Jas 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.
- Hello to all who wander this way. I haven’t written anything in a while, but tonight James Chapter 1 really grabbed me.
Jas 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
- What is a trial, really? Is it being away from home for two weeks on a business trip? Perhaps not being able to have my favorite latte arequipe because I’m bleaching my teeth? Waking up at 1:30 a.m. and having a hard time getting back to sleep? I hardly think so, when I look at the trials Paul lists in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28.
Jas 1:3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
- I long for steadfastness in my life. I have spent too long bouncing along, dreaming dreams, but never becoming the husband and father God created me to be. Lord, I’m not asking for trials, but do whatever it takes to increase my faith!
Jas 1:4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
- What might it be like to be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing? In one sense, I really am lacking in nothing – I have food, shelter, clothing, a car, a caring, beautiful wife who loves me, four wonderful children, an excellent job, and much more. On the other hand, I am far from perfect and complete; I am not holy, as God is holy, set apart completely for Him. I was listening to a Doug Small message tonight, and he talked about how the Industrial Revolution took men out of the home, and 200 years later we hardly exist in the home. That’s me! I live and breathe work, while my family is left effectively fatherless and leaderless! Not that I must quit work – they need to eat – but I must make my relationship with God, and my relationship with Marla, and my relationship with my children become my focus. If I do that, work will take care of itself, in the right time and the right perspective.
Jas 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Jas 1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
Jas 1:7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
Jas 1:8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
- Wow. This section hits hard. I am reminded of the “Lies We Believe” portion of the WIT conferences. For a long time I would say that one of the lies I have believed is that I am not capable of making a good decision. Marla has given me a different perspective on some things, however: Mat 5:25 “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.” The idea is that sometimes the enemy tries to bind me up with the truth, to get me to wallow in the prison of self-pity. However, in my agreement with him (yes, I am rotten at making decisions) I can be set free to seek a solution – God’s wisdom. My problem is that I still waver. I don’t have single-minded faith when I ask for God’s wisdom. I live in the fear that I’m just going to mess up again, and it paralyzes me – I am unstable at work, and at home, and I can only keep up the façade for so long. Mar 9:24 “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’”
Jas 1:9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation,
Jas 1:10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away.
Jas 1:11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
- My family and I started reading and praying through Operation World two or three weeks ago. It lists the average yearly income for various countries, and we read of a couple with that number below $200 yearly. I am rich beyond imagination for some folks, yet I take it for granted. I am going to fade away in the midst of all my pursuits if I don’t get the right focus. My children are growing and soon to be gone. My wife needs my attention and leadership. I need to see these riches with humility, as a gift of stewardship from God, a tool not to be taken for granted, not merely a means to gratify my desires and fill me with pleasure.
Jas 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
- Rev 4:10,11 “the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.’”
- I just have to soak that verse in. What kind of crown will I have to cast at the feet of God in worship?
Jas 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
Jas 1:14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
Jas 1:15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
- My flesh seeks to devour me.
- Rom 7:17-24 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
- God is my salvation!
- Rom 7:25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
- Rom 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
- Tit 3:4-7 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Jas 1:16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.
- I know this connects the next verse, but I just have to sit and say, “Amen!” Please don’t fall prey to the deceptions of the Enemy. Satan is roaming the earth looking for brethren to devour.
Jas 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
- This verse is so sticky sweet that I often miss its power. I want to dwell on the part about receiving gifts, but miss the part about NO VARIATION. God is changeless – He will never go back on his nature, we can always trust Him! Period!
Jas 1:18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
- It is by the very will of God that we exist! I am not the accidental result of some combination between primordial scum and a bolt of lightning! Rather, I was spoken into existence by God’s intentional word, just like the rest of creation. Thank you, Lord, for giving me life!
Jas 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
- Hard. Hard, hard, hard. Very hard, but oh! so fruitful when I am. My kids know me as quick to anger, quick to speak, and they hardly bother coming to me any more. What a condemnation! Lord, change me!
Jas 1:20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Jas 1:21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
- This is the concept of “put off” that I have heard so often. I am still putting off, and it seems like it will never end, but I know that God is faithfully at work in my heart and mind to will and to do His good pleasure.
Jas 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
- “Put on”. It’s what I have to do after I put off, or else I will go nowhere, until I just slide back into the filthy slime.
Jas 1:23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.
Jas 1:24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
- Lord, don’t let me ever forget! Break my pride!
Jas 1:25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
- The law of liberty. Not freedom to do whatever I feel like – it is not the “freedom in Christ” I have heard so often through the years that “allows” me to get drunk, or look at pornography, or live in slothfulness because now I am set free from the Law. No, this liberty is the perfect law, the law of loving God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, and doing my utmost to do His will until the day I die.
Jas 1:26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
- I have lived the outwardly religious life while filled with death and corruption hidden within. It was a miserable life, and I thank God for setting me free!
Jas 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
- What a picture, along with a responsibility. I can’t afford to miss that “keep oneself unstained” at the end. I have no part in my salvation – God has given me salvation as a free gift by His grace. However, as part of my Christian life, my sanctification, I am responsible to cognizantly seek to live a pure, holy, unsullied life through the power of the Holy Spirit living within me. I must choose to serve God, not my flesh, not the world around me, not the whisperings of the one who tempted Adam and Eve into bringing death and destruction into this world.
Well, that’s a long dissertation, but I needed to write it down more for my own sake, to see it in print, to remind myself again and again as I revisit this post in the years to come.
May God’s grace and peace be with you all!