God’s Faithful Word of Wisdom
James 1:1-27: Among the New Testament books, the letter of James is considered a type of wisdom literature inasmuch as it contains practical advice on how people are to live. It begins like a letter written to Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire (1:1), but its primary focus is to encourage moral behavior. In this first chapter, the writer admonishes his readers to ask God for wisdom, remain faithful when faced with trials, control anger, obey God, and control their tongues.
Today's Scripture: James 1:22
Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to his word; instead, put it into practice.
1 From James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ:
Greetings to all God's people scattered over the whole world.
Faith and Wisdom
2 My friends, consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way,3for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure.4Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.5 But if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all.6But when you pray, you must believe and not doubt at all. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is driven and blown about by the wind.7-8If you are like that, unable to make up your mind and undecided in all you do, you must not think that you will receive anything from the Lord.
Poverty and Riches
9Those Christians who are poor must be glad when God lifts them up,10 and the rich Christians must be glad when God brings them down. For the rich will pass away like the flower of a wild plant.11The sun rises with its blazing heat and burns the plant; its flower falls off, and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way the rich will be destroyed while they go about their business.
Testing and Tempting
12Happy are those who remain faithful under trials, because when they succeed in passing such a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love him.13 If we are tempted by such trials, we must not say, “This temptation comes from God.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one.14But we are tempted when we are drawn away and trapped by our own evil desires.15Then our evil desires conceive and give birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
16Do not be deceived, my dear friends!17Every good gift and every perfect present comes from heaven; it comes down from God, the Creator of the heavenly lights, who does not change or cause darkness by turning.18By his own will he brought us into being through the word of truth, so that we should have first place among all his creatures.
Hearing and Doing
19 Remember this, my dear friends! Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry.20Human anger does not achieve God's righteous purpose.21So get rid of every filthy habit and all wicked conduct. Submit to God and accept the word that he plants in your hearts, which is able to save you.
22Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to his word; instead, put it into practice.23If you listen to the word, but do not put it into practice you are like people who look in a mirror and see themselves as they are.24They take a good look at themselves and then go away and at once forget what they look like.25But if you look closely into the perfect law that sets people free, and keep on paying attention to it and do not simply listen and then forget it, but put it into practice—you will be blessed by God in what you do.
26Do any of you think you are religious? If you do not control your tongue, your religion is worthless and you deceive yourself.27What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world.
Why does James tell his readers that they should consider themselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come their way (verse 2)? What trials have you faced in your life? How did you handle them? Do you find James’ advice comforting? Why or why not? Why does he encourage his readers to pray for wisdom (verse 5)? Do you find any of the advice James gives to be relevant for your life today?
Sovereign God, teach me to seek wisdom from you. Guide my actions this day and keep me strong in faith when facing trials and temptations, so that I am not corrupted by the world. Teach me to submit to you and to accept the word you are planting in my heart today. Amen.
Widows and orphans
James 2:1-26: James warns against prejudice and exhorts his readers to demonstrate their faith by their actions.