James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
James is telling his audience to count it all joy when we undergo trials. The word used here for “joy” by James means to be filled with happiness and a sense of contentment because of the security we have in Christ. That we through the guidance of the Holy Spirit are to dwell on that joy. A joy which comes from God and has its source in Christ. In other words, a supernatural joy which comes as one of the many gifts of our salvation. We are instructed to evaluate that joy, think about it and understand that it comes from God and not from ourselves. As followers of Christ, we are contemplating the privilege we have to suffer for His name and persevere through trials. A perseverance which comes through the work of the Holy Spirit in us, which is part of God’s work of sanctification in our lives. Sanctification is the process of spiritual growth carried out in us by God, because of our faith in Jesus. In addition, James is using a word for trials which refers to situations which remove all possibilities of joy. A situation which removes all peace, removes all comfort, removes all security and removes all prosperity and health from our lives. Situations, that from a human perspective appear to be hopeless. In these situations we are to have joy, because we understand and believe that God truly can work all things out for our eternal good, for those who love Jesus and have been called by God. And what is truly amazing is James tells us these trials, though they are not caused by God can be used by God for our perfection.
In other words, for our spiritual maturity to bring us to a better understanding and trust in God and His sovereignty and faithfulness. The word used for “perfection” here in these passages, means to bring something or someone to maturity through training or trial. This echoes what the Apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Roman Christians. That God can and does use “all trials for our good, for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.” Moreover, we have to remember that true faith cannot be known by us until it has been made evident by a trial. In other words, we cannot know, nor can we understand the true nature and the quality of our faith, until through faith, we have persevered through a trial. Trials not only help us to deepen and strengthen our faith in Christ, but trials also help us and the world to see the true quality or genuineness of our faith. Faith, which comes from our complete trust in God and not in ourselves, not in our abilities, not in our resources, nor on the things of man. James goes on to explain with the word “testing” that our perseverance through trials proves the genuineness of our faith, while causing us to grow stronger in our trust of God. Through trials God builds us stronger in our love of Jesus, of His word and it gives us a greater empathy for others, which in turn makes us more effective in God’s work. Trials help equip us to better carry out God’s will as we help others who themselves are facing trials. Moreover, our perseverance through trials equips us to better explain the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus and the love He has for us.