Christian Maturity

James 1:1-4

1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.


We are about to embark on a series of sermons from the Book of James. Together, we will discover Christian lifestyle of spiritual maturity that James teaches; and by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we grow mature spiritually. So, who was the author of the Book of James?

Obviously, James introduced himself as the author of the Book of James. Most Bible scholars suggest that James was the half-brother of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was also the council leader of Jerusalem church. Not a few believers have known that the English name “James” was translated from Greek name “Iakóbos,” a variant of Hebrew name “Jacob.”

So, why did English Bible translators use the name “James” instead of “Jacob?”

Speculators suggest that the name “James” had been used to identify Disciples of Christ from the Hebrew Patriarch Jacob, but no official document to support such concept.

Anyway, the letter of James did not address any specific church or individuals. It was written to encourage Christians who were scattered all over the world. Bible scholars suggest that particularly, Christians with Jewish background were the primary recipients of James.

Since most of us have no Jewish background, would the practicality of Christian beliefs that James teaches be very useful and helpful for us to grow mature spiritually? Let’s find out!

James described himself as servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. He did not mention that he was the Council Chairman or leader of Jerusalem church. Many individuals would crave for prestigious office, rank, stature or standing; but with God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to be servant of the Lord is most exemplary and commendable. Listen: To be servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ is greatest prestige that genuine Christian should aspire for.

The Lord Jesus Christ had illustrated in a parable what believers should aspire in this world, if we expect rewards from God. He teaches that faithful servants should expect in Matthew 25:21, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

What does sharing with the master’s happiness? God is eternally blessed and satisfied, and he welcomes his faithful servants to share his glorious blessedness and happiness.

Just imagine: Do you know blessed person, and he shares everything he has with you because you faithfully serve or work for that blessed person? How much more with God?

Observe reflectively: The Lord never specified any office; he did not say, “Well done, pastor, preacher, apostle, prophet, evangelist, missionary, seminary professor, administrator, church leader, deacon, elder.” No ministry office is more important; there are no trivial or minor ministries before God. But, why did the Lord not mention any particular ministry office?

What’s the purpose of specific office positions, if all ministries are equally important to God? It says in Ephesians 4:11-13? 11Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

The Lord had instructed us to be his witnesses and make disciples. But, God rewards faithfulness in ministry services. The leaders that the Lord gave to the church are necessary to identify which ministry that God designed for each us to excel. The Lord gives spiritual gifts to all believers uniquely. When we use our spiritual gifts, we grow mature spiritually.

And, God chooses leaders and members of particular ministries; he expects faithfulness. And, faithfulness and diligence of service will be rewarded, and not the ministry office that one occupies. God observes our lifestyle always to reward us appropriately. And, spiritual maturity is very essential and instrumental to faithfulness and diligence of service to the Lord. Spiritual maturity of Christians is practically manifested in their diligence and faithfulness to the Lord.

What can we learn from the Book of James about lifestyle to Christian maturity? What are practical manifestations in the lifestyle of believers who had matured spiritually?

1.  Joy

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds 

To consider is to esteem, suppose, count, regard or think; and believers who matured spiritually experience joy even when they face trials, surrounded by challenges or in the midst of struggles. Joy, gladness and delight amplify diligence and faithfulness, even in the midst of difficulties; and, we grow in confidence that the Lord rewards faithfulness.

It teaches us in 1 Corinthians 10:13, 13No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

The Greek origin of the term ‘temptation’ has the same Greek origin of the term ‘trial.’ Why did James advise to regard as pure joy, when we encounter trials or temptation?

Joy is practical proof of trust in the Lord; and that, he designed great things for believers.

Reflect on this: Can you easily rejoice during difficulties? We just cannot rejoice readily when problems arise because our instinctive tendency is to be sad, pathetic or miserable. When we are struggling in life, we cannot force to be joyful, can we? If we cannot readily consider it as pure joy when we face trials, troubles or difficulties, what did James want us to learn?

Remember: Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit; and, it did not originate from us; we cannot be naturally joyful during trials. Joy in the midst of struggles practically exhibits reverence and submission to the Lordship of Christ in and over our life. Meaning: When Jesus Christ actively performs his Lordship over us, his Holy Spirit empowers us and produces joy in us, even in trials.


Many years ago, a newly graduate Christian was favored and employed by the same organization that had supported his studies. He was very enthusiastic worker; and as personal way showing his gratitude, he dreamed of serving the said organization until he retires. Yet, few years later, leadership had changed, and they decided to terminate the said employee.

Friends and individuals close to him sympathized with him because they knew that he did not have any other source of income to support his growing family. Yet, this Christian was not bothered at all about his future. It came to his mind a Bible passage that inspired him.

It says in Job 1:21, 21Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.

Think about it: If we cannot bring anything when we depart from this world, why do we crave for worldly things? Of course, individuals with worldly mindset focused on worldly things.

May the Lord help us grow mature spiritually as grow deeper in our understanding that we should focus more attention and be faithful to things that would benefit us eternally!

Truly, whenever we face difficulties that we had not encountered before, our tendency is to feel bad about the situation. During difficulties, examine your faith in the Lord, if you can.

How’s my faith in Christ? Have I grown mature spiritually or not yet? Do I sense joy in the midst of trials? It is helpful to read the word of God regularly; and, our soul would be refreshed, even when we face difficulties. Can you believe it? It says in Psalm 19:7, 7The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

Are you puzzled why problems at workplaces persist, even when you do your best to be productive employees? Why are people so mean and offensive when you are kind to them?

Do you overlook or let it slide when you’re offended? God’s word provides necessary refresher.

