Introduction: Since there were several “James” in the New Testament, it is not known for certain which “James” wrote this book. However, we can eliminate James, Jesus intimate disciple, because of his martyrdom by A.D. 44. Tradition points to the James that was Jesus brother. He became a devoted leader in the church in Jerusalem.
Throughout this entire epistle, James stresses that, “Faith without works is dead.” True faith must manifest itself in works of faith. Verbal faith is not enough, mental faith is insufficient. Faith must inspire action on our part. Faith must produce; it must be visible. My aunt used to say, “Put some legs on that prayer!”
Faith endures trials. Trials come and go, but a strong faith will face them head-on and develop endurance. Faith understands temptations. It will not allow us to slide into sin. Faith obeys the Word. It will not merely hear and not do. Faith produces doers. Faith demonstrates obedience and controls the tongue. Faith will produce submission to God. It provides us with the ability to resist the devil and draw near to God. Faith also stifles complaining.
Verse 1 – James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.
This letter is written to the Jewish Christians scattered abroad throughout Rome, Alexander, Cyprus, cities in Greece and Asia Minor.
Verse 2 – My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
Verse 3 – knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
This does not mean that we are to be “happy” because of a trial. It simply means not to consider it as punishment, a curse, or a calamity. Our outlook, when facing trials, is to be positive. Our trials can be opportunities to learn. Tough times can teach us perseverance. Not always finding the quickest way out, will cause patience while going through.
Verse 4 – But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Don’t let your patience be hindered by murmurings, complaining, or rebellion. When we do these things, we are in opposition to the will of God. Trials will develop our character to its fullest, complete.
Verse 5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
By wisdom, James is talking about the ability to make wise decisions in difficult times. Wisdom means practical discernment. It begins with respect to God, leads to right living and an increasing ability to tell right from wrong.
Verse 6 – But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
Verse 7 – For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord:
When we as Christians, go to the Lord in prayer, we must have confidence that God will answer according to His will. There is an expectation. We know He hears us! When He hears what we ask, He knows what is best for our lives. It may not happen the way we think, but He will work it out. Doubt has to go out the window. A person can hope for favor from God only as they put their confidence in Him. He sees the heart and He sees the motive behind the supplication. When we approach the throne of grace with the belief that it will be done, it will be done!
Verse 8 – he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Here is what I see a lot of times from a Christian that is waiting on an answer from God about a particular situation. They say they have prayed. Then to anyone who will listen, they complain about the situation. They will repeat it over and over and then finish up with, “Yeh, I know God’s in control.”
Poppy-cock! That person is controlling their situation with their mouth! You can’t believe that God will do it when you pray, and then destroy everything with your mouth. That is double-minded and they won’t receive anything.
Verse 9 – Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation,
Verse 10 – but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.
Verse 11 – For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.
To me, in these verses, we are to assume the “lowly man” that is poor in material wealth and the rich man who is without God, will one day lose all he values because of death. This is not to say we are never to acquire material things. However, I think the main point here is, no matter what state we live in, wealth or a desire to be rich, will amount to nothing in the end.
Some have the mindset that it’s a sin to be wealthy. They think God wants us all to be poo. That’s not true. If you are continually in lack, how are you ever going to help someone else? Rich or poor is a matter of the heart. If your heart is right before God, good works will come from what He has blessed you with.
Verse 12 – Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
God’s crown of life is not glory and honor here on earth, but the reward is eternal life – living with God forever. The way to win in this life, is to remain faithful to the One who saved us, even when temptation comes.
The Source of Temptations
Verse 13 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
Temptation comes from evil desires inside us, not from God. It begins with an evil thought and becomes sin when we dwell on those thoughts and then allow it to manifest into an action. We have to learn to stop that thought before it ever takes life. We know it’s wrong when we think about it.
Verse 14 – But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
Verse 15 – Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
People are tempted by many things and in all kinds of different areas. Temptations usually come by some desire for something or someone we do not possess. It is a lust, strong desire, knowing it would not be in one’s best interest to obtain it!
However, when that desire or lust, takes hold and is conceived, it gives way to sin and the penalty for sin is death.
Temptations come from the devil in areas that he knows we are weak. Sometimes that temptation is not so obvious. That is why it’s so important to know God’s will for our lives and His principles.
Verse 16 – Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
Verse 17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
God’s nature is unchanging and His promises are secure. The sense here is: God is the author of all good. Everything that is good, including the perfect gifts He gives, are all from Him. Darkness surrounds evil and light surrounds good. Choose good!
Verse 18 – Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
The idea is, the fact that we are “begotten to be His children and can be solely traced to His will. He purposed it, and it was done. We owe the beginning of our spiritual life to God.
Faith Obeys the Word
Verse 19 – Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
Verse 20 – for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
When others talk to you, do they feel as though what they are saying has any value to you, or do you dominate the conversation and don’t let them get a word in?
When someone gets angry because of a disappointment or a hurt from another, anger doesn’t produce anything good. Wrath and anger will never produce anything but regret. Righteousness will produce peace which pleases God.
I’ve said it before, but will say it again; Anger will fester and then turn into rage and then can turn into revenge or vengeance – an action, which then become s sin!
Verse 21 – Therefore, lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
The word filthiness is applied here to mean evil conduct considered as disgusting or offensive, loathsome. Receive meekness – have an open mind and heart to instruction of the truth – Word of God. God’s Word has the power to save our soul!
Verse 22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Does what you believe line up with your actions?
Verse 23 – For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
Verse 24 – for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
Verse 25 – But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
Plain and simple – Obey God and be blessed in all you do.
Verse 26 – If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.
We can do all the right actions that make us look religious, but if our speech doesn’t line up, the evidence we showed in works, is useless.
Verse 27 – Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this; to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself un-spotted from the world.
In the first century, orphans and widows had very little means of economic support. Unless a family member took them in, they would have to beg on the streets. By caring for these people, the church put God’s Word into practice.
We are not to be influenced or adapt the world’s way of thinking. Just because our government makes something a law, does not mean we as Christians have to agree with it, especially when it contradicts His word! The world system is based on money, power, and pleasure. True faith means nothing if we are contaminated with such values.