Thursday, March 17, 2016

We have Good God as our Father

James 1:13-18   
Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
What temptations are you going through in the moment? Let us take it that you have no job and so you are struggling to support yourself financially. Are you tempted to think that if you are dishonest or steal, that the Lord will understand you? Or perhaps your husband has turned to heavy drinking, and so has become irresponsible and careless (I can’t even imagine how trying this is), are you tempted to stop submitting to him? Perhaps you have serious financial struggles and debts, are you tempted to be dishonest in dealing with your creditors? It could be that your parents are unreasonable, and overbearing, are you tempted to be disobedient? It could be that your employer is unfaithful in paying your salary or other dues on time, are you tempted to grumble like the world? This are some of the real life circumstances that we contend with day by day. But we need to be very vigilant. Do not use your circumstances as an occasion for sin.
In the few years I have been a pastor of this church, I have seen a few people who are poor, or widows, or sick or under other unfortunate circumstances, and I really sympathize with them for these circumstances are no fun. But a good number of them, under the weight and pressure of these situations, have been untruthful, dishonest and sometimes even deceitful in order to obtain more financial help! Consider your difficult circumstance in life, may I convince you that God is very good? You need to be assured that our Lord is good so that you may be sure that He will uphold you through all the challenges of life. There is no way you can walk with God in life’s trials and temptations if you live in doubt of His goodness.
The people that James was writing to were tempted to use the persecution that they were going through as a justification for falling into sin. Once you start thinking that your life is so difficult that the Lord will understand if you fail in other areas then know that you are in the danger zone. On the other hand, there are others who reasoned that since the Lord sovereignly sent or allowed some trials that have caused you to be tempted, therefore God has tempted me to sin. This type of reasoning, which is very common with people and it is one of the evidences that we are true children of Adam! Adam did not only blame Eve but he also blamed God for giving Eve to him! But James in these verses clears God name and absolves Him of any blame, (not that God needs anyone to clear His name!) and shows that God is infinitely holy, too holy to be marred with any human temptation or sin. Not only that but also that God is infinitely good, that He only does good to His people. We must depend on Him, love Him and then His promises will be ours.
1.      God is Good is Because He Tempts No One
a)     Don’t blame God
Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
We are pot-training our two year old son, Gaius. The other day I found his trousers wet and I asked him what happened and he said that the dog did it. I reminded him that we don’t own a dog. Then he responded that it was Asaph’s bunny that wet his pants. Then I asked him how did the bunny come into the house, since it can neither open it’s kennel nor our house. Then he said, Ruth, opened the door for the bunny and then it wet his trousers. Patiently I reminded him that Ruth had gone to school in the morning so there was no way she could have done it while in school. Then he innocently asked me if it was God! This serves to prove the little Gaius is as much a son of Adam as we all are. Blame it on others, even God! No wonder when Martin Luther and his wife Catherine got their first daughter, Elizabeth on December 10 1527, he wrote to his mother, ‘Dear lady, God has produced from me and my wife Katie a little heathen. We hope you will be willing to become her spiritual mother and help make her a Christian.[1]” Children are not little angels after all!
Stop saying that God is tempting you, because He is not. God is neither tempted with evil, nor does He tempt anyone. It is not in His nature, to be tempted with evil for He is the Holy God, separated from sinners. James appeals to the otherness of God to show that He is good, too good to be unkind. Gordon Keddie so well puts it here:
… all attempts to blame our sins on God, or His sovereignty (the biblical doctrine of predestination), or the way he made us (our temperament), or our circumstances in life (‘the breaks,’ people call them), or other people, must be rejected. These are no more than attempts at self-justification. And when God is blamed, they are blasphemies against His perfect righteousness.[2]
b)     You are the man to bear the blame
“Wait…” you say, “what about the temptations that have weeded all around and about me? From where do they come from?” Pastor James very wisely responds, But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (v.14-15). In fewer words, James is saying, blame it on yourself! In view of this, we are worse than Adam and Eve who were tempted by the voice of the serpent, for the tempting voice is the voice of our own sinful nature. James is responds here as Nathan responded to David, “You are the man!”
In these two verses James nails the problem right on its head. The one who is blameworthy is you, not God! You are tempted when you sing the tune of your own evil desires. You are constantly hatching babies called sin and that is why there are so many grandchildren called sin in your backyard and in your cabinet.
