(Originally published Jan. 4, 2021)
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.” James 1:1
James starts right out of the gate here increasing his credibility as a follower of Christ. This James was the half brother of Jesus, but he does not use that title as a hook for his audience. James, calls himself a “servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”. This is important because if you remember back in the book of John, Jesus’ brothers were not supportive of his ministry. But at some point James had become a follower of him as the Christ and not as his brother.
He jumps right into his teaching with the following verse.
“Count it all joy, my bothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
If you have followed along with my devotions at all, you know that I have had trouble with this verse in the past. For so long, I could not imagine counting all joy my trials as it says in verse 2. This is why you need verses 3 and 4. It is not the trial itself that you count as joy, it is what the trial produces in you. When we go through trials we can either run from God or run to God, and what we do is what is going to be the measure of the faith we have in God. If we run to God, knowing that He is the only way we can get through the trial then we are exercising our faith in God, and that produces the steadfastness, or patience (NKJV), or perseverance (NIV). As our patience, steadfastness, perseverance grows it produces in us perfection of our faith.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all with our reproach, and it will be given him. 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.” James 1:5-6
God loves to give us wisdom and He will give it generously and it is one thing we can ask of God that will never bring reproach from Him. He wants to give us wisdom to understand His word. We need to know that He will always give us wisdom if we just ask for it. I know that I have found in my quiet times, that I can open God’s word and I can read the words on the page and I can close the book and then wonder what it was that I just read. But if I pray before I open the word and ask God to give me understanding of it, that is when something will stand out to me, That is when He will give me a word that feels like it was meant just for me, but I must ask for that understanding, knowing and believing that it is His desire to give it to me.
“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.” James 1:12
When we remain steadfast under our trials and wait for God’s answer under our trials, and we stand the test of time, we receive a “crown of life”. What James is saying here is that when we endure trials and we persevere through them, it is worth it. When we hold fast to Him through whatever we are going through and allow Him to do the work He will use it for His glory. I know I am making this sound so easy by the words on the page. Please know that I know it is not always easy. There are times I have had to drag my will to persevere, to the cross. It is not always easy, there have been times that I have cried and felt like the answers that I wanted, that I needed would never come. But I can honestly tell you that through tears, and through heartache and through pain, He has never let me down. I have felt battered and bruised at times, but I also know that He doesn’t waste my pain and that if I lay it all down at His feet He will redeem it and He will be glorified and that will make it worth it in the end.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at this natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 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.” James 1:22-25
When we open God’s word and we read it, we have two choices. We can check the box that, well I did that today, or we can let it work in us, we can be doers of the word. We want to be doers, the doers of the word let it change them, the doers of the word have the tools to persevere in the trials, the doers of the word will minister to others even when things may not all be going right in their world. The doers of the word will be blessed.
I pray we will be doers and will be blessed!