I. 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
A. Usually we think of things in our life to be thankful for as those things which are pleasant.
B. But for the believer, even the hard things, even the seemingly horrible things, are for our good.
C. God has a purpose for trials: He’s using them to do good things in our lives.
D. That’s something to be thankful for.
II. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
A. The children of God have a loving Father who is eager to help them when they ask.
B. The One who sits on the throne of the universe “gives generously to all without reproach.”
1. Not reluctant or begrudging
C. Especially wisdom (in a baffling world)
D. That’s something to be thankful for.
III. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
A. God does not have this generous, big-hearted attitude toward everyone.
B. Doubting doesn’t mean you have answered questions.
C. He has his suspicions that God isn’t actually good, isn’t actually trustworthy, isn’t actually loving, or isn’t actually there.
D. So, this is a warning to those who try prayer because they want something but they don’t really trust in God.
E. But even that warning is something to be thankful for.
IV. 9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
A. Managing your walk with Christ
B. Knowing which ingredient is needed in the soup.
C. Sometimes people feel confident and secure and on top of the world. “I am rich, I have prospered, and there is nothing that I need.”
1. Those people are desperate for a reminder of their tinyness and nothingness.
2. They need to be reminded of their mortality, “because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.”
3. They need to be reminded of the uncertainty and fragility of their earthly prosperity.
4. When you’re feeling rich and successful, how helpful it is to glory in your vulnerability!
5. Let the rich brother boast in his humiliation!
D. Sometimes people feel insecure and afraid and insignificant and unloved.
1. They need reminders of how much they are loved, and what a great hope awaits them, and how they are citizens of the kingdom of heaven, and how in Christ they possess the world’s greatest treasure.
2. Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation!
E. This is what’s so ingenious about the discipline of thanksgiving – not the holiday but the activity.
1. It does both. It puts us in our place, it makes us realize that all we have came from God, we didn’t achieve it or create it. So it glories in our lowness.
2. It also exalts us because it helps us realize how much we have, how much we’ve been blessed, how much we’ve been loved!
3. It causes us to step back and see the big picture: we are little, undeserving people who have been greatly loved and blessed by a very big God!
4. That’s something to be thankful for.
V. 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
A. Even when it’s hard to find things to be thankful for, we can be thankful for the promise that if we bear our trials in faith, we will “receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
B. Even things we don’t yet enjoy but know someday we will are things to be thankful for.
VI. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
A. I’m not going to make a point from these verses about thanksgiving.
B. But let me just say that these verses go along with v.9-11, where we talked about managing your spiritual life and knowing what ingredient you need in the soup.
C. The Bible makes it clear that God is sovereign even over temptation and sin and evil.
D. But it’s also clear that God hates evil/ sin and that man is responsible for sin.
E. So which of these truths is the ingredient we need to use when we’re being tempted to sin?
1. Obviously it is the fact that God hates evil/sin and people are responsible for their sin.
VII. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
A. Everything we have is from God. Every breath, every bite of food, every kind word, every pleasant breeze, every beautiful sunset, every song, every
B. Even the gift of having a new heart, of being born again as a child of God.
C. And this goodness of our Father is dependable. There is no waning of it in times of hardship, there is no wavering of it — ever.
D. But notice that he begins this by saying, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.”
1. He recognizes that our hearts sometimes tell us that He is not doing a good job being good to us.
2. He recognizes that we have an enemy who loves to whisper lies into our ears that our Father is not good, that He does not love us.
3. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters. Your Father is the generous giver of all good things to you. He gave you life in His Son, and He will not withhold any good thing from you, including the trials which are sometimes just what you need.
4. Those are things to be thankful for.