Sin is difficult to deal with for a lustful man, who is swollen with earthly ambitions. Temptations come in the direction of your desires. The language here is of fishing. So I will freely give you some fishing lessons. When you go fishing, you must carry at least three things, you must have your fishing line, a container to carry back the fish and the most important of all, you carry the baits that would attract the fish in  your direction. You put a hoot at the end the fishing line with the bait. When the fish smells the food it will come quickly lured and enticed by it and swallow it and soon the fisherman will shout, “Eureka! I caught the fish!”
Pastor James shows us that the life-cycle of sin begins with the conception of evil desires in our hearts. These evil desires then give birth to sinful action in our lives. Finally, these sinful deeds bring death and destruction. This is the nature of the dreadful life-cycle of sin.[3] God is very clear on this matter – the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). If you plant evil desires and sprout sin, then be sure that you will reap death.
Therefore, will you stop blaming God and blame yourself? Will you look at your own worldliness and fleshly passions, youthful ambitions, covetousness and lust and tame them? I can assure you that you can’t tame them by blaming others or God. Remember Cain? He was told by God, “… sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Gen. 4:7) Cain didn’t and the end is that he found the grandson of this dreadful evil desire - death. Amnon, David’s son lusted after his sister Tamar and went on to rape her, but not so long afterwards, he also kissed the grandson of evil desire, that is, death, by the hands of his own brothers! From these two cases, there is no mention of the devil as the temptor, even if I am sure he had a role to play in their downfall. The devil is the most blamed creature, everyone blames it on the devil. But be advised that the devil is not omnipresent. He is not all-knowing either. The pages of scriptures do not reveal so much culpability of the devil in temptations as much as the flesh! Therefore, James very strongly warns you against blaming God in your temptations.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. (v.16). This is a warning given by a loving brother to His brethren, for he would not want his own brothers in Christ to live in the deception. In this phrase, James communicates his love for the readers and his concern for them. he encouraged them that they ought not to be deceived. They have no reason to be deceived when the Lord  has revealed so much by the Scriptures. We would be wise to drink from the fountain of the Word of God instead of drink the poison of deception.
2.      God is Good because He Gives Perfect Gifts
God is good because it is His nature. This stands in sharp contrast with us, whose nature is to sin. God can only do good and not evil. This is true because, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
From this verse, we can say two things:
a)       God is the source of every good and every perfect gift.
God is extremely generous in what He gives. For we see that He gives every good and every perfect gift. This statement speaks of both the quality of the gift – it is good and perfect. Besides, reveals that the manner of giving is good and perfect. It also underlines the fact that good and perfect gift can only come from God and nowhere else. In other words, the only source of every good and perfect gift is God, or God is the only producer and giver of every good and perfect gift. Motyer puts it this way, every need is fully underwritten by the endless and exactly appropriate gifts of God[4].
James is reminding his persecuted readers of God’s goodness so that in their trials they may not only realize that it is not God who is tempting them, but also that they have God on their side to endow them with all His goodness and perfect gifts. The negative statement, God does not tempt anyone is put in the right perspective by this positive statement. For God’s plan is to outwork what is good for them.
We must realize that the world is not the source of every good and every perfect gift. It cannot afford any good and therefore it has no good to give us. That which is truly good comes from above, that is from God. Only the Father of lights, who is the Creator, Sustainer of all creation and the Saviour of sinners, is the source and a constant dispenser of all good.
Why is God is called the Father of lights? Because from him we have both natural and spiritual light. Did He not say in the beginning, “Let there be light?” Did He not create elements and gave them specific instructions about emitting light? The physical light is from God. Who has conveyed us from the domain of (spiritual) darkness into the marvelous light? It is God who is light, in whom there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5) and He has made us the children of light (Eph. 5:8).
b)     God is unchangeable and dependable
God only gives the perfect gifts and He is immutably dependable. James tells us that, God is the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. We know that even if the sun gives light so consistently, yet there are times when it is obscured by clouds, eclipsed by the moon or too hot and uncomfortable. There is no comparison between the Creator and His creation because God does not change (Mal. 3:6). A.W. Pink puts this truth about God’s immutability so succinctly, God cannot change for the better, for he is already perfect; and being perfect, He cannot change for the worse.
This glorious truth about the unchangeable nature of God presents the LORD as the most dependable and faithful. This is what we sing in this famous hymn by T.O. Chisholm;

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be!

