1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.
The author of this epistle is known as James the Great, not James the brother of John and the son of Zebedee. This is the James who had a major role in the leadership of the early Church. He presided over the council called to settle the dispute about the Gentile converts (Acts 15:13-29). He is considered by scholars to be the son of Joseph and Mary, a half-brother of Jesus Christ.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
We count it all joy, because He is working in us through our circumstances to strengthen our faith and grow us.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
I John 4:18 NKJV
When love has been perfected in us we’ll be able to look at trials without fear. Fear that we’re being punished, fear that we’ve done something wrong to bring this upon ourselves. Because as John says fear involves torment, but James says the trials we’re experiencing are designed to test our faith. To temper it as steel is hardened. So that when that perfect work is done we will fear no more.
Peter says it this way:
“by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
II Peter 1:4-8 NKJV
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.
Ask God for wisdom, He will not scold, and He will not hold back. Wisdom is what he told us to seek for in Proverbs 7.
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.
Do you really want wisdom? Asking in faith is asking in openness to the response. Not asking in confirmation of what we want Him to tell us.
7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is] a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
A double minded man is a man of two loyalties. Torn between one thing and another. Never able to stand firmly because the two surfaces he stands upon do not move together. In fact they move apart.
We cannot have mixed loyalties with God, with Jesus.
9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.
This is speaking of temptations and trials. It is just as much a temptation for the lowly man to be exalted as it is for the rich man to be brought low. Both should rejoice because God is sovereign and in control. Stay focused on Him.
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.
Such a telling statement… “so also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits”
Fades away… not an immediate collapse but a gradual slide into idolatry, unbelief.
In the midst… he never attains what it is he seeks. It’s always just out of reach.
his pursuits… his pursuits are his riches, the things of this world.
12 Blessed [is] the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
The testing and temptation we endure God uses to shape us, to reveal things about us. We’re to resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7).
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. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
Proverbs 7, the adulteress
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 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.
Gods character is good.
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.
He did not save us just to us fall away. Of His own will be brought us forth out of the darkness and into His light.
19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Lay aside our worldly responses and let God be God. He is in control and the work He is doing, He is doing to sanctify us, mature us and grow us.
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 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; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
The word won’t penetrate a hardened heart that is determined not to surrender to Him.
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.
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.
27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, [and] to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
The significance of the orphans and the widows is that these are both individuals who cannot pay back our offer us anything in return for our charity. We give simply because we should.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
1 John 2:15 ESV