Instead of following chapter by chapter, I think it is better to regroup them into logically linked topic. So we shall cover James 1:1 to James 2:13.
Check#1 How You Handle Trials and Temptations
Mature believers faces trials with joy. They welcome trials. What are the kinds of trials that we face? It could be verbal or physical attacks on you to stop you from doing the work that God has called you. They ridicule your hardworkingness like staying late as being stupid because the boss is not watching. Some may even want to stop you from setting the standards. In certain places, they may put you in jail for your sharing of the gospels. For those of us who enjoyed religion freedom, our persecutions tends to be ridicules for our faith. But, have you known the secret of using turning every ridicule into an opportunity for sharing the gospel truth? Sometimes we just keep quiet and response with a smile. Sometimes we bring out truths that they may be shocked. The worse reaction is to attack back which shows that we are no different from them. Your sincerety and integrity in your workplace is a good testimony for Christ. Friends shared that colleagues approach them for help and advices because they can see that they truly caring and have wisdom.
Mature believes welcome trials because trials are like physical training for our body. Physical training builds stronger muscles. Trials produces steadfastness and make us complete and prepare us to receive the crown of life in future. Paul's version in Rom 5:2 tells us it produces endurance, character and hope and reality of God. Peter's version in 2 Pet 1:5-7 says the testing of our faith brings virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, kindness and love. They are stages of our spiritual growth.
We tend forget about the Christ in us when we faces trials. We try this and that and approach God as a last resort. This should be reversed. The first thing to do is to ask God. Ask God for wisdom and the grace to handle the trials. We must ask in faith. It is ok to have doubts. But we must handle them. Resolved doubts produces stronger faith. Doubt is believe in the opposite of faith. Our faith is not increased by our trying to believe. Bible tells faith is increased with presentation of more envidences -the Word of God. Find the promises of God and stand on them. The worse thing to do is sit on fence and vibrate between faith and doubt. Handle your doubts with prayers, the reading of Bible, and consult your spiritual mentors or just brothers and sisters around you who may be able to present you Godly evidences to remove your doubts and strength your faith.
3. Outcome - by what yardstick?:
We cannot use the worldly standards to judge the outcome. Worldy standards uses money-wealth, popularity-glory as measures of success. By worldly view, Christ's death on the cross is the greatest defeat (that was what Satan thought too). But Christ's death is the greatest victory for men - for the price of our sins was paid in full. James warn us often not to trust in riches and using wealth as a yardstick. Wealth is temporary. Christ tell us to use the temporary wealth to exchange for true lasting tresures in heaven. Don't be enslaved by wealth so as to pursue and hoard them as security, get wealth to use them on building the kindgom of God.
James is quick to point out temptations are different from trials. Temptation comes from our own desire, not from God. We can partly blame it on the devil who know sour weakness and leads us to sin but we hold the final decision on whether to yield or not. Sin brings bondage and finally death. Temptations are bad. Only good things come from God. Don't blame God for your sins and failures. Here is quick comparison.
Check#3 Good Behavior List
- Quick to Hear
- Slow to Speak
- Slow to Anger
- Humble to learn
- Doers of the Words and not hearer only
Check#4 Not to Do List - No Excuse Please
- wickedness and filthiness - (we are keep away from worldly standards and practices)
- partiality (different treatment for different class of people)
How can we manage our lives? Who is to prevent us from going astray? The key is to have accountability. We are accountable firstly to God for all speech and actions. In Chapter 5, James tell us that we are accountable to one another in Christ. Accountability to God is also being accountable to the authorities in the roles we play in our lives. Husband and wife are accountable to each other. So are bosses and staff, parents and children and between friends too.
Questions for Reflections:
- What are the differences between trials and temptations? How do we handle them?
- What are the behavior of mature believers? List the do and don't.
- What is the meaning of accountability? What are the elements involved?