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy Faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand has provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

3.      God is Good Because He Made us His own Children 
Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures (v.18)
This is the climax of what James says in this portion of Scripture. That is, this sovereign divine birth through the Word of truth has made us the firstfruits of His creatures. And this is the supreme example of our faithful God’s gifts that we receive from Him. This is speaking of God’s redemptive work and it follows the same pattern of Paul’s question,
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32.
Because God has given us the Gift of gifts, all other gifts in One, then surely He will give us graciously give us all things. … if being a true Christian inescapably proves to us that God is good, then there need be no doubting his goodness in respect of everything else that He does for His people.[5]
Two points are clearly made from this verse:
a)      God has sovereignly birthed us by the Word of truth
A number of things in this verse leave no doubt that James is talking about the spiritual blessing of salvation. In the previous verse we have learnt that God is our Father. Now we learn that this act of God is God’s own initiative, for it is of His own will. This is sovereign work of the Holy Spirit, and it is what Jesus told Nicodemus –
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." John 3:8.
Who can control the movement of the wind? None! In the same way, there is none who can control the work of the Holy Spirit in convicting men of sin. So we say, “I know not, how the Spirit moves convicting men of sin, Revealing Jesus through the word, Creating faith in Him[6]
In this passage we are told that we have been born again through the word of truth. This phrase, is the most important piece of evidence in favour of redemptive birth, as the instrument through which God brings people to (spiritual) life… it refers to the gospel as the agent of salvation (2 Cor. 6:7; Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:5; 2 Tim. 2:15)[7]. Which is not a strange idea, for the Holy Spirit gave the Word. And so James tells that this divinely implanted word… is able to save your souls (v.21). After all Peter himself says that we have been born again not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God (1 Peter 1:23). This spiritual birth by God is the greatest blessing, is the best gift, and is the eternal gift by which we tap into all other blessings of God.
b)     God has made us the apex of His creation in redemption
The purpose for which God birthed us or regenerated or recreated us is stated in the last part of the phrase. For James says that it was so that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures (v. 18b). The ultimate purpose of all that God does is His own glory. But in reaching this grand and glorious end, God has appointed the redeemed of the Lord as the first of the beings to worship Him, just as the Israelites offered their firstfruits as the mark of having realized the promises of God (see Deut. 26:2-10) so Christians are the ones who have been made the firstfruits.
What does it mean that we are God’s first fruit? We belong to God in a special way as believers, that is, set apart or consecrated for God’s use. He has not only owned us from the first time when He created us, but He has also bought us to be His own possession. As the firstfruit of all creation, we are the cream and apex of His creation. Notice how Daniel Dorian puts it so well;
James says God’s people are his firstfruits. We are the first and the best of His produce’. He will prove faithful. He will care for us year by year, even as He cared for Israel in the wilderness. This is what the tests should teach us. If we fail, our failure teaches us to turn to God for mercy, as he offers it in the gospel. Then as we persevere with him in love, come what may, we will receive the crown of life that He has promised.[8]
Therefore, we must acknowledge that we should be God's portion and treasure, and a more peculiar property to him, as the first-fruits were. We should become holy to the Lord, as the first-fruits were consecrated to him. Christ is the first-fruits of Christians, Christians are the first-fruits of His creatures[9].

[1] Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand, A life of Martin Luther, (Peabody, MA, Hendrickson, 1894), P. 299
[2] Gordon Keddie, The Practical Christian, James simply explained, (Darlington, Evangelical Press, 1989), p. 50
[3] Anthony. Selvaggio, The 24/7 Christian,  (Darlington, Eng: EP, 2008), p.91
[4] Alec. Motyer, BST The Message of James, (Leicester, England, IVP, 1985), pp.56
[5] Gordon Keddie, The Practical Christian, James simply explained, (Darlington, Evangelical Press, 1989), p. 56
[6] Daniel Whittle
[7] D. Moo, The Letter of James, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000), P. 79
[8] Daniel Dorian, James, ……p. 42
[9] Matthew Henry, Commentary On The Whole Bible, (Peabody, MA. Hendrickson Publishers, 1991), p. 1934

