James 1 — Greeting, Testing Your Faith, Hearing and Doing
James 2 — The Sin of Partiality, Faith Without Works is Dead
Thoughts about serving others
This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.
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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.
One Reply to “Nov 6 — James 1-2”
The NIV Study Bible provides some excellent introductory notes on James, important background before we dive into the rich text:
1. 1 Corinthians 15:7 — James was one of the select individuals Christ appeared to after his resurrection
2. Galatians 2:9 — Paul called him a “pillar” of the church
3 & 4. Galatians 1:10 & Acts 21:18 — Paul saw James in Jerusalem
5. Acts 12:17 — Peter tells his friends to tell James he was rescued from prison
6. Acts 15:13 — James was a leader in the important council of Jerusalem
7. James was martyred around AD 62, recorded by Josephus (Antiquities, 20.9.1)
James was a significant leader in the early church, no doubt his words were carefully written and read by those then as we now read through them. There have been times when I’ve read James 1:2, “Consider it pure joy” with a heavy heart. Yet when we are at our lowest points, our most difficult times, this is when these words should ring true. When know God has plans to prosper us, so if we believe this, then we must know that “trials of many kinds” will produce perseverance (1:2). We all want to be mature in Christ, but it seems that few are willing to allow perseverance to finish its work. The key is wisdom, the great gift of God. We must ask for wisdom, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt” (1:6). Lord, give me wisdom to lead your people and especially the people who do not yet know the fullness of your grace and mercy. I pray this pray believing you will grant me wisdom according to your plan and for your purposes here on earth. Do with your humble servant as you will today.
James decisively addresses temptation and clearly makes the point, “For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (1:13). On the contrary, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (1:17). I love the poetry in that verse, the shifting shadows. Shadows are formed by that which blocks the light, yet have no volume. They often exaggerate the person obstructing the light and are mistaken for something greater, even sinister. Shadows are fleeting, constantly changing. We are all familiar with shadows, so James paints this vivid picture in contrast to God, our Heavenly Father who does not change.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (1:22). This is the basis for the Rich Mullins song, “faith without works is like a song you can’t sing, it’s about as useless as a screen door on a submarine.” James makes it clear, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?” (2:14). James provides two well-known examples: Abraham and Rahab. The men in the audience should relate to one and perhaps the women to the other (if they fully know the story of Rahab, from prostitute to lineage of Jesus (see Matthew 1:5)).
Lord help me to DO SOMETHING that would live out your word. Teach me how to do your word in a world that so often pollutes and destroys (1:27). And keep me far from showing favoritism (2:1-12) for you love all people, everyone I meet, everyone I see each day. Help me to “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom” (2:12). Thank you for the reminder, “as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (2:26). Now please show me what’s next!