Purifying Our Faith: A Commentary on James

I have heard it said that the book of James is for mature Christians. I think this is true. You cannot be a baby Christian and do what James says that we must do. James requires faith, humbleness, meekness, patience, ability to control our tongues, being a doer of the word not a hearer only. Not much rambling, not many examples are given or needed. Christians who stand out from the crowd, no longer babies that must be nursed and coddled, the mature Christian is the very image of Christ. When reading the gospels of Matthew, Luke, John and Mark I often wondered….Well I know Jesus did these things, am I to do the same? Can I do the same? Will I be held to this standard of the God- Man?

James begins in verse 2 to get to the heart of the matter, he wastes no time with flowery speeches. He is speaking to the twelve tribes of Israel.

My brothers count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations; knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience, But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (James 1:2-4)

What does all this mean?

According to Strong’s Concordance:

  • Diverse temptation — diverse adversity
  • entire-complete
  • patience-cheerful endurance
  • perfect-of full age, man, perfect

So let’s rephrase this so that we can better understand what is really being communicated.

Count it all joy when you fall into diverse adversity knowing that the trying of your faith accomplishes cheerful endurance, but let patience have her perfect work (deed, doing, labour) that you may be of full age and complete, wanting nothing.

Count it all joy when you fall into diverse adversity, knowing that the trying of your faith accomplishes (cheerful) (implied) endurance, but let patience have her perfect labour, that you may be of full age (perfect) and entire (complete) wanting nothing.

James is saying that the diverse temptations equals the trying of your faith. I say that I have faith like Abraham, the father of our faith, has faith. Saying that I have faith is easy, simple to do. Anyone can say that they have faith. But when your faith is tried, when you go through the fires of life and come out with a better, purer, stronger, tougher faith than when you began then you know you really have faith. I say that come what may I know that God is with me, I never walk alone, But when thinks get tough, when things get hard, when things don’t work my way, the bills are high and the money is low, when sickness, disease and death are all around me. When strife, anger, indecision, and fear live in my house. When everywhere I turn I see the works of Satan. When I want to ask God Why? Why? When my prayers are not being answered. What do I do? Do I cry I cry “God, why have you forsaken me?” Do I curse God. Do I blame God? Do I turn away, do I try and fix it myself? Do I think that God is wrong, that God cannot handle this?

James says count it all joy, knowing, not thinking or considering, knowing that the trying of my faith accomplishes patience. Knowing that diverse adversity is the fire that purifies your faith. Like smelting silver. There is a lot of stuff that goes into the fire, that looks like silver, smells like silver, that calls itself silver . But once it goes into the fire all that is not true silver burns up, it is lost, gone. The fire, the heat, the burning, is the test that determines the true silver.

Many times we claim that we are Christians but when it gets hot we are not too sure. When it gets hot, we get uncomfortable not only with ourselves, but we get uncomfortable with God.

Example: My son Nate never had a problem when I left him to go somewhere. To dinner, daycare, with friends, with family NEVER, I would see other children, kicking, screaming, calling, yelling for their mothers. Not Nate. “Bye Mom, see you later.” “Bye Mom, I love you.” Nathaniel knew that I would be back. He was confident that no matter what it looked like, when I was going out that door, on my way, apparently in the eyes of a small child, forgetting him, leaving him behind, I am his Mom and I will not forget him ever. I will be back. He never lets it worry him at all.

Can we say the same thing? When the heat is getting higher and hotter can we say that God has not forgotten us? God is faithfull to those who were called into the fellowship of his son Jesus Christ our Lord. No weapon formed against me shall succeed. Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world. My God shall supply all my needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for us that love Him.

When it gets hot do we run, do we hide, do we curse, what do we do? Your faith, in its purest form, knows the heart of God. It never doubts, it never fears, it endures. Oh yes! When the pan finally comes out of the oven the truly faithful remain. The pan is much lighter, the faithless are gone. Only the faithful remain. When the heat comes, I will endure. It is a perfect labour. I, as a mature Christian, will be perfect, full and complete wanting nothing.