Monday, March 14, 2016

Embrace Eternal Perspectives

James 1:9-12     
Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

James by the authority of God, has already to us that joy ought to be the normal experience of every Christian regardless of his earthly circumstances. This joy is informed by the unchanging character of the goodness of God. Some of you have been in the Prosperity Gospel[1] circles long enough. So you may have imbibed their common philosophy that material prosperity and happiness sleep on the same bed with a Christian always. They also confidently assert that poverty and misery are Siamese twins, which a believer, who is a child of God must never have. That is, it is not the will of God for his children to suffer sickness or poverty. They must always be healthy, wealthy and prosperous here on earth. Is this true? This letter shows that it is in will and purpose of God to send trials our way so that we may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing (v.4). As if this is not enough, James tells us again that he is blessed who goes through trials steadfastly, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised those who love Him (v.12).
Undoubtedly, trials of life come in sorts of colour, manner and shape. They are various kinds of trials (v.2). James in this passage, identifies economic status as one of the gates that trials come to us. There are those who are poor materially. There are those who are rich materially. He gives both the exhortation, ‘boast in his…’ different circumstance. The point is that these outward economic circumstances are temporary, and could be trials. So he gives us two opposite life circumstances (vv. 9-11). In these two cases, he instructs them to act in the opposite, what we call paradox. He also has one common circumstance of remaining steadfast under trial (v.12).
1)     Poor brother is eternally rich (v.6)
Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation      
Pastor James, was a very caring pastor. He watched over the flock with a keen eye. So he did not want poverty-stricken Christians, who were part of the flock that he had charge over, whom he fondly refers to as brothers, to think of themselves as second-rate or unimportant in the church. Believers are to interpret their present circumstances as if they were already residing in glory.[2] Not by wishing them away, but by looking at them as the highway leading to glory.
You can imagine how one would feel, with the economic pressures of life, with no steady income. One is not sure of one meal in a day. There is only a pair of threadbare clothes; living in a slum. One is scared of landlord and of debtors. One is unable to face the children because of the struggles. In every sense, the sense of human dignity is faded.
Who wants to face his children in the evening without food for them? It is not interesting to explain to the children why you cannot pay school fees. Or one is unable to afford medication for his wife – it is not interesting to see her writhing in pain. This is real life in the third world country we live in. No wonder impostor preachers have been born in their scores to deceive people into utopia. This poor state, is not any worse than the situation of persecuted Christians, who were destitute in every sense – some were homeless, with no means of livelihood. The people James wrote to, went through terrible circumstances as they faced the sword all the day long, lost their property, and were killed because of their faith.
We know that because of the persecution of Christian Jews in the first century, many were left impoverished. Because they were economically low, they were low in the eyes of the world and, no doubt, in most instances low in their own eyes. Their poverty produced lowliness of mind.[3] Like the 10 of the 12 spies who were sent by Moses to Canaan, it is too easy to seem to oneself like grasshoppers and this mindset communicates that one would appear to others in the same manner. Therefore, James, just like Joshua and Caleb, presents a very balanced and Biblical view of things from an eternal perspective.
James knew this too well and so he encourages them to glory or take pride in their exalted position of being brothers, that is, being children of God! This privileged position is higher than that of the angels. So high it is that Peter tells us that believers are beneficiaries of such great divine love that the angels long to look (1 Peter 1:12). God has given us His Son and His Spirit and made us His heirs and co-heirs with Christ in glory (Romans 8:17). This is the most exalted position, the world cannot take us higher. And God has brought us to the highest point of being His children.
Yet remember that, no matter how detested we are in this world, no matter how low and despicable we appear to be, we actually enjoy the highest of all privileges, namely being part of the family of God.[4] You belong to Christ! So do your circumstances, for they are within the orbit of His plan for your ultimate good, your full salvation.[5]
