The author is widely believed to be James the half-brother of Jesus. James was not a follower of Jesus during the Savior’s time on earth but eventually became an apostle after he had seen Jesus after His resurrection.
This book challenges the reader to live the Christian life. As far as James is concerned, a person who professes to be a Christian and yet live an untransformed life may be deceiving himself because genuine faith always produces consistent actions of a transformed life.
The Christian life is not without problems
James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 5:13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
While James encouraged us to live out the Christian life, he did not paint a rosy picture of what life would be if we live it in obedience to God. He tells his readers upfront that they will encounter hardships of many kinds and they will get sick and into trouble. But these problems should not stop us from living the Christian life. God has allowed problems to come into our lives to mould our character.
Seek the wisdom of God
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
The good thing about the Christian life is that you don’t need to live it alone. God has promised to be your constant help. If you need wisdom to live out your life, you only have to ask God. The promise above almost seem repetitive – “gives generously”, “without finding fault”, “will be given to you”. Just as a father would love to be consulted by his child on decisions, our heavenly Father too enjoys such moments. An earthly father has much to share in terms of his experience. Our heavenly Father has omniscient knowledge that we can tap on to solve our problems.
Seek greatness in God’s sight and not the world’s
James 1:9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower.
The world’s value system and God’s value system are totally opposite. The world values the rich and place them in high positions. God values the humble believer and places him in the high position instead. To God, the high positions of the wicked are so temporary that it compares it to a fading flower.
We are only great if we are great in God’s sight. Do not attempt to seek the greatness that the world offers by accumulating worldly wealth and striving for prestigious job positions. We are truly great when we live our life exactly as how God intends us to live.
James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
James warns us that we will face trials – and that includes temptations – in our life. We need to persevere under temptations and not yield to it. Verse 5 says that if we lack wisdom we should ask God and He will freely give. Ask God to give you ideas as to how you should pray and what you should do or avoid if you are faced with temptations.
Evidence of true faith
The Christian life will be one that brings us closer and closer into the likeness of Christ as we allow God to transform us. If anyone does not experience this type of Christian life, or has no urge to lead a life pleasing to God, he should consider whether his faith is genuine in the first place. Genuine faith always results in consistent actions.
James 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.