“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”
~ James 1:2


Hi James and Ellen,

Have you ever been tempted to sin? If you have been tempted to sin, how have you been tempted to sin? Do you think that it is good to be tempted to sin? Do you always sin when you are tempted? What to you is sin? Ask your dad if he has ever gotten his car stuck in a mudhole. A mudhole is like a sin. If a guy or gal gets his or her car stuck in a mudhole, he or she will probably get covered with mud as he or she digs his or her car out of the mudhole. Your grandpaa knows what it is like to be stuck in a mudhole. Your grandpaa became stuck a couple of times during the twelve years that he and your grandmaa lived in Bolivia as missionaries on the South America Mission field missionary team. One of the times when the white C-10 Chevrolet pickup that your grandmaa and grandpaa owned became stuck was when your grandmaa and grandpaa were taking a South America Mission summer team of college age young guys and gals to a jungle village called Monte Verde. Monte Verde is located about 110 kilometers from Concepción – which is where your grandmaa and grandpaa were instrumental in implementing the two year rural resident Bible education center and where your grandmaa and grandpaa lived for three years. The road that goes to Monte Verde from Concepción is not much more in some places a path. When your grandpaa left Concepción to go to Monte Verde with the summer team, your grandpaa knew that it was going to take most of the day to make the little over 60 mile drive to Monte Verde. The pickup that your grandmaa and grandpaa owned became stuck about midafternoon in a stretch of thick muck. Your grandpaa does not remember how long that it took him to finally get the pickup through that stretch of muck; your grandpaa does remember though that that he became covered with mud while doing it. A couple of kilometers ahead of where the pickup that your grandmaa and grandpaa owned became stuck was a small ranch composed of three or four thatched roof huts. Because it was late afternoon by the time that your grandpaa arrived with the summer team at this isolated ranch, your grandpaa decided to spend the night at this place. While the summer team guys and gals went to a nearby river to clean up, your grandpaa gave the gals who were living on the small ranch some of the food that your grandpaa was taking with the summer team to Monte Verde so that the gals could fix the summer team a hot meal. Your grandpaa also set up a projector so that he could show a film that evening to the guys, gals and kids who were living on the small ranch. By the time that your grandpaa had time to walk to the nearby river to wash up some, it was quite dark. A little six or seven year old girl went with your grandmaa and grandpaa to the river. After your grandpaa had taken off – except for his boxer shorts, all his muddy, filthy clothes, and as your grandmaa was holding a flashlight so that your grandpaa could see as he was stepping into the river to get as much dirt off as possible, the little gal immediately told your grandpaa to not go any further into the river. Your grandmaa asked the little girl why your grandpaa should not walk any further out into the river’s water. The little girl just said ‘caimán’. A caimán is a Spanish word for alligator.

Getting stuck in a mudhole – or in a stretch of thick muck like your grandpaa did, and getting filthy dirty is one thing; walking into a river where there are alligators is another thing. If you were to ever get stuck in a mudhole and you were to become covered with mud, you would be able to – after you get unstuck, wash off all the mud in a river that does not have alligators in it. The only way that a guy, gal or kid can have sin’s filth be washed from him or her is to have Jesus’ shed blood cleanse him or her – which happens the moment that he or she makes the decision of faith in believing that Jesus sacrificed His life on a cross for him or her. James – who was Jesus’ half bro, wrote a short, pithy letter to the twelve dispersed Israelite people group tribal clans. James – as being either the ascribed or chosen leader of the emerging Christ-follower community of guys and gals – which his half bro – Jesus, fomented, used a circular letter to chide his fellow Christ-follower compatriot guys and gals to shape up if they wanted to call themselves Christ-followers. James begins James 1 with a short greeting and then he goes right to what he wants to tell them. James in verse 2 tells the dispersed Christ-follower guys and gals to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,” The trials here are the life difficulties that you already have encountered and that you will invariably encounter as you live out your preordained lives. A life difficulty is not a sin. A life difficulty is a life lesson that God gives to you to strengthen your faith perseverance. The trials referred to later on in this chapter are the life temptations that could lead you to sin. Life temptations are attacks on moral integrity. You have already encountered and will always encounter all kinds of alluring or enticing life temptations that have been and will not be sent by God, that will toy with your ‘old man’ nature’s desires and that may lead you to compromise your faith ideals – which has you becoming muck covered and which may ultimately lead to a physical death – as to continue in sinful actions is like walking into a river that has hungry alligators in it. Is there a life mudhole ‘sin’ in which you have already gotten stuck? What kind of ‘alligator’ sin is wanting to ‘eat you’?

It was also really important to James that a Christ-follower guy or gal always uses the wisdom that is always obtainable from God, that a Christ-follower guy or gal does not just hear what God’s word is saying but that God’s word is lived out in the life of the Christ-follower guy or gal and that the tongue of a Christ-follower guy or gal is to be always wisely kept prudently in check. What have you learned from James on how to live a Christ-follower life?

James 1 (748)