Have you ever read the book of James? There is so much good “stuff” in there. I know I have learned a lot from watching my siblings but I can’t even imagine being James. He definitely learned a lot though and I’m grateful that I have these scriptures to learn from too. If you have never read it, feel free to follow along with me as I go through each chapter and write about it.
Did you read it? Did it make you kind of shake in your boots? Welcome to James!
The chapter begins with, “Greetings!” as though he is about to sit down and have tea with us, commend us on a job well done and share a laugh or two. He doesn’t though, does he? Instead he gets right to the point. How are things? Good? Going well? No? That bad? Well don’t worry, be happy about that!
He tells us to consider it all joy when we encounter various trials because when we see that trial through, our faith produces endurance.
He’s right. A job worth doing is a job worth doing right. No pain, no gain. Think about a trial that you went through where you trusted that God had it under control, that you were faithful through, and think about the result. Can you honestly say that trial didn’t grow your faith?
“And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing!” This world where we yearn for immediate satisfaction in everything we do. We miss out on so much. We choose the easy path and because of that we do not learn to endure. We choose to walk instead of run, so we don’t ever get the chance to cross the finish line of a marathon. We choose to get a loan instead of saving our money but we miss out on the satisfaction of paying for it in cash. We choose in so many ways to take the easy road and when the bad things come…. we crumble. We wither….
And do you know why? James did.
We lack wisdom. Even though he tells us that if we want to have wisdom, God will give it to us generously and without reproach. We just need to ask so that we can learn, so that we can endure, so that we can grow in our faith and that the endurance will have its perfect result and in turn we would become perfect and complete. But we need to do it without doubt.
You cannot ask God to give you wisdom but doubt that you can learn. As a homeschool parent I can relate to this. When I teach my kids and they are open to learning we get so much accomplished. When they are excited to hear what I have to say, to open the books and sharpen the pencils the work is easy. But when they start off with, “I don’t know how to do this, then the work is hard, it’s very hard. So we need to ask with faith that he will give us the knowledge and the tools to grow.
If only James ended it here. We could give an effort, and do like so many Christians, and blame God when we didn’t get it right… He must have been testing us.
But James doesn’t end it there and he throws in the accountability that needs to be the supporting beams of our life! He tells us that when it gets hard and we want to throw in the towel because we cannot see the end, we cannot blame God because He doesn’t tempt anyone. He never put this in your path, that was us. By our own desires we are carried away.
Every good thing is given and every perfect gift comes from the Father with whom there is no variation or shifting shadows. Because He is the Alpha and the Omega.
So be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. Do not allow yourself to lose control because your anger is not righteous. There is no scenario that your anger will achieve the righteousness of God. So put it away.
And receive with humility, the words implanted that can save our souls.
Again, wouldn’t it be great if James just stopped here. You packed him up lunch for the road and sent him on his way? A loving hug, pat on the back, and blessings as he walked out the door like so many of us do?
But prove yourself, doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if any one of us just hears the word but it doesn’t cause us into action, then we have nothing. And this doesn’t mean to go get religion. James isn’t talking about filling church seats or doing a good deed. He is talking about visiting orphans and widows in their distress and maintaining yourself so that as you walk through a world neck deep in sin and disaster, that not a drop can touch you.
How far we may have come, yet how far do we still have to go to even become a speck on God’s plan?
Pray that God may show us what we need to do. Pray for me that I may allow the changes in my life so that I may be able to stand strong in the words of James.
Stay tuned for chapter 2!