James is a favorite for so many because of its down to earth, practical advice for Christian living.
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James 1 (ESV)
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
3 for you know that
the testing of your faith
4 And let steadfastness have its full effect,
that you may be
perfect and complete,
lacking in nothing.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom,
let him ask God,
gives generously to all
and it will be given him.
6 But let him ask
with no doubting,
for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
7 For that person
must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
8 he is
a double-minded man,
unstable in all his ways.
the lowly brother boast in his exaltation,
10 and the rich in his humiliation,
like a flower of the grass
he will pass away.
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.
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.
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,”
cannot be tempted with evil,
and he himself tempts no one.
14 But each person is tempted
when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
15 Then desire
when it has conceived gives birth to sin,
and sin when it is fully grown
brings forth death.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift
is from above,
from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
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.
19 Know this, my beloved brothers:
let every person be
quick to hear,
slow to speak,
slow to anger;
the anger of man
does not produce the righteousness of God.
put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness
and receive with meekness the implanted word,
which is able to save your souls.
be doers of the word,
and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
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.
24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
25 But the one who looks into the perfect law,
the law of liberty, and perseveres,
no hearer who forgets
but a doer who acts,
he will be blessed in his doing.
26 If anyone thinks he is religious
and does not bridle his tongue
but deceives his heart,
this person’s religion is worthless.
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.
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James 1 Summary
The book of James is like the Proverbs of the New Testament. Rather than having a linear format like Galatians or Hebrews, in which ideas are presented and fleshed out over the course of several chapters, James is a collections of short vignettes, which were likely excerpts of sermons James delivered over the years.
By my count, this first chapter contains seven separate unrelated teachings:
v2-8 - Faith and wisdom are the result of going through trials;
v9-11 - If you don't have the all the goodies the world offers, don't worry... they're all going to fade away anyways;
v12 - Stand strong, for the crown of life awaits those who pass the test;
v13-15 - Don't blame temptations the world brings on God;
v16-18 - God is the overflowing fountain of everything good, and you are of Him!
v19-25 - Keep your mouth closed and your ears open;
v26-27 - True religion is caring for the forgotten and keeping yourself separate from the world.
We live in a world of hot takes where everything that happens is followed by an instantaneous flood of Tweets and posts, most of which are irrelevant, misleading and utterly foolish.
James has far different advice for you in v19-20:
let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Of course this advice is good and makes total sense, especially for those of us who are in Christ. But the reality of it is that it's extremely hard advice to follow, especially when we're in a heated argument or our anger is provoked while reading something disagreeable online.
Thankfully James goes on to tells us how we can be this way in two steps in v21:
put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness
receive with meekness the implanted word.
Once again, reading God's Word helps remind how important it is to read God's Word!
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The One who gives generously without finding fault (v5)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask for the strength to put away filthiness & wickedness and continually receive God's word (v21).
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: