by, Nov 2nd 2009 at 05:03 PM (231 Views)
James commands, 'Count it all joy....' and that should be how we go about it. The verb here is an aorist imperative, 'Do it now, once and for all', do not be moved from that thought. Joy is how we are to view it, and we must not change our minds. This is the anchor that is echoed in verse six, do not let our minds be moved from this decision. As James will command, 'let it have its full play' (here speaking of patient endurance); a constant face of faithful endurance is here in thought throughout the whole letter. The Hebrew writer echoes James in his point,
39But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.
That whole chapter is an outline of enduring faith that presses on to claim what we have been promised. We joyfully face the trials, and we endure through them for the hope that is set before us. We have the gift of Joy, and of living in that joy that is ours in the Spirit. We endure because we are joyful. This is personified in Christ,
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (The Message translation).
Our Joy is not baseless, but based on 'The End Game', to borrow a phrase. We know how it will end, and that ending stretches out for all eternity. We rejoice because we know where we are going.
In James, we can be joyful because we know all this 'stuff' we have to wade through has a point, and that is the strengthening of our faith. It is the strong faith that God values, and expects of His people. So, we can rejoice in this 'stuff' because we know it is a way of strengthening ourselves, of dropping deep roots into His love, and drawing what we need. Indeed, James urges us to seek God's wisdom in the midst of all the 'stuff' we have to traffic with to reach the goal.
We have a mindset, and that is a joyful one. The dour outlook is not the heart of Christianity. Sober thought is needed, but the joyful heart is to be ever present at the end of the day. Here, James does not want the readers to be overwhelmed by anything. Wisdom is needed and encouraged, but the joyful heart is present to guide the request and keep us from falling into fear and despondency. This is not the abode of the 'double minded' man. Joy in the the strength and wisdom of a loving Father is our character stripe, and abode. In the house of Joy we can prayerfull seek the wisdom we need to guide us through the problems we face, and that is the difference between the person of faith and the double minded fear that staggers through all that we face.