1:2 – My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
1:2 My brethren, – James immediately points to those he is writing to as equals. He never uses his position of authority as a position to abuse power. His humility as a servant is grounded in Christ.
1:2 count it all joy when you fall into various trials, – James’ first direct teaching looks, on the surface to be a paradox. How can it be joyful or even profitable for us when we meet trials? This entire passage focuses on the development of the Christian character.
Christians are not immune to difficulties and hardships, trials and general times of ‘dryness’. Good people can suffer bad things. In these times, though it is the common perception, it is not necessarily God who is testing us. Instead, there stands the point of view that God is allowing us to test ourselves, to reveal to us what is resident within our hearts. God knows what is in our heart, we do not. (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
Count – to consider, think of it. Literally, to think of it as a joy when you fall into various trials.
Joy – from the Greek word chara (Strongs #5479) it literally means gladness and being joyful. Trials are the cause for occasions of which there is to be joy. Matthew Henry writes that “Philosophy may instruct men to be calm under their troubles; but Christianity teaches them to be joyful, because such exercises proceed from love and not fury in God.”
Each one of us is responsible for our reactions to the trials we encounter. The biblical wisdom of James’ message teaches us that by having a joyful spirit we can objectively look at the situation and grow from it. By allowing circumstances to weigh us down and negatively affect our mindset, our vision of the true nature of the problem becomes blurred and we are unable to deal fairly and correctly with it.
When we consider a circumstance with joy we will benefit from the blossoming of other spiritual fruits as our study of the next few verses will show.
when you fall – The Greek word for fall as used in this context is the word peripitoperi, “around”), hence it signifies to “fall” in with, or among, to light upon, to come across. See Luke 10:30 – “among (robbers)”. (Strongs # 4045) and Vines Dictionary defines it as “to fall around”
into various trials – Quite often trials in our lives come across us, we don’t go seeking them out. In fact most people try to avoid any ‘hardship’. James expressly writes that we should not despise them, but rather learn from them and grow within our own Christian character. It is important to note that the temptation to sin is not from God. He never tempts any one to sin. It is against His moral attributes of holiness and righteousness. Man is responsible for his own sin, however what the enemy intends for evil God can turn it into good.
Trials – The King James version translates trials as ‘divers temptations’. That is ‘manifold temptations’. These trials are ones that have a beneficial purpose. They can be divinely sent (Lk 22:28; Acts 20:19; 1 Pet 1:6; 4:12), though God will not cause us to sin, nor tempt us to sin. Matthew 26:41 warns that we should watch and pray against entering into ‘temptations’ by carelessness or disobedience. God is able to provide a way of escape for ‘no temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to, but with the temptation will make a way of escape’ (1 Cor 10:13). We find that God has a purpose for trials.