Faith has to be tested to prove that it is real faith. This is the opening theme of James’ letter, and in our continued reading of Job we see an extreme example of testing from God. Paul wrote, “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

In James 5 we read, “Behold, we consider those blessed who remain steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (5:11). Being ‘steadfast’ is more than ‘patience’, which the AV uses, but even it uses ‘enduring’ for the same Greek word in 2 Corinthians 1:6.

James is generally thought to be the half-brother of our Lord. He turned from the rejection of Christ (John 7:5) to acceptance and played an important role at the Jerusalem conference (Acts 15:13; note also Acts 21:18). He tells us that the we should “count it all joy … when you meet trials of various kinds” (1:2). James had become convinced of the power of ‘positive thinking’. He then says, “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete …”. The 21st century is producing many challenges to our faith, both as to what we believe and also as to whether there is a God at all! How well is our faith surviving in an utterly godless environment?

Jesus told his disciples, “Behold I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). What did he mean? We know what the first serpent said and how it sowed seeds of doubt. Believers have to reverse this and be wise. We need to sow seeds of doubt in the minds of those who believe there is no God, or trust in themselves. But becoming worldly wise is dangerous, for then they (and we) cease to be “lambs”.

Spiritual wisdom is the most precious possession we can develop. James says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously … but let him ask in faith, with no doubting …” (James 1:5,6). How do you ask God? By prayer and by searching His holy word for wisdom. Do we appreciate this blessing? Too often our priorities are twisted and we should remember what Jesus said. “Everyone to whom much is given, of him (and her) much will be required …” (Luke 12:48). Also, “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3). So what is the testing of our faith producing?