Studying the books of the Bible is a crucial tenet of Christianity and the formation of a deep, lasting relationship with God. Some books can be easier, and more pleasant, to study than others. However, all are the inspired words of God, Himself and are all equally worthy of our time and meditation. Today, we will begin part one of a four part series on the book of James in order to highlight and discuss the key themes of James's writings and what they can teach us about our faith. In this post we will be starting with a short explanation of who James was before diving into the first theme of James's writings: trials.
The book of James was written as a letter from James (sometimes called James "the Just"), who was the half brother of Jesus Christ. James had not originally been a believer in his brother and it was not until after the resurrection that he came on board (after the resurrected Christ came to visit him!) and began to teach the Good News. That doesn't mean he was insignificant though! He wrote a book of the New Testament and was one of the great Apostles in the early church... he was even a leader in the Jerusalem Church! The letter was written to Jewish Christians, dispersed outside Palestine in about 60 AD. The theme of his letter can be summarized as "true faith will show itself in righteous living" and the main lesson of the letter is "there is a purpose to trials and temptations." Today, we look at the first "sub-theme" of the letter: trials.
James 1:1: "This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings!"
Here, as he begins his letter, James humbles himself by saying he is a “servant of God” and Jesus Christ. He also sets the scene by telling us he is speaking to Christians who have fled after the death of Jesus and subsequent persecution of the church.These people had definitely faced an immense amount of trials as a result of their belief!
James 1:2-4: Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
James acknowledges that Christians will face trials but urges them to face trials head-on. Your faith will be tested and your endurance will grow; so don’t complain! Meet it with joy on purpose and remember: you don’t always have to FEEL joy to BE joyful.
James 1:5: If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.
What James says here is so important for ALL of us! Ask God to show you what to do and for wisdom in trials and He WILL help you without reproach! He will be present the entire time; that's a promise!
James 1:6: But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.
Don't you hate to see the word 'but'? There's a catch to asking God for wisdom in trials, and that is faith! If you are in a trial, you will only get through it by wisdom, godly wisdom, to make wise choices and make it through; but, in order to obtain such wisdom, you need to lean fully into God.
Join me next time for part two of our series as we discuss temptation and what it means to be a godly "doer".
Are you looking for a good reading plan and just don't know where to start? Join me in reading all about the Bible's teachings on Thanksgiving throughout the whole month of November! Check out our November reading plan below and don't forget to stop by our Instagram Live (@whitneygibbsministries) each evening to discuss the day's readings!