A reflection on James

The book of James is such an extremely practical book. Aimed at mature believers in the first century, it was written by James, the brother of Jesus, to encourage them to show the reality of Jesus Christ in their everyday lives. I know from church history that Luther rejected the book ‘as one of straw’[i]. However, there is so much practical goodness in it!

I liked Brett Barclay’s (C3 College, Sydney) thoughts on the verses that speaks of the trials that face believers (James 1:2-4). That trials are directed towards an end. And how we respond determines whether we are fitting or unfitting for the purposes for which God created us. And then to have him logically explain what that response looks like , through 4 steps: count, know, let and ask. Counting it all joy, know – have an understanding mind of what trials bring to us, let yourself have a surrendered will, asking God at all times for wisdom. God who gives generously to all without finding fault! (James 1:5)

What had not previously overtly dawned on me, was the nature of trials in maturing the Christian faith – towards an end. It is the latter part of that sentence that was a revelation for me. Trials for producing patience (v. 3) and perseverance (Rom 5:3), that is well established in my mind. But the idea – based on an understanding of the Greek for trial (peirasmós), how we respond to trials will either prove us fit or unfit for the purpose for which we were created, that a trial is directed towards a broader and more defined Godly purpose, is a new understanding. I note in the concordance that the word is also translated as ‘probation or proving’[ii]. Almost as if God is asking, are you ready yet? To which I hope to answer, “Yes, Lord, Here I am, send me” (Is 6:8).

[i] A R Fausset; David Brown; Robert Jamieson, (1961). Jamieson, Fausset & Brown’s commentary on the whole Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[ii] Thayer’s Greek Lexicon (2011). Electronic Database, Biblesoft.com.

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