Friends, regularly read the word of God, and you will be refreshed and become wise. You may not understand everything now but, know that the Lord allows predicaments for the betterment of those who trust in him. Experiences of biblical character can inspire us also.

Have you read about Abraham, Joseph, Jephthah, David, Job, Esther, Daniel, or Paul?

Do you have pure joy when you face trials? Joy manifests your faith in the Lord.

2.  Faith

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 

Faith that comes from God is alive and active. Faith is confidence in the Lord and his great plan for us; such godly faith is gift from God. It does not come from humans. Anyone can claim to have faith! But, how can we be sure, if we have faith or not? Can we sense faith?

We cannot see, hear, touch or smell faith, can we? Genuine faith in God must be tested.

How is your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? It will certainly be tested eventually. What are godly means to testing of faith? Trials, difficulties, struggles, concerns of life or problems.

How do you know that your faith is tested during difficulties, struggles, concerns of life?

Of course, nobody is exempted from difficulties, struggles, problems or concerns of life.

But, for believers, trials, difficulties, struggles, problems or concerns of life are godly instrument to test our faith in the Lord, for us to know practically, if we are growing mature spiritually. If your faith in God is genuine, you would certainly desire to grow mature spiritually.

So, in the midst of trials and you sense joy in your heart, you must have grown mature spiritually. The testing of our faith commensurate to the faith we have in the Lord. As we grow in our faith in him, we would experience more of his grace and love for us.

If you cannot realize or perceive trials as testing of faith, if you cannot sense joy in your hearts and feel depressed and emotionally disturbed during difficulties, ask yourself, “Do I have faith?” Ask God to give you faith, pray for increase of faith and empowerment of his Spirit.

When the Holy Spirit produces joy in us, we can acknowledge and ascertain that faith is tested when difficult concerns of life attack. We sense joy in our hearts and we become more pro-active, productive and figure out solutions instead of just sulking or playing blame games.

Sadly, blame games is a natural inclination of the sinful human tendencies.

Blame Games

Few years ago, a professional sports team lost its chance to advance during play-off games. The team was considered championship caliber by pundits. In a crucial game that they could have easily won, one of the greater players made a terrible decision, and he was blamed that their team was eliminated from play-off games. Subsequently, that great player wanted to be out of the team and traded to another team; blame game damaged friendship in the team.

Undesirable circumstances can happen, develop and surface whenever blame games is entertained. If someone blames you for terrible situation, can you easily ignore it? Do you also look for someone to blame? Blame game is biblical human problem from the very beginning.

When the Lord asked Adam if he ate from the forbidden fruit, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the ancient serpent. When there’s blame game, the human sinful nature prevails.

Apostle Paul advised in Philippians 2:12-15, 12Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” 

In this world populated with warped and crooked generation, we’ve got to grow mature spiritually. We should work out our salvation. We have to make sure that we have active faith in the Lord. Genuine faith is tested to know the level of our spirituality, if we matured or not yet.

When you are driving, then suddenly someone cut into your path, when teachers made mistakes of your grades, if your boss blamed you for mistake you did not commit, if you were watching basketball, and a referee favored the other team, how do you feel or react?

Unfavorable situations test us, if we are practicing faith at the moment or not?

Pray for increase of faith in the Lord and also spiritual growth!

Another manifestation of faith that had matured spiritually is perseverance.

3.  Perseverance

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Perseverance is steadfastness, resiliency or patient endurance to continue on given task despite of difficult obstacle. Perseverance of believers shows strong hope, determination and confidence in the Lord that, he would accomplish great things for believers who persevere. When our faith in the Lord produces perseverance in us, we have no desire to quit, we persist and determined to keep trusting the Lord, no matter what may disturb, frustrate or irritate us.

In the midst of trials and when situations are not favorable, we keep hoping that the Lord would do great things for our best. Perseverance practically displays spiritual maturity.

When faith in the Lord had produced perseverance, do we still feel bad when laid-off from work, when exams fail, when you share the gospel and ignored? Any undesirable situation may still cause us to feel bad; but, when our faith in God produces perseverance in us, we persist with resiliency; and, we keep on believing in spite of difficulties or obstacles of life.

Perseverance shows steady confidence that God has great plans despite uncertainties.

When the Holy Spirit of Christ empowers us, we can persevere in every task he gives us. The Lord wants us to grow in perseverance as we grow completely mature spiritually.

With perseverance, we trust the Lord no matter what situation we may face; and, we discover that we lack nothing. We experience the fullness of life that Christ has promised. It is when we completely submitted to the Lord as his shepherd.

King David said in Psalm 23:1-6, 1The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Do you lack nothing of basic necessities? Do you have tranquility of heart and mind? Do you desire to follow the path of the Lord? When uncertainties arise, do you hope that the Lord has prepared better future for you? Do you desire to read his word? Do you find comfort in his instructions? Are you comfortable when people around you are not friendly? Do you have strong confidence that the Lord has designed circumstances for your betterment?

It says in Romans 8:28-30, 28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

It is great hope to live with our Lord Jesus Christ in his heaven and be glorified, isn’t it?

But make sure that you really have faith in God.

Don’t deceive yourself.

Faith in the Lord should be tested.

Evaluate yourself personally if you have faith in the Lord:

Do you sense joy when you are in difficulties concerns, when you face obstacles of life?

            Do you personally sense that your faith in the Lord is tested when you have problems?

            Do you persevere and continue to trust the Lord no matter what may come?

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If you are convinced and have affirmative answers without any doubt, praise the Lord.

But, if you are not ready to say “yes” convincingly and have uncertainties in your heart and mind, pray for increase of faith and to be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit of Christ until you sense joy in the midst of trials and you persevere even during unfavorable situations.

Glory to our heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, forever and ever! Amen!

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