The book of James is a very practical letter that Martin Luther disliked, calling it an epistle of straw. That was because James uses the words justified, faith and works in different ways than Paul, and Luther was fighting to regain Paul’s teaching to the whole church.
It reads like a sermon with a careful outline. It’s a book about relationships in the local church. He dreams of a church made up of rich and poor, 1:9-11, where faith is our greatest wealth, 2:5, where we care for the needy, 2:15, and guard our tongues, 4:11-12; 5:9.
The introduction and conclusion balance each other like any good sermon.
|The need for patience 1:2-4||The need for patience 5:7-12|
|and prayer 1:5-6||and prayer 5:13-18|
|in all of life’s circumstances.|
Trials and temptations
I slipped a disc really badly about 20 years ago and it was made worse by an osteopath so I ended pretty much on the floor in great pain for 6 months. It was about a year before I could walk with normal strides. I ended up in a self-pity party and was horrible to be with. One day I listened to a CJ Mahaney sermon on these verses and was nailed on it! I was failing the consider it joy test. It changed my perspective and made me easier to live with as I recovered slowly.
Trials and temptations don’t come from God, but remaining steadfast in them leads to a crown of life – the reward of Hebrews 10 and 11, and 1 Corinthians 3.
God doesn’t tempt us – the lingering fleshly desires we have do.
Temptation (not sin) leads to desire (beginning to sin) giving birth to sin which, if carried on, leads to death.
God gives the good stuff, v.17.
Using our mouths in proportion to our ears!
James wants us to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to get angry. We have two ears and one mouth so we should use them in proportion! Anger doesn’t usually lead to good things or righteousness. So listen well, take a deep breath and think before you speak.
Be doers of the word.
It is so tempting, in an educated society, to get fat on teaching without ever putting it into practice. James exhorts us to be doers of the word not just hearers. We will be blessed as we do!
Watch your tongue
James repeats the thoughts of v.19 – watch your tongue!