342 - A Letter from James, the Brother of Jesus (Part 2)
December 8 - Nº 342 James 1:13 – 5:20
James had already shared with his readers that the trials they were facing had a purpose. They were external tests that God allowed to come into their lives, because He knew that experiencing them would cause their faith to grow (see #341 - December 7). Then James went on to explain that temptations are very different from trials. Instead of resulting from external causes, temptations are a product of our own internal desires. He made it clear that choosing to fulfill these desires rather than obey God always culminates in sin. James addressed some of the temptations that these believers were struggling with. The first was anger. To counteract this internal impulse, they needed to learn to listen rather than react. They needed to hear not only what the other person was trying to say, but more importantly what God had to say in His Word. As they looked at their own reactions compared to how God wanted them to behave, they would find solutions. James challenged these Jewish believers to stop having their own angry pity parties and start helping other people whose problems were bigger than their own. He specifically mentioned widows and orphans as examples of people in need. As the believers took their eyes off their own hurt feelings, they would start experiencing the joy that James had promised was possible (see #341 - December 7). James also told these scattered Christians to stop discriminating against people who weren’t like them. He bluntly stated that being prejudiced or showing preference was sinful. “If you really love God,” he said, “you will love your neighbor and treat them exactly how you want to be treated. The goal in your relationships should be to help others—not to use them to benefit yourselves.” James explained that their actions on the outside indicated what kind of faith they had on the inside.
If they really had faith, they wouldn’t just promise to pray for someone who was hungry or cold. They would take care of their needs.
If they really had faith, they would allow God to tame their tongues. Their words would only be used to help, never to harm. They would only be used for truth, never for lies.
If they really had faith, they would not be so quick to quarrel over petty issues or belittle other people. They would become peacemakers.
If they really had faith, they would stop making prideful plans for their own selfish future. They would allow God to plan each day.
If they really had faith, they would be patient and not be sidetracked by doubt as they waited for Jesus to return.
If they really had faith, they would endure their trials and not give in to their temptations.
In order to have a faith that really worked during tough times, James instructed his readers to stop letting Satan influence them. Instead, they should move closer to God by spending time with Him in prayer and praise.
If you were put on trial tomorrow for your faith, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Does your life confirm that you are a follower of Jesus Christ?