Welcome back!  This week we’re diving in to James Chapter 1.

So how this will work is like this:

1.  Read the Chapter
2.  Read my discussion
3.  Start commenting in the comments and every one can reply or chime in!

Remember from last week that we talked about the fact that James didn’t write his letter to a particular group of people, but to the body of believers in general.  He was giving practical advice on being a Christian.  So there are several areas he covers as we go through the book.

Let’s begin with the first section of Chapter1:1-18 which covers Trials and Temptations:

James 1:1-18 – NIV

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:

Greetings.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

He just goes straight for the carotid, doesn’t he?  Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kindsthat statement doesn’t play.  The word “joy” in this sentence is from the Greek word chara, which is root of charis (grace) and eucharisto (thanksgiving).

Can you do that?

Be joyful in trials?

Be thankful in trials?

Full of grace in trials?

I know, right?!

But that’s exactly what James is saying.  Why?  Well look on to the next part of that section:

because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

When we go through hardships, when we face difficult situations,  we show who we really are, don’t we?  I mean, we really show the depth of our character – and sometimes we handle things well and sometimes we don’t.  We’re human.  But God wants to refine us and draw us more into who He is.

He uses trials to develop our perseverance (a patient enduring, sustaining) so that we mature in Him and lack nothing.

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they 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 will fade away even while they go about their business.

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Verses 9-11 are basically reminding us that money – how much you have – doesn’t matter in the eyes of God.  It’s temporal – fleeting – I love how The Message says it:

 9-11When down-and-outers get a break, cheer! And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer! Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it. You know that as soon as the sun rises, pouring down its scorching heat, the flower withers. Its petals wilt and, before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem. Well, that’s a picture of the “prosperous life.” At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration, it fades away to nothing.

12Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.

That really paints a clear picture, doesn’t it?  The reward we are looking for is life – nothing temporal.

Verses 13-15 really hit home on the subject of being tempted.  The Bible is very clear that God does not tempt us.  It also very clear that we are drawn away because of our own lust and tempted.  We can go all the way back to the lovely Garden of Eden for a clear picture of who zoomed who there (Yes, that old song “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” is now officially playing in my head.  You’re welcome.).  Eve was drawn away and enticed by her own desire (yes, the enemy was calling her out, but she gave in) to be “like God.”

We love to play the blame game.  Eve did it.  Adam did it.  Cain did it. Moses did it.  David did it.  The disciples did it.  I’ve done it.  And yeah,  you have too.  But being tempted and falling to it’s entrapment does not give you an excuse to lay blame.

You take responsibility.

You confess your wrongs.

You ask God’s forgiveness.

Verses 17-18 remind us that God gives us good and perfect gifts and He never changes.  Enough said.

Finishing up Chapter 1 is verses 19-27 – let’s read:

 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 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.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 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.

Well let’s be honest:  there’s not much ‘splainin to do for verses 19-20.  James just tells us straight up to be

quick to listen

slow to speak

slow to anger

And we could end the study with that, couldn’t we?  It’s a hard thing.  But very important nonetheless.

Then he hits you with another practical application to the Christian life:

be a doer, not just a hearer of the Word

Why does he say that?  Well the rest of that section explains it:  If you are a hearer only, then when you are not “listening” to the Word you’ll forget about it when you walk away.  But if you are a “doer” then you’ll take to heart what you’ve learned and apply it to your life/walk.  That’s important, yes?  So put into action what you have learned – don’t just ponder it.

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 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.

We’ll go more into taming the tongue in Chapter 3, so we won’t get too detailed here.  But suffice it to say we all can learn to control our tongues more than we currently do.  There is always the propensity to let loose when we are angry, hurt, frustrated, or even disappointed.

James tells us two things in this last verse: help the widows and orphans and don’t be controlled by the world’s value system, but by Christ’s.

During the 1st Century when husbands died and left wives and children, if they never remarried or a family member didn’t step in, they basically had to resort to begging or depending on handouts in order to survive.  So James was reminding the church as a body of believers that they should take care of those who needed help because that is what loving others is about.

Being in an intimate relationship with Jesus will guard us from the world’s value system and help protect us from taking on the morals and worldviews of society around us.  When we are in an intimate relationship with Jesus, we will guard our tongues more, help others who can’t help themselves and be doers of His Word.

That’s really what it all boils down to, don’t you think?  Having an intimate relationship with Christ.

So let’s chat.

1.  What part of this chapter really impacted you this week?
2.  Is there a specific passage that you are having a hard time processing?
3.  Do you feel that you are more of a hearer or a doer?  (Tough one to answer, eh?)
Leave a comment with your answers or questions and we’ll start a discussion!

 

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Thanks for sharing!
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