James 1

James 1

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Greeting

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:

Greetings.

Testing of Your Faith

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 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, lacking in nothing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

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. 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.

Hearing and Doing the Word

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

(ESV)


James 1 Commentary

by Hank Workman

Talk is cheap. Inundated with promises everywhere we look from commercials to presidential candidates it’s easy to make or hear promises that give hope toward something changing when they’re just words. There’s no real trusted outcome or action behind them. Sadly this is found within the church or among Believers as well.

We have heard the “Christianese” and spiritual lingo for years. We’ve embraced these phrases that tumble out of our mouths more than the actions we put behind them. Too many times we call for people to trust God and yet we ourselves go on living our life like we personally don’t. We may have all the right phrases and answers but we contradict these by our lives.

The proof and reality of our faith is a changed life.

James was the brother of Jesus. He was the leader of the church in Acts. After Stephen was martyred the persecution was amped up and the Believers scattered. That persecution followed them. This letter was written about 49 AD to encourage all to stand firm in their faith and endure the many assaults they faced. Truly, James is chock full of amazing statements chapter after chapter, verse after verse. He is practical in his godly encouragement and also blunt and direct. There are gems hidden everywhere of what it means to be a true Follower of Jesus. There is no stone left unturned.

In this first chapter he challenges his readers with the thought that although life is unfair, God is faithful. But along with this, he lays out statement after statement that challenges people. It is to remain true and become a doer of the Word of God, not just one who hears it. And by being a doer, we are to live that difference before all humankind.

In the skeptical world we live in it’s time to put our money where our mouth is. Let us boldly live our faith.


James 1 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

There are so many believers I talk with who tell me that their favorite book is James. It makes sense. The book structure is written with direct language and plain explanations. James comes across as a fiery, in-your-face pastor who gets right to the heart of the matter without mincing words. He isn’t particularly concerned about deep intellectual persuasion, but practical and personal application. If you like people who give you the truth without any sugar-coating, James is your book!

With that being said, the man of James is also somewhat mysterious to us. Though he was Jesus’ brother, he would initially not believe in Him.

For not even His brothers were believing in Him.

John 7:5 NASB

At some point, after he came to the faith, he was established as a foundational leader in the church. In fact, in Galatians, Paul calls him a “pillar.”

and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars,

Galatians 2:9a NASB

James as a leader is viewed as lesser in comparison to Peter or Paul. However, it’s worthy to consider that at the Jerusalem conference in Acts 15, it was not Peter or Paul who gave the most powerful speech, but rather, James. It was typically the custom to reserve the final speech for the most influential leader, and in this case, that spot was reserved for James.

In Chapter 1, James comes out firing. His opening statement is enough to make a lukewarm Christian take notice.

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials,  3  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

James 1:2-3 HCSB

The word translated endurance is the Greek word ‘hupomone.’ Other translations use the words patience, perseverance, and steadfastness. It is a unique trait. A helpful way of understanding what James is describing is to consider sticking with something long enough to see pain turn into opportunity. It’s not just waiting things out. Hupomone means actively moving forward through pain and suffering patiently and expectantly to find the treasure hidden inside. Uhhh… easier said than done right?

I am slowly learning what this means. I have realized that when I am put under stress and suffering I tend to “numb” myself with mindless activities just to get through the day. When I get anxious, I will turn on the TV instead of praying. I will eat comfort food to make me feel better. Some people shop. Others turn to addictive behaviors. James, like always, challenges this type of reaction in the very next verse.

But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

James 1:4 HCSB

What I’ve come to realize is that ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away. Numbing my mind will only help in the short term, but more importantly, it will rob me of my opportunity to mature. Allowing my circumstances to overwhelm me to the point of pursuing Christ with patient endurance is what I need. Honestly, I still struggle with this… a lot.

I ask myself, why don’t I want to pray instead of numb my mind? Why don’t I want to worship or open my Bible instead of veg out? I think our culture contributes as well. In our sanitized lifestyle here in the West, we hardly know what it’s like to really suffer. We have so many other vices we can go to try and find comfort, and honestly, the world around us endorses them.

James accurately challenges the idea that trials are above God’s sovereignty. The truth is, people who are spiritually immature do not possess much hupomone. If they did, according to James’ definition, they would be mature! Help me, Father, to view the trials of this life as an opportunity to become an effective disciple of Jesus!

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