I really enjoy the book of James and I think that it has a lot that we can take out of it and apply to our lives now. Not that the rest of the Bible doesn't but it just seems like I always get so much out of it and I really wanted to share what I got out of it with you so that maybe you could get something out of it as well. I also wanted to start incorporating more Bible verses and studies on them into my blog so I decided to start with the book of James. I hope you enjoy.
Here is the first chapter, and the first 12 verses in the NIV version.
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings, 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 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. 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. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. 9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 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.
We can start right with the first verse. So many times people just blow past the intro and want to jump right into the passage but look at what the first verse reads. The first thing that I notice is that it says servant of God. James doesn’t call himself an apostle or a superior writing to the lesser people, but he calls himself a servant. So right away you can see that he has a heart for God and that he is on this earth to serve other people but ultimately God. I have to admit right before I started writing this I blew over the first and second verses not really paying attention but looking for other things past that to focus on. But verse one is a key verse that has you already in your head setting the mind set and tone that James is going to use throughout the book. Later in the first verse he then goes on to address to who the letter is specifically meant for. In this case it is meant for the twelve tribes are scattered. I really like the choice of the word scattered as it shows how these people are dispersed throughout the land, and how they are separated but the message still applies to all of them. When we get to verse two, the into is over and we have now moved on to beginning the advice and encouragement of the body of the letter. When you read the verse you may be going, “Well how am I supposed to consider in pure joy when I am going through trials? How can I be joyful during a trial in my life?” And if you just stopped there and did not continue to read on to what he is saying that you would miss out on his meaning and on everything that is behind him saying that. In verse three James said “because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” Perseverance is sometimes hard to come by especially if you are like me and lack patience. I will admit it that I don’t have the most patients and if it doesn’t work the first or second time that you try it, well that means it will never work and time to move on. That is my mind set and I know that it isn’t right. But anyways, enough about me, back to the passage. It talks about how perseverance must finish making us complete, or not lacking anything. Making us complete is have a mutual relationship with God, and having found everything that he has wanted you to find. it is also developing character traits such as patience which I lack. You see, it is going to take a lot of perseverance to develop and completely be perseverance, or not lacking anything. if you think about it, no one will ever be completely mature in the Lord and have complete spiritual maturity by God’s standards except for God himself, but that you should strive to become and now God as well as you can and to be growing in your spiritual life. The fifth verse goes on to say that if anyone lacks wisdom he should ask God for it and it will be given to him. Don’t we all lack wisdom? Don’t we all have decisions that we are not quite sure on how to make? He goes on and reminds us that our God is a generous God who wants to pour out his love and blessings on us and bless us. He reminds us that if we are one of God’s children that he finds no fault, no fault no matter what, with us. The next verse though is one that I imagine people get tripped up on; not to doubt that it would be given to you. This could trip you up either way as you could have doubt and not be sure if God is really going to give it to you or maybe He didn’t answer a silent prayer the way that you wanted him to, and so you doubt his sincerity and whether he really will give it to you. Maybe you are on the other side and you see someone ask for something, such as wisdom, and it is not given to them or maybe it is not perceived to have been given to them and you immediately turn to this verse and say well there was doubt, that is why God did not give them this or answer there prayer in the way that they wanted. We have to imagine for a second God. Now some people see him as a vending machine that you can go up to slip in a prayer and he will give you whatever you just asked for. This is not how God works at all! He is not something that you can use to further yourself in life and to try and make your own life better. He will answer your prayer according to his plan, and purpose and even if it doesn’t seem right to you his plan is so much bigger and so much better and so much more complex that you and I could never even imagine it. James goes on to talk about the doubter and the doubter’s relationship with God. He says that he is like the waves tossing and changing in the ocean. He also says that this man’s mind is troubled and is unstable in everything he does and that he does not believe that God will really give his what God wants to give him and that he is just asking because the Bible says to and he really doesn’t plan on God giving him anything. I pray that you and I would not be like that but that we would know that our God is great and that all we have to do is ask and God will give to us. The last part of this short passage talks about the humble man and the boastful man. Now the word boastful man doesn’t come up but he is talking about rich and prideful. He compares the prideful man to a wild flower that the sun scorches and is gone. Have you ever walked or seen a picture of a field of wildflowers? I am not talking about something that has one here or there but a field that has them just littered throughout. Can you imagine that one right in the middle of a pack dies and falls to the ground. Are you going to notice? Are you going to care? No because that one was just like the others and you will probably never notice. The rich and proud on earth are high but they take a low position in God’s mind as they will never enter his kingdom because they had so much and did not think that they needed him. However, the humble are low in life but have a high position with their Father in heaven who is proud of the way that they lived their life on the earth to glorify and honor him.
So I guess there are three underlying questions:
1: Are you persevering through trials to grow closer to God and are you finding joy in your tirals?
2: Are you a doubter, on that doesn’t believe God will give unto his children, in either example I gave?
3: Which man would you associate yourself with and be honest, the rich man who has everything but then quickly fades, or the humble man that will get his reward in heaven?