What do you count as joy? Our world considers joy typically in three ways…the satisfaction of sexual pleasure, the ability to buy what appeals to you, and the pride that comes from wealth and importance (1 John 2:16). We are driven by wants. Once our selfish desires are fulfilled, we count it all joy.
A quick question for you, how long are the pursuits of our world truly satisfying? That car of yours is satisfying until a neighbor, friend, or especially a foe purchases a nicer one. Fulfilment of lusts is addicting giving you the uninhibited craving to fulfill yet another fantasy. The gorgeous, ornate house that you were able to purchase makes you feel that you finally arrived…that is until your neighbor, friend, or colleague not only has a gorgeous, luxurious home, but also a beautiful lake house or classy home in the mountains with an amazing view. Our desires are insatiable constantly yearning for more.
James 1:2 presents a shocking, counter intuitive challenge for Christians, “Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet trials of various kinds.” What?! You got to be kidding! Most of us route ourselves around trials rather than face them. Is James, the half-brother of Jesus, being a bit sadistic here? No, not at all. He is advising you with an eternal not a temporal perspective.
He tells you in 1:3 the benefit of facing “trials of various kinds”, “the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” This verse states that the character produced by the Holy Spirit in your life under duress generates perseverance. This means the ability to achieve something successfully despite difficulty or delay. It becomes dynamic that we who have our identity based in Christ can walk with confidence no matter what life throws at us.
Then, James tells us in verse 1:4 why perseverance is so important. “4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” First, he makes sure that we understand not to hide from problems but face them…“Let perseverance finish its work.” Why? “So that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
If you are currently in the world, sitting on empty, constantly driven to satisfy unquenchable, compulsive, superficial hunger for more, readjust your focus. Stop centering your attention on the bankruptcy of the world. Seek Jesus and the depth of living life centered on Him. Learn to “count it all joy” no matter what is thrown at you and experience a life of “maturity and wholeness, not lacking anything.”
Count it all joy…!