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James 1:2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
2 Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials,
Consider it all joy (1:2a)
James starts his letter by asking that these believers consider the trials that they were currently going through. James wanted his readers to think about why they were having their trials, which referred to any trial that took place in their lives so that his readers would have the proper perspective of the trial before they can actually know how to handle them when they come. Once they had the right mindset of their trials, they could consider it all joy. The Greek word for joy is (χαρά chara), which refers to anything that causes joy or delight, or brings cheer and dispels gloom or despair. This joy is not in going through the trial, but what that trial will produce in their lives. James wants his readers to understand that God is the one who allowed imperfection to come into humanity for a particular reason. (Matt. 20:28; Rom 5:12, 18) They can then consider any trial with a response of joy, that is, an opportunity for them to show an evident demonstration of their faith. Do not believe that God placed these trials here to grow their faith, but rather, because the trials (difficult times) are here because of human imperfection, here was their opportunity to grow from the difficult times.
my brothers (1:2b)
In the Scriptures, ‘brothers’ often refer to both men and women and is simply a writing convention (rules of writing). James here is not referring to his physical family but rather to his spiritual family. Jesus says the same things in Matthew 12:50 “For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
The Apostle Paul was very fond of using the word brother in his letters to the churches. James calling them brothers signifies that he is in a spiritual relationship with them through Jesus Christ, and they are bound together in the unity of Christ and part of a spiritual family. James uses the word brother in his short letter 14 times and writes with sincerity of heart to his spiritual family.
when you encounter various trials (1:2c)
James makes an affirmative statement when he writes when you encounter various trials. This does not mean that these believers might face trials (difficulties, problems) but rather that they were currently in the midst of trials. The Greek word that James uses here for trials (πειρασμός peirasmos) means examination, that is, examining someone closely, “testing for proof or putting to the test.” (Vine, 1996, pg. 622) This is God allowing us to endure the difficulties and problems of human imperfection to learn our true nature or character and serve as an object lesson. This word is often used in the scriptures to refer to testing or temptation, and the context upon which it is used tells which one it is. James mentions some of these believers’ trials, such as poverty (James 2:15) and oppression from the rich. (James 5:1-5) James says these were to encounter various trials, which signifies that the trials these believers were facing came in many different forms.
We will find nowhere in all of the Scriptures where the believers in the Lord were spared from having life difficulties. Even tough and challenging times in life were common for Christians as well. So many of the holy ones faced challenges. The Apostle Paul tells us that, by faith, Abraham, when he was tested, as good as offered up Isaac. The Israelites rejected Moses, who had explicitly been sent by God, so Moses had to endure dealing with Pharaoh. Joseph had to face the trials of being blamed for a rape he did not commit and then be put into prison unfairly for almost thirteen years. Nehemiah and Ezra suffered the agony of the moral decay around them, and their enemies constantly tried to destroy their work and instill fear in the people. Daniel was placed in the lion’s den, and his three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, all had to face the fire of a great furnace for their remaining faithful. Isaiah had to deal with the fact that nobody would listen to his message, though he would preach his heart out. Jeremiah was put into stocks, jailed, tar pits, and was rejected by his family because he preached the wrath of God to his people. Then there was the mighty prophet Ezekiel who, when he confronted Ahab with the truth, was sought to be killed and known as the “troubler of Israel.”
We read about John the Baptist, who was put in prison and eventually beheaded for confronting King Herod in the New Testament. Peter was put in jail for preaching the gospel and ultimately killed on a cross for his faith. John was exiled to the island of Patmos for the word of God. Then there was the Apostle Paul, who was kicked out of many of the towns he went to for preaching the word of God. Paul makes mention of his trials in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10; 11:24-29.