The church at which I am privileged to serve as pastor recently started going through the book of James. It is such a powerful book loaded with practical wisdom touching multiple different realms of life. Today, I want to highlight a few lessons from the book!
1. Rejoicing In God’s Work Through Trials
We come to the opening of James for this point. Where he says:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” -James 1:2-4
James, while addressing trials of various kinds, points to the reality that God is at work through these circumstances to grow us in Himself. He is molding us to have more patience and greater character in the Lord. We are to count it as joy whenever we face such situations because of these truths. Clearly, James is teaching us something counterintuitive to our fleshly nature. Our hearts are prone to grumble and complain when adversity arises. The Spirit of Christ works in us bringing us to rejoice because we are being conformed to the Lord according to the eternal purposes of God (cross-reference Romans 8:28-29). Our Lord’s work is so powerful that He brings us to maturity where we are lacking in nothing because we have everything we need in Himself!
2. Doers of The Word
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. -James 1:22-25
James does not rebuke the hearing of the Word in this text, rather, he says that we are not to be exclusively hearers. We need to know the Word of God but we also need to do what the Word says. It is not mere head knowledge which we are seeking after in our lives. God brings about transformation so that we actually apply His Word in our lives. We must not only understand what the Bible says about the family, but actually seek to live out our roles as faithful husbands, wives, sons, and daughters as Scripture commands. Churches should not only read about selfless love, but actually show humble service to one another. James calls on the saints to bridle their tongues, visit orphans and widows, and remain unstained from the world since these are the marks of true religion (James 1:26-27). These are practical, concrete points where Scripture calls upon us to act. We are to put legs to what we believe. They are the outflow of the work of the Spirit in a person’s soul!
3. Humility Before The Lord
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
The teaching of Scripture so impacts our lives that it even changes how we view time. Instead of arrogantly presuming upon the gift of life, we will live realizing that God is in control, our lives are short, and we must submit to His good will. This keeps us from falling into sinful boasting. It helps us to live humbly before the Lord seeking to do that which is right before Him. Our eyes are no longer on ourselves, but they are centered on Christ as we seek to obey Him. Being freed from self-pride by humbly living in the Lord sets us on the path to walk righteously doing that which is good. Understanding the shortness of our lives and our absolute dependence upon the Lord leads to obedience.
James shows us the impact of the Word of God. This book helps us to see wisdom for our speech, growing in humility, being faithful in trials, and loving one another. May we live with wisdom as Christ is at work in and through us. A congregation marked by the practical teaching of this book will be richly edifying to one another as they worship Christ. May He work by His Spirit to make all of us as individuals steadfast in this way!