The Epistle of James always helps remind me of many of God’s wonderful guidelines on how to live Godly in this sinful world. These tidbits can bring needed, though uncomfortable, conviction to the believer’s heart. That’s why some tend to shy away from it. I did that for a time myself. Each time I read this Book, God does a little something different in my heart. I will attempt, over the next however long the Spirit leads, to share what He shows me.
First, let us consider and understand who James was. He was the half-brother of Jesus and he did not accept Christ as Saviour until after Jesus rose again. (I have often considered the heartache Jesus must have felt when He began His ministry and many of His family members disowned Him for His claims of Christ-hood. But that is for another time.) James did become an elder of the church in Jerusalem and he was respected as a leader among and Council member of the early churches in Jerusalem – Acts 15:6-21. James may possibly be the first New Testament book to be written.
This Epistle offers words of encouragement to us as we try to be firm in our Christian faith while we are persecuted for it. He urges us to focus on the victory that we will attain through what Jesus did. James also provides practical advice to unite all believers so that our fellowship will not be threatened by a lack of love, un-christlike speech, and bitter attitudes.
James teaches us to develop our faith by seeking wisdom from God. He reminds us that we have a choice: we can either give in to sin and suffer tragic consequences, or we can stand firm and therefore experience maturity of our faith by accepting the trials that will inevitably come. He maintains that our trials will produce patience and they will ultimately perfect and complete us as Christians. The prevalent theme of James is how to develop an enduring faith.
Today we will look at James 1:1-8
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. (James could have given himself more credit by making sure we know that he is Jesus’ brother here, or he could have even boasted about his leadership in the reputable Jerusalem church. Instead, he proudly referred to himself as a “servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Servant here means “bondservant,” like slaves who had been released from their obligation, but willingly remain servants to their masters out of respect for them. Likewise, James gladly offered his life to be bound to serving God, who gave him his freedom. He expressed his willingness to obey, laid aside his own rights to follow God’s will, and he pledged his loyalty to the Lord regardless of personal loss, humiliation, or danger.)
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; (Woah, hold on there you say! Count it all joy?! Yes, we are to count it all joy when several trials and temptations come, and sometimes several of them come at once. Remember when Paul and Silas were beaten and cast into stocks in the inner prison? What did they do? They sang praises to God and were set free. I have experienced the release and help that Jesus gives when we praise Him during tough times. There is nothing like to to build your faith.)
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (So all Christians learn as we grow that trials usually come so as to build our character and patience. This is never fun to experience, but if we praise God during the trials and ask Him what He is trying to teach us, He gives us the grace we need to grow as we move through them. I used to pray, God please give me patience. And then I would freak out because almost immediately something would happen that I really did not like, and as I whined about it to a more mature Christian, I would be reminded that every time we ask for patience we can expect a trial to develop that patience in us. Now I ask for grace as He teaches me the patience I still need.)
4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (As Christ-like women, we come to realize that we all have the potential and that it is our God-given destiny to continually be maturing in our walk with our Lord. This is a goal that only God can help us reach.)
5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (I am also understanding more the importance of growing in Godly wisdom. And all I have to do is ask for it. I used to think that the Scripture that says to ask and you shall receive was about asking for things and happiness, etc., but I have come to understand that while we do ask for those things, it is also speaking of wisdom in dealing with things that come up throughout our daily lives, as well as sharing the Lord with others and live out our faith.)
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. (When we ask, we are to ask believing, like it is already happening. Oh how many times do I ask the Lord for answers in fervent prayer and then take it back and fret about it and get myself into a tizzy. How silly that is. If I ask something of the Lord, I need to trust Him with it without doubt; if I take it back and start fretting about it then I am not trusting Him.)
8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (Double-minded=wavering in mind : undecided, vacillating. It is a human weakness and a characteristic of the hypocrite. One might say one thing while acting completely opposite, making one “unstable in all his ways.” God has no use for a double-minded person. Jesus spoke of double minded behaviour in Matthew 6:24 “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” We are to know what we believe and why we believe it, hopefully because God says it in His Word, and we are to stand firm in those Godly beliefs, not wavering.)