Grace for Today: A Biblical Alternative to Self-Pity Part 2 (James 1:1-4)

A Biblical Alternative to Self-Pity (James 1:1-4) Part 2

Welcome to another edition of Grace for Today.  Last week we learned about the importance of viewing trials as opportunities to grow in faith rather than becoming self- focused and consumed with pity.  James taught us to have a godly assessment of ourselves being that of a servant of God and he also taught us to maintain the proper attitude.  He said to make up your mind to count a particular trial as joy because of the outcome which for believers will always be a more mature faith.

Now, let’s move on to the third and final point that James makes.

Please read James 1:1-4

We can count trials as joy which will lead us to actually being joyful not so much about the actual trial itself, but what God is providentially working in us as a result of the trial.

It’s a joy in the looking ahead.  It is a joy in an anticipation of your maturity and your eternal life to come.

Jesus had this in mind when he spoke the Beatitudes.

Luke 6:20-23 (ESV)

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. [21] “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. [22] “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!  [23] Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

Jesus said be joyful because what you will receive is far more valuable than what you are now suffering.

Romans 8:18 (ESV)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Matthew 13:44 (ESV)

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

The treasure was worth more than all he currently possessed.  He didn’t count it as loss or pain or suffering to give up all he had.  So, in these passages we are told that we can consider trials, persecutions etc joy because of an anticipated future eternal reward.

There is something going on right now in the life of a believer.  All believers are in the process of being made into the image of Christ—sanctification.  We are born again at justification.  We are being made like Christ in sanctification.  We will be truly be righteous in our glorification.

3- The Proper Effect (vs. 3-4)

[3] for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  [4] And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Trials test our faith-

Trials test our faith.  It is a faith issue.  It is at this first testing that we must determine to trust God and endure the trial as an obedient child.

Our first impulse is to rebel, fight against it, and become self-focused.  Self-pity sets in.  Then we blame God for not being fair.  Many have even shaken their fist at God.  Why is God doing this to me?

Jesus even tells us that trials have even shown that some people’s faith is not genuine.

Matthew 13:5-6 (ESV)

Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil,  [6] but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.

Matthew 13:20-21 (ESV)

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy,  [21] yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.

Trials become proving ground for our faith.  They show what kind of faith we have.  Is it genuine saving faith given by God or is it some false faith some false assurance we have somehow manufactured to make ourselves feel better.

Peter’s Example-

1 Peter 4:12-13 (ESV)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

Peter knew all about this truth.  His faith was tested.  Jesus foretold Peter’s trial. Peter spoke from experience.

Luke 22:31-32 (ESV)

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,  [32] but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

It was only after Peter was sifted and his faith challenged that Jesus could then tell him to strengthen his brothers.  We must avoid worldly “Quick fixes” to trials.  James commands us to endure them.

[4] And let steadfastness have its full effect; don’t cut short what God is working in you.  Don’t settle for worldly advice.  Coping is not what God is after.  Endurance is the Christian response not coping.   Coping is what pagans do when they are in the midst of a hardship with no hope.  The best they can do is practice positive thinking or try to make the best of a bad situation.  Believers endure because we know God is making us stronger in our faith.  James tells us that after the trial is over we will lack nothing.

that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Don’t waste your suffering like unbelievers.  Take full advantage of it.  Learn from it and be more like Christ.

1-     Have a Proper Assessment– know who owns you.  The Lord Jesus Christ.

2-     Have Proper Attitude– count trials as joy.

3-     Let the trial have its Proper Effect– which is producing endurance and steadfastness.

God gives us a way out of muck of self-pity.

Jesus’ Example-

No one suffered like our Lord.

Hebrews 12:2-4 (ESV)

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

[3] Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.  [4] In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Jesus knew all to well the purpose of His suffering.  His suffering to the point of death brings many to the Father.  As he looked at the purpose and what was waiting on the other side of the cross, endured the cross with joy.

Can you endure trials and count them joy? Armed with correct knowledge and the Holy Spirit we can.  When we do we bring an amazing amount of glory to the Lord.  It’s time for us to grow up and endure for Christ’s sake.

I’m Pastor Brian Evans of Grace Community Church www.gccWaverly.com

Thanks for reading,

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Brian

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