Words in italic type have been added for clarity. They are not found in the original Hebrew or Aramaic.
Greeting to the Twelve Tribes
James 1:1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad:
Profiting from Trials
James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
- “What is the difference between being tested and being tempted? Since God is our Father, He raises His children in the same way an earthly father would want to raise his children. We test our children to see if they can handle the resources and responsibility they have been given. If they do well, don’t wreck the car, don’t throw a wild party, don’t let strangers in, etc. then we can let them take the next step of maturity.” ~unknown
- God never tempts anyone. God cannot be tempted and He does not temp others. Satan tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness and failed miserably.
- James 1:13 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.
James 1:3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience (endurance or perseverance).
James 1:4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking nothing.
- “Trust and patience living amid God’s peace is an elixir changing the pathways of one’s own life. It rewrites the story of one’s personal life from grief to joy “.
James 1:5 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.
- Wisdom is better than riches, fame, love, or pleasure. Wisdom is knowing how to act in any given circumstance. Wisdom is understanding others and why they do what they do. Wisdom is knowing how to apply knowledge. Wisdom is knowing how to make choices. Wisdom is weighing out the value of one thing over another. A wise man tests the character of another before he trusts him. A wise man can trust because he verifies.
- King Solomon asked for wisdom over riches. He is known as the wisest man who ever lived.
- God loved Jacob but hated Esau. Esau gave away his most valuable possession for temporary pleasure.
- “The father of wisdom is Truth, and the mother of wisdom is Love. Truth is harsh and Love may hurt, but together they bear the fruit of wisdom for sinful men.” ~ Barbara Grover
- The fool does not ask for wisdom because he is a fool.
James 1:6 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.
- The sea is people who are either at peace in the still waters or driven and tossed in a storm of fretting, worrying, making bad decisions, and landing wherever haphazard winds decide. Satan is a storm that stirs the sea and causes the waves to roar. He uproots trees that have no roots. Faith calms the storm and lets the Son shine.
James 1:7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
- God does not reward bad decisions which led to bad behavior. God is not an enabler.
James 1:8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
- A double-minded man has one foot in a boat (God) and the other foot on the shore (the world), the boat tips with every shifting of weight. The waters of the world are unstable but the Rock on the shore is sure.
The Perspective of Rich and Poor
James 1:9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation,
- The lowly (poor) are lifted in God’s eyes because they must rely on the Lord for their provisions.
- The shepherd David wrote “He anoints my head with oil”. Only kings and priests were anointed. God anoints the head of a believer and lifts him to the status of royalty.
- God gives equally to all men at birth, not in riches, beauty, health, or the things of the world. Rather, God gives a piece of His own genius to each person who is born which no other person possesses. It up to each man to discover his gifts and to use them to serve others. This is dignity. It is something that defines how God made us and it entirely appropriate to exalt in it.
- It is not to be confused with pride. Pride comes when we try to be more than that which God made us to be and we puff ourselves up.
- Our dignity is our “umbilical cord” connecting us to our Creator.
- Satan’s goal is to separate us from God, breaking the bonds between us and God.
James 1:10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.
- Therefore; it can be, as our forefathers said “All men are created equal”.
- Riches cannot add to a person’s eternal life any more than worry does. What is the value of riches over worry? None if the person is relying on God.
James 1:11 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.
Loving God Under Trials
James 1:12 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.
- There is a crown of life for those who endure temptation without giving in to bad decisions.
- A crown signifies authority over a territory. The crown of life includes being able to reign over the territory of temptation.
Other verses also speak of earning crowns:
- 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 [Striving for a Crown] Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate (moderate, as regard to indulgence in appetite or passion, self restrained) in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
Moderate, as regard to indulgence in appetite or passion. Self restrained.
- Philippians 4:1 [Be Anxious for Nothing; Think These Thoughts] Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.
- 1 Thessalonians 2:19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?
- 2 Timothy 2:5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
- 2 Timothy 4:8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
- 1 Peter 5:4 And when the Chief Shepherd (Jesus the Christ) appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
- Revelation 2:10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
- Revelation 3:11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown
- Don’t give up your crown in exchange for worldly items.
James 1:13 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.
James 1:14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
James 1:15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
- Sin comes in three forms:
- Fascination – Imagination
- Formula – Plan – Thoughts
- Follow Through – Actions – Body
James 1:16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
James 1:17 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.
- Shadows cannot reside in light.
- Wherever the Light goes, the shadow retreats.
- The Spirit leaves no shadows.
James 1:18 Of His own will He brought us forth (birthed) by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
Qualities Needed in Trials
James 1:19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
Moderate, as regard to indulgence in appetite or passion. Self restrained.
James 1:20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
- There is a “wrath of man” and a “wrath of God”. The first is man-driven in vengeance and the other is God driven in justice.
- Romans 12:19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
Doers—Not Hearers Only
James 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
- The implanted word grows roots of faith.
James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
- A FABLE:
A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package.
“What food might this be?” the mouse wondered. But he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning: “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”
The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”
The mouse turned to the pig and told him “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”
The pig sympathized but said “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.”
The mouse turned to the cow and said “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”
The cow said “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”
So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap alone.
That very night a sound was heard throughout the house – like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.
The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught.
The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient.
But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.
The farmer’s wife did not get well; she died.
When many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to feed them.
So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn’t concern you, remember this: when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. God’s greatest second commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.
- Mark 12:31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
- Mordecai’s words of wisdom to Esther:
Esther 4:13 And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews.
James 1:23 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;
- A mirror reflects truth. For a sinner too much truth is toxic. Therefore; God in his mercy gives us just enough truth to bring us along. However; if we reject the little truth, how can we understand the bigger truths?
James 1:24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
James 1:25 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.
- The perfect law of liberty results in perfect works. (A tree is known by its fruit).
James 1:26 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.
- Religion is man made. Only a relationship with Jesus matters. It does not need the go-between of a religious man. Remember, it was the religious leaders who crucified Jesus.
James 1:27 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.
- Summary: James points out there are two directions: One leads to death and the other leads to life. This is best described in the story of Jacob and Esau who each went their own way after being reunited. Esau went to Mount Seir (the mountain of devils) and Jacob went to Succoth (booths, tents). Genesis 33
- Faith leads to patience and self restraint, self restraint to wisdom, wisdom to righteousness and righteousness to Life.
- On the other hand:
Faithlessness leads to reactionary self-indulgent desires, unrestrained desires leads to sin, and sin to death.