Questions Day 5 Easy Life: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

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The Questions

1) Why should we consider trials a joy (verse 2)?

2) What is the full effect of endurance (verse 3)?

3) Does doubting amid trials keep us from receiving the Lord’s promises? (verse 6)

4) Do we endure trials in order to receive eternal life?

James 1:2-12

2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. 5 Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord, 8 being double-minded and unstable in all his ways. 9 Let the brother of humble circumstances boast in his exaltation, 10 but let the rich boast in his humiliation because he will pass away like a flower of the field. 11 For the sun rises and, together with the scorching wind, dries up the grass; its flower falls off, and its beautiful appearance perishes. In the same way, the rich person will wither away while pursuing his activities. 12 Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Original Intent

1) Why should we consider trials a joy (verse 2)?
The writer of this letter is James (verse 1), but which James? Early church tradition attributes the book James, the brother of Jesus. He grew up around Jesus (Matthew 13:55), believed in Him following His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7), and became one of the key leaders in the church (Galatians 1:18-19, Galatians 2:9). If this author is the brother of Jesus, and I believe there’s much evidence to indicate he is, then his humility is astounding. He introduces himself not as the brother of Jesus, but as a “servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” He goes on to encourage the readers to find joy in suffering “because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance”.  James didn’t ask his readers to do something he didn’t practice. Maybe the disciples told James what Jesus had told them before He died. (John 16:33) Maybe he and Peter encouraged each other in the face of trials. (1 Peter 1:5-7) The evidence from different traditional sources, including Jews, Christians, and Gnostics, give us good reason to believe this James died as a martyr, possibly stoned as Stephen was, while leading the early church in Jerusalem. (Ancient Christian Martyrdom, Ross) Stephen’s response indicates the kind of joy many Christian martyrs demonstrated. (Acts 7:54-60)

2) What is the full effect of endurance (verse 3)?
The effects of endurance are demonstrated in the believer’s spiritual maturity. God intends trials to test and demonstrate our faith through our perseverance. Personally, trials reflect our genuine willingness to walk through the pain associated with them by our commitment to continue the Christian journey. Just like an athlete who consistently practices and stubbornly refuses to quit, we build within ourselves a fortitude of faith that believes the outcome will be worth the sacrifice. Publicly, this demonstrates to others our belief in something deeper, an understanding of a coming reward for our faithful commitment to keep going amid suffering. James said “because he has stood the test, he will receive “. In the struggle to endure, we begin to look more and more like Jesus as His Spirit shapes us, revealing His strength at work in us. We count it great joy when we experience trials because we know it’s producing in us Christlikeness! (Hebrews 12:1-3) The full effect of endurance is that we lack nothing we need to live a life reflecting the One who endured the cross. The sinless Son of God, Jesus Christ, was devoted and determined to endure suffering for the sake of God’s glory and our salvation. (Philippians 2:5-11)

3) Does doubting amid trials keep us from receiving the Lord’s promises? (verse 6)
In its context, verse 6 is speaking about doubt as it relates to wisdom, but why does James mention wisdom in this passage? How do trials, suffering, doubt and wisdom relate to one another? It’s important to note that more than just theoretical knowledge, biblical wisdom focuses on our everyday living; the wisdom of God is intended for daily, practical use. (Psalm 90:12Ephesians 5:13-17, James 3:13-17, Colossians 4:5-6) James is writing about the gift of wisdom that comes from God and enables us to live obediently before Him amid suffering. That is, this wisdom is demonstrated day in and day out by a deep abiding faith in God’s sovereign plan. This is not meant to communicate that God withholds His promise to hear us if we have questions or concerns. This doubt reflects a heart of unbelief in God Himself. At the root of this unbelief is being “double-minded” (verse 8). When we believe God is good and completely trustworthy, our hearts will seek Him even in our stumbling and faithless humanity. (2 Timothy 2:11-13) We may have a skewed perspective from time to time, but a humble prayer that requests wisdom to know God more deeply will be heard and answered by the God who “gives to all generously and ungrudgingly”. (verse 5)

