My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations;…
I. TRIALS ARE A COMMON CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE.
1. Numerous. They come one after another in quick succession, attack us at every point, and, by reiterated importunity, wear out resistance. A continual dropping wears the stone, and blow after blow shatters the fortress.
2. Diversified. The trials are addressed to the different elements of our nature, and are brought to bear on the ever-varying conditions of our life.
3. Combined. They conspire to encompass and overthrow, with such close and serried ranks that there seems no way of escape, and the sorely beset sufferer says, "All these things are against me."
4. Intensified. Often, in the case of Christians of every age, the trials which befall them are more grievous from the time, place, and manner of their occurrence — sufferings inflicted through those that are dear, or when weakened by age or infirmity, and removed from the sympathy and succour of friends.
II. TRIALS ARE A NECESSARY CHRISTIAN DISCIPLINE. They are designed to reveal to us our own sinfulness and weakness, to discover the graces of the Spirit, to prove the strength of our faith, the ardour of our love, the constancy of our devotion. Like the tree which becomes the more firmly Tooted by the blasts which toss and twist its branches, the believer only clings more tenaciously to his Lord when his soul is tried by affliction.
III. TRIALS ARE A COMPLETION OF CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. What but lives thus perfected by the chastening hand of God can bow cheerfully beneath poverty, feeble health, and dark days of discouragement, or bear up under calumny and vexatious opposition, or wait and work even though the promise tarry and the blessing seems withheld? In proportion as we endure, we obtain grace in fullest measure, and adequate to every demand or emergency.
IV. TRIALS ARE A SOURCE OF CHRISTIAN GLADNESS. The conscious joy of trials springs from the results which follow them.
1. The honour conferred. Suffering for Christ is a gift of favour.
2. The comfort imparted. A stronger sense of assurance is wrought in the soul, and when trials are peculiarly severe, often a foretaste of future felicity is obtained, and martyrs are more than conquerors.
3. The usefulness achieved. The silent heroism and calm endurance of the sufferer are often more effective in maintaining and spreading the truth than the logical reasoning and persuasive eloquence of the preacher.
(W. Ormiston, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;