The paradox of grace is exhibited in the most striking form. Amid the depressing influences of poverty, the Christian is to keep his eye fixed on his real dignity, and glory in it. His present low position is merely in external things, and consequently temporary, and is appointed him because his heavenly Father sees poverty to be needful for the good of his soul; his dignity belongs to the man himself, considered apart from surroundings, and is thus unending, like himself.[6]
2)     Rich Brother is eternally humble (v.10)
… and the rich in his humiliation. We must first acknowledge that grace and wealth are not strange bedfellows. Wasn’t Abraham the father of faith rich in silver and gold? Wasn’t David, a man after God’s own heart, a wealthy king? What about Job before and after his affliction, wasn’t he rich in wealth and grace? What about Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, and John Mark’s family, and Dorcas, and Lydia, and Cornelius, and Priscilla and Aquila and many others? Were they not rich both in the earthly wealth and in the earthly treasure?
While it is difficult for the rich to enter the Kingdom, it is not impossible. While it is true that that those who desire to be rich in this  life fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction, the rich are not beyond the reach of grace. But they must not love money, for if they do, they will get into all kinds of evils, and perhaps wander away from the faith and pierce themselves with many pangs. They must know that godliness with contentment is great gain.
It is not obvious in this passage that if the person who is rich is a Christian or a non-Christian. At the time when James was writing, the rich people were usually seen as proud, persecutors, exploiting the poor, and so uncaring as they lived in luxurious lifestyle at the expense of the majority poor, and so would not be associated with the Christian faith. Yet we know that some rich people like Zacchaeus, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus among others had come to faith.
But weighing all the factors from the context, and the Greek construction, there are reason to believe that this was a rich brother who was being exhorted along with the poor brother to act in accordance to the Biblical perspectives, rather than the financial value of his accounts. This rich man could only be a non-believer if James was speaking ironically. Therefore, I go a long with Douglas Moo and many other good commentators, who say,
While the evidence does not all point in the same direction, we think that the balance shifts toward the view that James in these verses addresses two Christians, a poor one and a rich one. He exhorts each of them to look toward their spiritual identity as the measure of their ultimate significance. To the poor believer, tempted to feel insignificant and powerless because the world judges a person on the basis of money and status, James says: take pride in your exalted status in the spiritual realm as one seated in the heavenlies with Jesus Christ himself. To the rich believer, tempted to think too much of himself because the world holds him in high position – things that are doomed all too soon to fade away forever – but, paradoxically, in your humble status as a person who identifies with one who was “despised and rejected” by the world. The point of this passage is, then, that Christian must always evaluate themselves by spiritual and not material standards. Maintaining such a perspective in a world that so insistently confronts us with a very different standard of measurement is not easy. But if the church is to be the kind of “countercultural” society that Jesus intended to be, establishing and propagating such a perspective is essential.[7] (Emphasis mine)
The rich Christian is in a very slippery and precarious position. He is not careful, he could stop to depend on His Saviour and depend on His wealth. He is reminded that life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. Reading the newspapers, you see wealthy people who have recently died. They left everything behind, including their children and possession. Their grave clothes do not need to have pockets! To put what?
Therefore, this brother and those of you who fall under this category of financial ladder are warned by their Saviour to think of two things that bring him to a humble position:
a)      The brevity of life
… like a flower of the grass he will pass away. No man shall live more than 130 years. The lifespan is basically 70 years and it could come earlier or later, but no one will be forgotten. The problem is that while people know this, they still conduct themselves in a manner that ignores this fact. Life is brief. Death is coming. Grave is ready for you, wouldn’t you be ready for it? Be ready by putting on an eternal perspective. As a flower fades before the scorching heat or wind of Palestine, so shall the rich man pass away in death. There is no doubt that just as the flowers of the field are attractive to look at so is the riches of this world. We are told by Dr. Luke that, “…the poor man died… the rich man also died” (Luke 16:22) (Emphasis mine). Yes there is a time to be born and a time to die, for the poor and the rich alike. Certainly he will pass away.
b)     The temporary nature of possessions
