Reading For Thursday James 1:1-2:26
James does not mention his relationship to Jesus, instead he shows his humility by calling himself a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. He addresses the letter to the Dispersion because the Jews had been scattered and were living outside their Palestinian homeland. James urges his readers to count it as joy in the face of trials. Believers are not to pretend that the sufferings of this life are not real and painful. James makes the point that joy can be found in the midst of suffering and that there is purpose in suffering will be over. Wisdom and understanding are needed and God will give generously to those who ask him. It is important to pray in faith. Faith is not believing that God will do what we want done, instead it is believing that God will do what he has promised to do. One must hold to faith and not doubting hold to their faith. Enduring trials brings with it the crown of life.
James warns believers not to blame God for temptation in their lives. God does not entice them to sin. The progression of sin begins with desires, moves to sin, and ends in death. God’s Word is like a seed that is planted within the Christian to grow into salvation. God’s Word is like a mirror that clearly reflects the condition of the one who looks into it. God’s Word is like a law that provides freedom. A true response to God’s Word involves both outward activity and inward control. The tongue betrays whether or not one's religion is of worth. Ministry to orphans and widows was the outward activity, while separation from the world was evidence of inner control.
James rebukes those that would demonstrate favoritism to the rich who attended their services while ignoring the poor. The display of partiality for the rich was contrary to their own interests and that partiality was also antithetical to God’s law. James reminds these believers that they would be judged for their inconsistency. James warns against a faith that only speaks kind words to the poor without offering them help was not a saving faith. Faith is manifested in works just as Abraham and Rahab demonstrated their obedience to God by works. One is saved by faith alone but it is not a faith that stays alone. A faith that only gives mental assent without producing a changed life is dead and is no faith at all.
Things To Consider:
- Why do you think it so significant that the half brother of Jesus calls himself a servant of Jesus?
- How can you find joy during trials?
- How often do you ask God for wisdom? Why is that?
- Why does it matter that God does not tempt us?
- Why should we avoid distinctions in the church when it comes to money?
- Why is loving one's neighbor the royal law?
- How does mercy triumph over judgment?
- Why do works matter?
- Why must faith be accompanied by works?