4) Do we endure trials in order to receive eternal life?
In verse 12, James says if we endure trials joyfully we will be blessed with a crown of life. Is he contradicting what Jesus taught in John 3 when He said that believing in Him was the way to gain eternal life? James spends a considerable amount of energy explaining the relationship between faith and works because the Jewish Christians to whom he wrote were so ingrained in the Mosaic Law and its system of works. Their natural tendency was to rely on their good works to earn them special favor with God. The picture here is of the believer continuing to persevere and strive because of his faith, not in order to earn it. James wants them to “consider” their trials with a godly mindset. The “crown of life” is not an earned reward for our perseverance, but it is an outcome. It’s a gift from God for those who prove genuine faith by their obedience and stability, tested in and through trials. Though scholars differ in their understanding of verses 9-11, clearly James is communicating that poverty and wealth are tests of faith. ( Both rich and poor are susceptible to arrogance in different ways. Both need to walk in humility before God, recognizing that it is only by His grace that anyone inherits eternal life. (James 4:6-10)

Everyday Application

1) Why should we consider trials a joy (verse 2)?
“Kent Hughes imagines the original readers response: ‘How nice! A letter of encouragement from Pastor Whacko! Don’t worry… be happy!’ We may hesitate to call James ‘Pastor Whacko,’ but we might question whether his advice is practical and realistic when we’re going through terrible trials. It may work for the little irritations that we encounter every day, but is it realistic advice for facing the huge trials that hit us?’” (Steven Cole,
That has probably been our sentiment at one time or another. We may entertain the thought that James couldn’t possibly mean we would feel joy when we are suffering, but I believe that’s exactly what he’s encouraging believers to do. It has everything to do with our perspective. We consider it joy only when we see our trials in light of eternity. This is not a grimacing smile emoji, a fake and awkward happy face. It’s a deep, abiding faith and comfort knowing there’s more to come; there’s hope. This coming reality truly will be the best of everything! (1 Peter 1:3-9)

What is the full effect of endurance (verse 3)?
Without trials that test our resolve to trust, our character as a Christ-follower would remain underdeveloped and unproven. Trials build and demonstrate our spiritual fortitude. When the faith we confess is tested, we learn in a much deeper way how our faith is indeed genuine and how it is utterly dependent on God’s grace, not our ability to maintain it. Persevering amid sorrow and pain with hopeful anticipation is supernatural. We’d probably call it radical! Maybe the apostles of Jesus influenced James’ conclusion about joy in trials. They were certainly wonderful examples of what it looks like to live this way. “After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be treated shamefully on behalf of the Name.” (Acts 5:40-42) THAT’S the full effect of endurance!

3) Does doubting amid trials keep us from receiving the Lord’s promises? (verse 6)
James gives us some insight into the doubting person he was describing. This “double-minded person” is constantly in frantic mode and motion when trials come. It is one who never learns to fully rely on God, nor does he trust God’s generous and never-ending promises. These are not people with genuine and humble questions toward God. The psalmists give us permission to cry out to God with our confusion! When we struggle with doubt on occasion, it’s important we preach to ourselves the hope of our salvation. We confess to Jesus with the man in Mark 9 who said, “I do believe; but help me with my unbelief!” Not possessing 100% faith is quite a different thing than doubting God’s ability to respond to our need. If it had to be perfect, we would rarely pray. In our human frailty, anxiety and fear sometimes accompany our concerns, but God wants us to bring those to Him because He cares and wants to answer us. (Psalm 34:15-18) We should boldly approach God’s presence because He’s merciful. (Hebrews 4:14-16) But we can also shakily approach His presence with our doubt precisely because He’s merciful!

4) Do we endure trials in order to receive eternal life?
A quadriplegic for 50+ years, Joni Eareckson Tada wrote this about her suffering: God engineered the circumstances. He used them to prove Himself as well as my loyalty. Not everyone had this privilege. I felt there were only a few people God cared for in such a special way that He would trust them with this kind of experience. This understanding left me relaxed and comfortable as I relied on His love, exercising newly learned trust. I saw that my injury was not a tragedy, but a gift God was using to help me conform to the image of Christ, something that would mean my ultimate satisfaction, happiness—even joy. ( “Joni”).

What wisdom!! And not the kind the world gives. Though persevering in trials doesn’t ensure us eternal life (there are some happy sufferers who don’t know Jesus), when the perseverance is accompanied by Spirit-filled joy, we can know we have an eternal reward through our faith in Christ’s provision. Singer/Songwriter Steve Curtis Chapman put it this way:
What kind of joy is this that counts it a blessing to suffer?
What kind of joy is this that gives the prisoner his song?
What kind of joy could stare death in the face and see it as sweet victory?
This is the joy of a soul that’s forgiven and free!
(Lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group)

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Digging Deeper is for Everyone!

1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
several times
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!

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Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

We love getting help while we study and is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.

Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))

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