There are several men named James mentioned in the New Testament, but reliable tradition assigns this book to the one called James the Just – the half-brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55), and brother of Jude (Jude 1), who led the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13).
James, in his greeting, does not mention his relationship as a brother but clearly defines the fact that Jesus is his Lord. He is writing this to the Christians who lived during that time, but how relevant is it to us today! The verses about the testing of our faith are so well known to many of us.
Problems in life are inevitable and it is good to be reminded that trials don’t produce faith, but tests it. Trials reveal to us and others around us, the depth of our faith. What then does produce faith? Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Trials then, don’t produce faith, but it’s good to know that our patience is developed when we face difficulties. How important it is these days to develop patience when so much of what we “need” is only a click away. If we decide to grumble and whine though our difficult times the outcome could be bitterness and discouragement which is why James encourages us to “count it all joy” when we face problems, whether big or small.
What about wisdom? I must admit I have trouble asking God for wisdom then doubt He has granted it to me. James says, 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 me ask in faith, with no doubting is the tricky part for me! Is it because I don’t want to think more of myself than I ought? Romans 12:3. But James does make it clear that I am double-minded and unstable. Gulp! I have to learn to accept that our faithful and loving Lord will answer my requests for wisdom “without reproach” or exasperation. What a comforting thought that is!
True wisdom of course, is always consistent with God’s word. My request for wisdom must be made like any other request – in faith, without doubting God’s ability or desire to give me His wisdom.
What about temptation? James is clear about God not being the tempter. We are all enticed at one time or another by our own desires. Satan relies on our weaknesses being areas where he can undermine our walk with God. It’s good to remind ourselves that Satan’s goal is to steal, to kill and to destroy, then we might be able to resist the deceptions of temptation more easily. I wonder though whether we sometimes give Satan too much credit for his tempting and need to remind ourselves that we are often fulfilling our own desires.
It is good to remember, 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. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
God never changes, never varies and always accepts us because of Jesus’ death for us. We expect no true goodness from ourselves but know, and wholeheartedly believe, that every good and perfect gift comes from our God and Father in heaven.
What more do we need!