Monday, November 28, 2016

James Chapter 1: A Commentary, Verses 1-8

verse 1

"James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings."

James (Jacob in Hebrew) first identifies himself as a bondservant of God and of Jesus Christ, meaning that his life is constantly submitted to Him.  This letter is primarily addressed to the hebrews (“to the 12 tribes”) which are at this time scattered, however James’ writings certainly have some obvious application to our lives today.  

Verses 2-8
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 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. 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. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."

A radical approach to trials is here proposed by James.  Be glad when trials come into your life! It seems odd, but what he is saying is that what we gain from trials (faith, patience and ultimately full maturity in Christ) far outweighs the burden of trials themselves which, by the way are lightened by Christ (Matthew 11:28-30).  Furthermore, James gives us some advise about wisdom.  We know from elsewhere in scripture that fearing the Lord is a good start for knowledge, but what if we still lack?  James says, ask for it from God!  Assuring us also that God gives wisdom “liberally and without reproach”, meaning that we will never be doing wrong by asking for wisdom earnestly.  But James adds that we need to do so without doubting God’s power and ability to bestow wisdom upon us.  If we do so, we only display instability and said wisdom will not last.  The takeaway is that we need to trust God, ask him in prayer for wisdom, fully believing He can and will give it.  Don't ever make requests of God half-heartedly.  He wants our full trust and confidence, and what a blessing it is to put our faith in Him, fully.  For more on this, see Proverbs 3:5-6.