When my girls were young, we did lots of fun things to fill our days in the summertime. One of our favorite things was to eat lunch at Taco Bell. Our family lived on a budget and when the money ran out, it was gone. So, in order to do those fun things we had to dig up change around the house, sell a few handmade crafts and dig around in the car seats to find any loose change. Once it was all collected, it was placed on the kitchen table to be counted. Once all the change was counted, we would plan out our menu as to what our change would afford us to have. I don’t recall a time that we were unable to buy lunch with what we had collected. But, I do recall counting the cost of the items that we would plan to eat, to insure that we had enough money for the day’s meal.
On some days we might have gotten tacos and soft drinks, while other days we were able to afford cinnamon twist as well as nacho and cheese dip with our meal. You know, I believe that my girls would testify as well, that those were some of the most fun times of our lives when they were growing up. We learned that it was not what we could afford to have, but the joy in the fact that we were able to get anything at all. Counting the cost helped us prepare for the meal that we would have before we would even leave the house and to insure that we did not come up short.
James the half-brother of Jesus was moved to teach his flock this same principle, but on a spiritual level. James was the first pastor of the church in Jerusalem over the Jewish believers. He was pastor there until the stoning of the beloved Stephen, which caused a great scattering of all the believers. It was then that James wrote a letter to those believer’s who were on the run for their lives because of their faith. He wrote to them that their faith might be genuine. James wasted no time in what he had to say to those believer’s. He spared no words in his sincerity, as his first interest was in their doing well in their walk and understanding of the gospel. In his opening comments in James 1:1-4 the scripture says this, “James, a servant of God and of the LORD Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James addresses their attitudes towards the trails that they were facing and tells them to count them all as joy! He was teaching them to count the cost of their trials as value, not loss. He wanted them to see that their outlook for what they were going through should be different than how the world responds to trials. He reassured them to know, that the testing of their faith works patience in them, that all their trials will work out for their best. James wanted them to know that God was very interested in doing a work in their lives as He is with us today. The word to “know” means, I have learn by experience that God can be trusted. So, James wanted them to remember that their view of God should be different than the world’s view.
Our values should reflect our evaluations. If we are interested in comfort, then trials will be tailored around discomfort. If we are interested in temporal gain, our struggles may be tailored around the things that we seek to acquire. God does not waste our sufferings, but uses them in the areas of our lives that we need the most. So the testing of our faith will have a perfect work in us if we surrender to them and not be defeated by them.
That is what the other part of this verse is talking about, to let patience have it’s perfect work, so that you can see your trial as God does; to have done what it was meant to do, and leaves you lacking nothing. May you and I learn 3 things from this verse, to count it all joy, to understand and know that His purposes are good and to let God do His perfect work in us. May we not complain, but submit to the lessons that are sent our way through trials and by doing so, we will find the joy that we may not can see at first, when trial first come our way!