Jas 1:1-4 “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
There is a theme present in the writings of the apostles: they all refer to themselves in the beginning as servants. One of the definitions of servant is “devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests (Thayer).” James is here declaring that his devotion is to God and the Lord Jesus Christ. While we may not be apostles, as disciples of Jesus, we should also seek the place of a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever we find to do, we should do it with all our might (Ecc 9:10) to the glory of God.
James is writing here to the Jews that were scattered during the persecution of those that followed and declared the teachings of this man Jesus. The term “scattered abroad,” according to Strong’s carries the thought of “dispersion, that is (specifically and concretely) those (converted) Israelites resident in Gentile countries.” James is writing to his fellow Jews who are now living among the Gentiles for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He closes his initial statement with the word, “greeting.” The word translated as “greeting” is the same word that is translated as “rejoice,” and means to be “full of cheer; calmly happy or well off (see Strong’s).”
Like those early Christians, when we are converted, we realize that we are dispersed among those who have not seen Christ or heard about Him as we have. This should cause us to rejoice, since we have an opportunity to tell others about this wonderful Savior and what He has done in our lives! Because we know that we cannot cause them to know Him does not mean that we should not tell them about Him. It may be that the God of heaven and earth will grant them to have a similar experience as the queen of Sheba did with King Solomon; “Howbeit I believed not their words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: for thou exceedest the fame that I heard (2Ch 9:6).”
As witnesses of Jesus Christ, we are “scattered abroad” for a reason. We may often find ourselves surrounded (fallen into) by all kinds (divers) of adversity (temptations). When we find ourselves in this condition, the last thing we should do is sit and worry about the situation. James tells us to count it all joy, or to consider the circumstance with “calm delight (see Strong’s).” Can you imagine being in a den of lions and being calmly delighted? Have you ever been called before any type of tribunal and been calmly delighted? Has anyone ever attacked you, either physically or verbally, for your faith and left you calmly delighted? Yet, when our trust is in Him whom we serve, we can do just that. We can face the adversities and the trials of life with calm delight, being thankful that we are counted worthy to know the fellowship of His suffering.
We can count our adversities as joy because we know something that is beyond the power of mortal men. The word translated as “knowing” in verse three means to have an absolute knowledge of something, according to Strong’s. We know without a doubt that the testing (trying) or our reliance upon Christ for deliverance (faith) accomplishes (worketh) a cheerful endurance (patience). Patience is not about simply bearing something because we have no choice: it is something done with good cheer.
Jesus told us that in this world we would have tribulation, but to be of good cheer (be patient) because He has overcome the world (Joh 16:33)! We are instructed to lay hold on (let) the complete (perfect) act (work) of a cheerful endurance (patience). By having a cheerful endurance when our faith is tried, we find that we are made complete (perfect) in Jesus Christ and that we sound and without blemish (entire) thanks to Him. We cannot fail (want) in any way as long as our trust is fastened upon the God and Christ that we serve!
May we go forth into the world where we are with a cheerful endurance, showing to every man our reliance upon Christ for our deliverance and proving daily who it is we serve!