The rich die and their wealth are also fleeting. As a flower fades before the heat of the scorching sun, so shall the rich man fade away in his pursuits. His possessions, his projects, his counsels, and his managements for this world, are called his pursuits or business. For this reason let him that is rich rejoice, not so much in the providence of God, that made him rich while in a temporary earth, but in the grace of God in the glory of eternity. This ought to make and keep him humble. He must be humiliated in that insurance cannot prevent accidents or disease and death. These occur to the rich as well as to the poor. For the rich also cry!
Therefore, a Christian who is rich must be careful so that his joy must not come from the possession like the rich fool who thought that because his barns were full, his joy was complete. For that same day God removed him from enjoying his wealth and others were left to plunder his labour.
We all should remember that we are not immune to the dangers of wealth. The power of material prosperity must not be underestimated. Materialism is charming and seductive. The riches of this world have such a power to allure and entice us to fix our eyes on the temporal instead of the eternal. The ogre called idolatry does not call itself Monster Idolatry, it calls itself Miss Comfort. The comforts of this life are attractive to the flesh, but the spiritual eye will know when in Vanity Fair.
Yet, we must bear in mind that even when one has overflowing bank accounts, and platinum medical and insurance covers, this does not guarantee happiness or heaven. Robert Jones’s rightly observes on his meditations on Isaiah 40:6
The primary application to be drawn from these scripture references comparing man to grass, and his glory to a flower of the field is the forcible reminder of the brevity of his life, and the perishing nature of his greatest attainments upon earth.[8]
3)     Blessed brother under trials (v.12)
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
Both the rich and the poor of verses 9 and 10 could be included in this category. They are blessed if they remain steadfast under the weight of the unique trials of their lives. What does it mean that they are blessed? This word, makariotj, means more than happy, for it means supremely fulfilled and satisfied in the enrichment and endowment of the Lord. It is the word the Lord employed in the beatitudes. That is, God is at work in all this business of trial and persistent endurance, God is imparting blessing all the while as guiding us toward the great, ultimate blessing of approval.[9]
The blessed man endures suffering with patience and faithfulness. Afflictions must not make us miserable, if it is not our own fault, and if it is our fault we should repent. This is because we know that a blessing may come from them, and we may be blessed in them. Trials upon a godly man will make him even more godly and faithful. Trials will be the hedge upon the narrow way leading to the Celestial City where he will receive the crown of life when he is approved.
One can only be approved when he has stood the test of love. For God has promised to those who love him. Love for God with the whole of soul, heart, mind and strength even when under the intensity and immensity of trials of life is the basis of approval. Faith works in love. Trials will usually strengthen love for God for a believer, and not by any means weaken it. Our enduring temptations must be from a principle of love to God and to our Lord Jesus Christ, otherwise we are not interested in this gracious promise. Every soul that truly loves God shall have its trials in this world fully recompensed in that world above where love is made perfect.
This means that when his virtues and graces coming from a genuine, living and working faith are found to be true and of the highest worth, just as gold is purified by the fire then he will receive the garland from the Father. When his integrity is manifested, and all is approved of the great Judge as genuine, then the Lord will reward him accordingly.
To be approved of God is the great aim of a Christian in all his trials. This will be the standard of one’s blessedness at last, when he shall receive the crown of life. The tried Christian shall be a crowned one: and the crown he shall wear will be a crown of life. It will be life and bliss to him, and will last for ever. We only bear the cross for a while, but we shall wear the crown to eternity[10].

[1] The Word of Faith, or Health and Wealth Gospel
[2] Anthony. Selvaggio, The 24/7 Christian,  (Darlington, Eng: EP, 2008), p.78
[3] R. Kent Hughes, James: Faith That Works (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1991), p.35  
[4] Roger Ellsworth, Opening Up James, (Leominster, England, Day one Publications, 2009), p. 35
[5] Gordon Keddie, The Practical Christian, James simply explained, (Darlington, Evangelical Press, 1989), p. 42
[6] Robert. Johnstone, James, Geneva Bible Commentaries, (Edinburgh, Scotland, Banner of Truth Trust, 1871), p. 50-51
[7] D. Moo, The Letter of James, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000), P. 68-69
[8] Robert Jones, Let God be Magnified, Meditations from Isaiah 40, (Shoals, IN, Old Paths Tracts Society), p. 28
[9] Alec. Motyer, BST The Message of James, (Leicester, England, IVP, 1985), pp.48
[10] Matthew Henry, Commentary On The Whole Bible, (Peabody, MA. Hendrickson Publishers, 1991), p. 1934