James 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds… ESV
No one that I know of jumps for joy whenever they experience a problem. Most of us react very negatively to our problems and seek to rid ourselves of them as quickly as possible. Yet James tells us that problems can actually be productive – if we learn to respond to them in the right way.
One of the benefits of a trial is that they often expose our hidden spiritual impurities. Peter tells us that trials test our faith and purify it like gold. See 1 Peter 1:6 I have read that in order for gold to be purified, it has to go through a refining process. During the refining process the gold is heated to an extreme temperature so that it melts, thus causing the hidden impurities to separate from the gold. I have also read that these impurities often come to the top and form a skim which can then be easily removed by the refiner. Some say that in ancient times this process was repeated until the refiner could finally see his reflection in gold.
Scripture teaches us that God allows trials to come into our lives in order to refine our faith. Consider what James has to say about God’s refining process.
James 1:21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. ESV
First of all James tells us to rid ourselves of the moral impurities our trials reveal. How do we remove them? The Bible tells us that we do so by open and honest confession. See 1 John 1:5-10.
Secondly, James tells us to replace these impure thoughts and emotions with what is holy and righteous. “…humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” James 1:21 NLT
It is not enough for us to just say that some of our ways are sinful. Some people do this without any intention to change. “This is just the way I am” they say in order to try to excuse themselves. James tells us to rid ourselves of our sinful ways, and to replace them with the pure ways of God. “Receive with great humility what God has to say in His Word” James writes. “Do not just hear what God has to say and then walk away from His counsel. Determine to obey Him. Be like that individual who daily grooms themselves before a mirror. Allow the Word of God to groom your soul.” (author’s translation)
God’s grooming process is two-fold:
First He allows trials and problems to come into our lives that will help expose our weaknesses
Then He provides us with His eternal truth that can help us grow