- This letter was written by James; head of the church in Jerusalem and the half brother of Jesus.
- James was writing to Jewish believers scattered throughout the known world.
- Trials of various kinds should be accepted with pure joy.
- We accept them with pure joy because these trials test our faith, which develops perseverance.
- Perseverance must finish its work in order for us to be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
- Without trials in this life, I would not experience the needed perseverance that will bring me to completion.
- If anyone lacks wisdom, they can ask God who will give generously to all without finding fault.
- But when we ask for wisdom, we cannot ask with doubt, for then we are like a wave in the ocean tossed and ripped by the wind.
- When we pray with doubt, we should not expect to receive what we ask for because we do it with a double-mind, being unstable in everything we do because of our uncertainty and lack of faith in God.
- A person who is in low, “humble”, circumstances should take pride in his high position.
- A person who is rich person should take pride in his low position, because he will soon pass away like a wild flower.
- When the sun rises with scorching heat, flowers wither and their blossoms fall to the ground, losing their beauty.
- In the same way, the rich man is here today and gone tomorrow.
- People who persevere under trial are blessed, for when they have withstood the trial, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
- God cannot be tempted by evil, neither does He tempt us. Therefore we should never claim that God is the one who is tempting us.
- Temptation arises from our own evil desires, which drag us away and entice us. This desire is conceived and gives birth to sin. Once sin is fully grown it gives birth to death.
- Instead of blaming God for temptation, we should recognize that it is every good and perfect gift that comes from God; and He will never change like the uncertainty of shifting shadows.
- We were given birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created.
- Everyone should be slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to become angry. Because man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires for us.
- If we desire the righteous life, we should get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and instead choose to humbly accept the word that has been planted within us, which can save us.
- If we desire the righteous life, we must not just listen to the word, we must do what it says. To merely listen would be to deceive ourselves thinking we’re good.
- Anyone who listens without action is like someone who looks in a mirror, goes away, and immediately forgets what he looks like.
- We should not be like that, but like someone who intently looks at the perfect law, the new covenant through Christ by which we have freedom, and continue to live like that. If we listen to the word and do what it says, we will be blessed in what we do.
- If anyone considers himself religious but does not control the way he uses his words, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
- The pure and faultless religion that God accepts is to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
There is so much to unpack in this chapter. It’s as if every couple of verses there is a new concept or something that I need to incorporate into my life! It’s all good, and I need to do it all. But I want to focus in on the last line of the chapter. For those with a compassionate heart, it can be easy to serve those in need. But for everyone, it is hard to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
As I was reading that line, I had a picture in my head of swimming in the ocean. No matter how hard I try, I always end up getting salt water in my mouth. Whether I’m hit by a wave and end up drinking it or if it’s just dripping all over and ends up seeping in the corners of my mouth, I can’t escape the salt water getting in! Now I pictured a polluted ocean, a line of oil and trash on the surface and all kinds of nasty stuff. While I’m playing in this ocean, I’m trying not to be polluted. But a wave hits me and I open my mouth or it’s dripping all over me and it seeps in.
In the same way, I am surrounded by the pollution of this world. It is all over me, trying to seep in any way it can. The selfish attitudes, the harsh words, the desire for more, the excuses, the irresponsibility; all these things permeate our culture and try to worm their way into my life. But I am called to view these trials, the ongoing struggle of every day life, with pure joy, knowing that I can stand before God, pure and faultless, knowing I did my best to keep myself from being polluted by the world.
Holy Spirit, it is all well and good to say, “I’m just not going to let the world influence me!”, but I have already been polluted and I need your help to continue walking in truth. Thank you for giving me a New Creation Identity, that what has been polluted is dead and gone. You see me through the purity and holiness of Jesus Christ. Thank you for your continual process in transforming me more into the likeness of Christ. When I face trials, would you help me to have an attitude of pure joy, like that of Jesus. Amen.
Posted on Thu, October 15, 2015
by Brian Landers