having doubt in God’s ability to get you through whatever you are facing regardless of the outcome. Notice I said: regardless of the outcome. Having Faith - at the Next Level - is a FAITH that TRUSTS GOD no matter what! It TRUSTS and BELIEVES GOD regardless of what I am going through.
“But Rev. Dor, I prayed and asked God for something and it didn’t happen.”
Let me tell you how Next Level faith responds to that:
“Father, this is not what I was expecting, my heart is broken over this outcome, but I know – You hold my future and I know You will see me through this… and somehow Lord – You are going to work this out for my good because I love You and I’m called according to Your purpose.”
This is the voice of Next Level Faith. It knows, like it knows, GOD IS IN CONTROL. It is not double-minded in who God is – because it KNOWS who God is. This is a faith perfected through trials, a faith that does not waiver, a faith that counts it all joy. This is FAITH at the NEXT LEVEL!
Check back next week as we continue our study with Next Level Hope.