1 James, a
servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings
James. Tradition says this was James,
the Lord's brother. He first doubted Jesus, which might explain
why he focuses on doubt in this letter. Later, he was leader of
the church (Acts 15:12-21, Gal 1:19).
emphasizes action rather than doctrine.
2 Consider it pure joy, my
brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
pure joy. Impure joy is happiness.
Happiness is based on what his "happening" to you. Joy is based
on what has happened "in you." Regardless of trials you can have
Trials. adversities, difficulties.
you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
testing. James encourages the readers
to see trials as testing that we must pass in order to receive
promotion. We do not rejoice because of the trials, but rather,
in their possible results.
develops perseverance. Perseverance
can only be developed through trials. Faith comes by hearing the
Word, but perseverance comes when the Word in you is tested.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and
complete, not lacking anything.
finish its work. Trials, in and of
themselves, do not work to produce good character; only
perseverance can produce godly character.
lacking anything. Not only will
perseverance produce maturity, but it will also cause the trials
to be removed.
5 If any of
you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all
without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
lacks wisdom. Wisdom is the key to
walking in perseverance. You need to know what you need to learn
while being tested.
gives generously to all without finding fault.
Four attributes of God's giving nature: 1. gives is
present tense participle, which means he is continually giving.
2. generously, gives more than can be received, 3. all,
no one can say that God has not given to them, 4. without
finding fault. Past mistakes will not stop God from giving.
6 But when
he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is
like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
must believe and not doubt. This is
the fine print in God's promises to bless beyond measure. No
room for doubt.
who doubts is like a wave of the sea.
Wave is unsteady and is moved by the wind. Wind is a symbol of
trials. God's promises should keep you steady when trails comes.
7 That man
should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;
should not even be given any hope to receive from God. Strong
language meant to rebuke the doubter. James personally knew the
detrimental effects of doubt.
8 he is a
double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
double-minded. One side of the mind
says, Yes, I trust God and will obey Him; the other side says,
No, I cannot trust God and will not obey Him.
unstable in all he does. Doubt is not
just in the mind, but it manifest in action.
brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high
humble circumstances. Reference to
poor in world's goods, yet, he is not to focus on the little he
appears to have in the world; rather, he should focus on his
abundance inheritance that he has in Christ.
10 But the
one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because
he will pass away like a wild flower.
rich should take pride in his low position.
While he is rich in material goods, he ought not to allow his
station in the world to cause pride, because, in the end, both
the rich and poor receives salvation the same way, but humbling
themselves and repenting of the great debt of sins they owed
11 For the sun rises with
scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its
beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade
away even while he goes about his business.
rich man will fade away. A reference
to those wealthy who have not come to Christ.
12 Blessed is the man who
perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he
will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those
who love him.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial.
Blessings come only to those that are steadfastly holding onto
crown of life. While blessings in this
life come by standing in faith, the ultimate reward is outside
of this life.
love him. Ultimately, the sign that
you are persevering is that you maintain a great and growing
love for God.
tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot
be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
does he tempt anyone. While James does
encourage the believer to see his trials as tests, he doesn't
want the believers to misunderstand and think that the trials
comes from God. God cannot do evil.
14 but each
one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away
own evil desire. God is not
responsible for people's evil desires.
dragged away and enticed. While
people's evil desire is ultimately at fault, James also alludes
to another force dragging away and enticing people into sin.
Good picture is the original sin: serpent tempted, yet woman was
hungry for the forbidden fruit.
15 Then, after desire has
conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is
full-grown, gives birth to death.
desire has conceived. Just as a baby
is conceived in the womb, it is only a matter of time before
evil desire gives evidence of sin. Every sin begins first with
gives birth to sin. Reference to the
obvious action not simply thought.
full-grown, gives birth to death. Sin
can be repented before it grows to maturity. If not repented, it
leads to death (physical and spiritual).
16 Don't be
deceived, my dear brothers.
Don't be deceived. Perhaps one of the
great deceptions is to view bad as being good, and good as being
good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father
of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting
Every good and perfect gift. Some
gifts are good, but some are perfect.
coming down from the Father. First
time to mention God as Father. He takes good care of us as a
father takes care of his children. A message that God is Father
to us helps us stay strong during trials.
18 He chose to give us birth
through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of
firstfruits of all he created.
give us birth through the word of truth.
Reference to the new birth. The Word of God imparts the faith
for us to believe and become born again.
Firstfruits. Reference to the first
feast on Sunday, after Passover. Jesus resurrected on
19 My dear
brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen,
slow to speak and slow to become angry,
take note of this. He is trying to
underscore the importance of what he is about to say.
quick to listen. Believers are best
when they are quick to listen to God.
slow to speak. Words must be thought
out carefully before spoken. It might help to sit on your words
for a while.
slow to become angry. Don't be quick
to act on your anger, but think deeply about why you are angry.
Personal hurts is never a good reason to become angry. Hurt when
the Word corrects you.
20 for man's
anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
man's anger. Man's anger is always
selfish and is about his own personal injury caused by others.
Righteous anger is focused only on God's righteousness. Jesus
got angry and drove out the money changers; yet He had nothing
personal to gain in driving out the money changers.
21 Therefore, get rid of all
moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept
the word planted in you, which can save you.
moral filth. Immorality leads to a
filthy, dirty lifestyle.
prevalent. Simply because immorality
is popular is no excuse to indulge in it.
humbly accept the word. Pride often
keeps us from being teachable concerning hearing and obeying
you. Just as evil desire is a seed planted in the womb to bring
forth sin, God has an alternative to evil desire--that is His
save you. Not a reference to being
born again, since he already said they were given birth, but
rather a reference to living out the saved life through good
22 Do not
merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it
not merely listen to the word.
Believers customarily met to hear the Word preached, as they do
today, but hearing it is not the same as doing it. Of course,
you cannot do the Word without first hearing it, just as you
cannot give birth to a baby without it first being conceived.
deceive yourselves. Very often
believers think because they went to church and heard the sermon
that they were pleasing God. God wants you to do what is says.
who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a
man who looks at his face in a mirror
Mirror. A mirror is to point out to
the one looking into the mirror how he should look. Comb his
hair, fix a blemish. God's word points out the areas in our
lives that we need to fix.
after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what
he looks like.
forgets what he looks like. James uses
humor to make his point. No one forgets.
25 But the man who looks intently
into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do
this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will
be blessed in what he does.
looks intently. Here is the real
problem. There are those who casually hear the Word and those
that serious listen to the Word. It starts with the attitude.
that gives freedom. James saw the
Scriptures as the Law of Freedom. Perhaps it was a reference to
those people who thought that to be free from the Mosaic Law was
to be free from the moral laws given in scriptures.
will be blessed in what he does. It is
doing the Word that brings the blessings.
26 If anyone
considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein
on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is
considers himself religious. Religious
means pious. It always had a good connotation in those times.
Today, the word has gone out of vogue as always a positive word.
Perhaps an alternative word might be "good Christian."
tight rein on his tongue. A picture of
a horse that has a tight reign to keep it from going where it
wants to go. Later, James will come back to that theme.
religion is worthless. A believer can
succeed at every point, but if he speaks wrong, then everything
he has done will be ruined.
27 Religion that God our Father
accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and
widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted
by the world.
Religion that God our Father accepts.
God does not accept every religion or even the religion of
Christianity if it fails to live up to the moral standards of
look after orphans and widows in their distress.
There was no real help that society provided for these two
classes. Orphans and widows are not to be blamed for their