Self-Pity or Joy?

James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:1-4).

Life is not fair.

The original recipients of James’ epistle—Christians who had been scattered abroad by the lash of Saul’s great persecution (Acts 8:1)—were keenly aware of this hard truth. Stephen’s death had unleashed a blood lust in the Pharisee from Tarsus which was ferocious and seemed unquenchable. Loved ones were ripped out of their homes and hauled off to prison because they had committed the “crime” of becoming disciples of Jesus. Havoc was being inflicted upon congregation after congregation.

Many modern psychologists and preachers would’ve counseled James to write with great tenderness and pity. Empathize with them. Feel their pain and hurt. Share their fears. Focus on humanizing God so that his readers know He understands and feels sorry for them.

The Holy Spirit through James’ pen did not take this course of action.

Even though we do have a great high priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses and ensures we can obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need from heaven’s throne (Hebrews 4:15-16), no divine pity party is thrown for these beleaguered recipients.

A major reason why life is not fair is because Satan is alive and well. His intense wrath towards God and his ferocious warfare against all who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus never subsides. When evil is on the offensive, it is no time for self-pity or retreat from battle. It is time for soldiers of the cross to stand firm (Ephesians 6:13-14), set your jaw like flint (Isaiah 50:7), and rejoice (Matthew 5:10-12).

Pity parties are unbecoming of soldiers in God’s army. Joy is not.

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Author: jchowning

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