“Carefully consider what will bring about joy when you fall into various trials.”
That is the way I interpret James 1:2. Read why I think it is about a “pathway” to joy here.
Another way of saying it is this: “When you face temptations, carefully consider the pathway to joy.”
This is a much more important concept in this chapter than I originally thought.
I had learned years ago that it was not just saying, “Put on a happy face and smile!” Naturally, having a joyous attitude is part of the solution, and we might be happy with this kind of greeting-card explanation. We are missing important ideas, however, when we remove it from what is stated in the rest of the chapter.
They say that in real estate there are three major considerations: location, location, and location. When we study a book, we can adopt a similar strategy. Context, context, and context! After we finish a section, we look at the section before it and ask how they relate. We must do the same after every chapter and at the end of the book.
[A quick reminder: With the exception of the Psalms, Lamentations, and a few other places inside other Bible books, the chapter divisions and headings are arbitrary. Don’t forget to combine chapters in your studies and ignore the arbitrary chapter divisions.]
Back to the main sentence here. When you face temptations, carefully consider the pathway to joy. This chapter outlines it for us by showing the pathway to death and encouraging us to walk the pathway of life. Do you see it there?
Here’s the message of the chapter: Rid yourself of sin by looking at your desires and finding the godly application and fulfillment of them.
At the base, these desires are not sinful. They are amoral. They are either/or. It all depends upon how we choose to pursue them.
Of course, stating it is much simpler than doing it. I may see how to wipe sin from my life, but it is going to take a lot of digging and working to find those base desires and figure out a way to pursue them in a godly fashion to bring life. Thankfully, there are a couple of things going for us here.
We have God’s power on our side.
God wants us to succeed, and He is able to help us and fashion us. The more we study and grow, the more God works through us to bring us life. I don’t want to miss that idea. I don’t want to present this text in a way that suggests we can become godly on our own, or that we can bring ourselves life. He is the author of life.
We can’t have life without Him. It is His word that is the “seed” of spiritual life. We have been born again through His word (1 Peter 1:23). This book is not suggesting that God is not at work. It is merely stating that God will not work through us if we refuse to work at it ourselves. “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and…is a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25).
We have God’s grace on our side.
We are sure to make mistakes. We are sure to find weak points in life and stumble and fall. The idea is to learn to overcome it instead of giving in to it. I want to remind you of the four keys to the mindset needed to overcome. Below is a summary. Or you can find it explained here.
If you want to bring about joyous circumstances, you need to remember the value of the situation, choose to endure it, pray for wisdom, and be sure to rejoice in the things that are going to help you endure.
Even with the perfect plan and the keys to endurance, we still need God’s grace. Obviously, I don’t want to encourage sin or encourage anyone not to take sin seriously, but if we do happen to sin, we can find forgiveness if we are a child of God.
That last phrase is perhaps the most important of all. Are you a child of God? Do you know what that means? Do you know the processes the Bible describes for that rebirth? It does no good to find ways to rid ourselves of sin if we do not find the way to have our past sins forgiven. Those are NOT the same processes.
Find the pathway to life and walk it daily. If I can help, reach out to me. That’s one of the reasons I am sending out these studies.
Lord, help us find and walk the path of righteousness!
See you tomorrow.