James 1

Today let’s read James 1.

James is one of the most immediately practical books of the Bible. Every verse, it seems, speaks directly to everyday issues in life. The first paragraph here in 1:2-12 tells us why God allows any kind of problem into our lives as believers. It is because “the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (v. 3).

Verses 13-18 tells us how to handle temptation to sin. Verses 19-27 address how God’s word seeks to change us in every day life. When we listen to the word and obey what it says, it teaches us to control our anger (vv. 19-21) our tongue (vv. 22-26) and to care for the weak and defenseless (v. 27). All of these things are hard to do so they demonstrate real spiritual growth in a person.

The core of this passage is in verses 22-25 and verse 22 states the main truth: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” This is ever-present temptation for any Christian who reads the Bible daily and attends church regularly. Whenever we are consistently taking in God’s word, part of us will think that is good enough. But verses 23-25 addressed that tendency by telling us how foolish it is to learn God’s word without applying it to our lives. It is as foolish as looking in the mirror, seeing messed up hair or smeared makeup or a big coffee stain on your shirt but doing nothing about these things and going on your day as if everything is perfect. God’s blessing, according to verse 25, is given to those who consistently read God’s word and do their best to remember and apply it to their lives.

So keep this in mind as we go forward in these daily devotions. God wants to inform your mind so that he can change your life. Knowing God’s truth is essential because transformation never bypasses the mind. But knowing the truth is only the first step; obeying the truth is the true end goal of Bible reading, Bible teaching and preaching. The Bible’s truth should always be life-altering.

Maybe this discussion has reminded you of something in your life that you know needs changing but you haven’t made that change yet. Take a few minutes to ask for God’s help in that area and think about one or two action steps you can take today or this week to move you closer to obedience.

Numbers 17–18, Psalm 55, Isaiah 7, James 1

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Numbers 17–18, Psalm 55, Isaiah 7, James 1. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read James 1.

James says so much in such a few verses. He moves swiftly from one topic to another and it is sometimes difficult to see whether the topics are supposed to be related in some way or not. His opening words in verse 1, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,” are provocative. Most people do not get joy from different kinds of trials. We do not perceive it as a reason to rejoice nor do we rejoice instinctively when life gets hard. That’s why James commands us to “consider it pure joy.” It is an act of deliberate mental decision; instead of instinctively getting sad or angry when we face trials, James tells us to consciously choose to consider our trials something to rejoice over. Why? Verse 2: “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Since verse 1 called these “trials of many kinds,” we know that he is not only speaking of persecution but, in addition to persecution, he means any problem in life that offers a choice between faith and unbelief. It might be spiritual, physical, financial, relational, intellectual, or whatever; if it is something that would usually make someone question God and why they trust in him, it is a trial like the one James is discussing. And why should we consider the trials of our faith to be “pure joy?” Because, verse 3b says that “the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” In other words, things that do not wreck our faith only make it stronger. When we face trials, then, we should rejoice because God is growing us. He is strengthening our faith so that we learn to trust and love Christ more and become better equipped to serve him on the other side of the trial. The end of all this perseverance through trials is “that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (v. 4b). God places us through trials to compete us spiritually and morally. In those moments where faith is called for, God is building us, refining us, making us more like Christ and more effective for him. Whatever trial you find yourself in today, learn to thank God for it. When it comes to mind, thank God for what he is teaching you. When you are looking for the easy way out, thank God for how he is completing you as a Christian. When your faith in God’s character is shaking, thank God for the trial and don’t give up your faith! 

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.