How God Builds Character

James 1:1-4
August 22, 2022

Let’s start our journey through the James by answering some obvious questions.
Who was James?
Evidently, James was the half-brother of Jesus and the brother of Jude. He was not
James the brother of the Apostle John, He is not the son of Zebedee, not the son of
Alphaeus, or not the father of Judas. James was in Jerusalem. He was the leader of the
church in Jerusalem who spoke at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15.
Perhaps one of the most interesting things about James may be the way he died.
According to Eusebius (AD 263-340) James was thrown from the pinnacle of the Temple
(170 feet), then stoned, and a fuller (laundry-man) beat out his brains with a club.
To whom was James writing? Where was he when he was writing?
James is writing to the Jewish Christians of the Diaspora. These folks used to live in
Jerusalem, and James had probably been pastor to many of them, but now they had fled
due to Christian persecution. They were now living in other places. I tend to agree with
those who believe James may have been the first inspired writings since the book of
It is said that no other book in the NT contains as many commands as James. It will be
easier to understand James if you will remember he is not writing about becoming a
believer, he writing about how believers are to live.
Why was James writing this letter? This might be somewhat like a letter you would
write to close friend who was going through some extremely difficult and challenging
times – only this letter is inspired by God. These folks needed encouragement to do the
right things to get through these difficult times. One thing they needed to remember
was that if you want to follow Jesus then you better know how to handle difficult
situations. The trouble he is talking about is something that tests your faith.
This kind of trouble comes in all sorts of forms. Maybe you lost your job, you got bad
news from the doctor, you moved to an unfamiliar place, or you have family
problems. Things come along that test your faith. These tests are certain to come.
They are always hard to handle. If you handle this trouble well, you will move
forward. You are in for a wonderful experience with God. Fail these tests, and you will
stay where you are, and you will miss what God is trying to do in your life.
Jas 1:1 (NLT) ¶ This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus
Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”–Jewish believers scattered abroad.
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an
opportunity for great joy.
3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to

4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be
perfect and complete, needing nothing.
It has been said that “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how
you respond to what happens to you”.
One of the things we teach in Anger Management is that we are the product of our
responses to our experiences.
How we view and how we respond to what happens to us makes all the difference in
the kind of person we become.

  1. Why do you think James was writing this letter? What type of encouragement would
    scattered Christians need? (1:1)
    “…the “twelve tribes”–Jewish believers scattered abroad.”
    I think James is writing this letter because he understands, to some degree, the pain
    and disappointment that the scattered Jews were experiencing. It is my
    understanding that most of these folks left Jerusalem with little notice and were
    fleeing for their lives. When you leave in a hurry, you leave most of your belongings
    behind. So here they were; in a new place, looking for a place to live, a new way to
    earn a living, hoping to make new friends among their neighbors, and find a new
    group with whom they could worship and serve the Lord. This experience had to be
    very difficult.
    They needed to know that God knew their situation, and He was going to use this
    experience, as difficult as it was, to make their life better.
  2. What kind of negative attitudes do people often have when going through difficult
    times? Why do you think this is?
    Sometimes people want to give up, blame others, or withdraw from society because
    they are upset, mad, discouraged, and starting to think about quitting, giving up,
    and living like a hermit. Often in poverty, people have the attitude of being fated. They
    see life has being devoid of hope that things could get better. This attitude is often
    expressed with phrases like, “It is what it is.”
  3. What attitude did James tell people to exhibit when they are facing trials? (1:2)
    James wanted this folks to approach difficult times with the attitude that were just going
    to consider a great joy. How could you possibly consider hardship to be an
    opportunity for great joy? Think about the results! When troubles come our
    way we need to realize what is actually happening.
    Any temptation, any hardship, or anything that comes into our life that has the potential
    to stop or slow down the development of our faith as a follower of Jesus is trouble.
    However, when you respond as James says, you are about to get a good deal!
    God is about to do something with you that really matters. He is about to take
    another step in making you the person you want to be. It is no wonder that verse
    2 says, 2 ¶ Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it
    an opportunity for great joy.
  4. What is produced when you go through difficult experiences with the right attitude?
    (1:3-4) What are some things that can slow down your progress as a follower of Jesus?
    3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to
    grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be
    perfect and complete, needing nothing.
    The trouble, or trial, James is talking about is anything that tests your character and
    your faith as a follower of Jesus. When our faith is tested, our endurance grows.
    There are several words used here in various Bible translations; patience, endurance, or
    steadfastness. This trouble you are facing is a test of your faith. You and the people
    who see this test are about to find out just how much you believe in what you say about
    your relationship with God. Just how much do you really trust God when times are
    You are about to get a good deal! Pass this test, and God will increase your
    endurance (patience). This is God plugging you into His story in a big way. Get
    in, sit down, buckle up, and hang on. God is about to do something with you that really
    matters. He is about to take another step in making you the person you want to
    (Illustrate with people holding a heavy load)
    When trouble comes our way we need to have the right initial response. 1:4
    (KJV) But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and
    entire, wanting nothing.
    The load gets heavy.
    Some of your fellow laborers will quit.
    The outcome is hard to see while you are under the load.
    God is testing us in order to mature us.
    Don’t quit, don’t give up, God is building you up. God is making your life better. Hang
    in there. Trust Him.
    Our own lack of maturity, laziness, distraction, loss of focus, or facing difficulties with a
    bad attitude can slow down our growth as a follower of Jesus.
  5. Why does God allow people to go through trials and difficulties? What does this say
    about people who accuse God of having lack of concern for the suffering of people?
    I believe God lets us go through difficult situations because He wants us to grow and
    develop as a person. Ultimately, His goal is for us to be more like Jesus. Difficult
    times are just the ticket that can be used in our lives to grow integrity.
    Integrity is being the person who does the right thing because of your love for God.
    You are not perfect, but you work hard to please your Heavenly Father because you
    want to honor Him.
    Integrity makes you more like Peter and the other apostles in Acts 5 when they were
    arrested for preaching the gospel. When they were confronted by the high priest and
    reminded that they had been told not to teach in Jesus’ name, here is what they said:
    Acts 5:29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than
    any human authority.

Difficulty comes into everyone’s life. This is no indication that God doesn’t care
about you. In fact, when hard times come, God has promised to jump right in there
with you and walk through the difficulty by your side.
God is building people, not padding people’s lives.

  1. How does a person’s relationship with God change as he or she goes through trials
    and problems?
    When we realize what is actually happening and we have the right initial response, we
    are going to learn to better depend on the Lord during difficult times. We are about
    to get closer to Him, experience His joy, know His heart better, and walk with
    Him on paths He directs. We grow closer to Him, and we realize His love more clearly.
  2. How can I have great joy when I am in the middle of difficult and trying
    circumstances that are testing my integrity? It is all about what you look at.
    I can focus on God’s desired outcome, not my temporary difficulty.
  3. What would it be like to be a believer in Jesus who is “not deficient in anything?” How
    do you feel about a Loving Heavenly Father Who is at work in your life as He builds you
    into that kind of person?
    4 (NLT)So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be
    perfect and complete, needing nothing.
    4 (NET) And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you
    will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything
    We would then be in usable form in any situation.
    I would spend less time being disappointed in my own actions.
    I would see positive results from my service to the Lord.