We begin this study by reading James 1:1-11
The name ‘James’ (in both the Hebrew and Greek text) is the name ‘Jacob’ (Yaacov). James was the half-brother of Yeshua (Matt 13:55, see also Jude 1:1). He was a Jewish believer and a leader in the congregation in Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-21). In this book, James reminds us that we are called to live lives that are different from the rest of the world. Our behaviour needs to demonstrate to others (to testify) that we are in a covenantal relationship with G-d. As others see our lives, it needs to “provoke them to jealousy” to the point where they too desire to have a relationship with G-d. Throughout this study I will be basing my comments on the NKJV.
v1: Although James could lay claim to being Yeshua’s brother, in humility he considered himself Yeshua’s servant. This is a miraculous happening in my opinion – it must have been quite a process for James to get to this point – where he considered himself a servant, a bondslave, to his brother. Humility is a vital “ingredient” to being used by G-d, and in order to be pleasing to G-d (Matt 23:12).
· OF G-d… OF the L-rd: The word ‘of’ is a word used to show belonging.
· Scattered abroad: This is a letter written to those who are in exile, those who are not in the right location (i.e.Those outside of the land of Israel). Those in exile (physically and spiritually) want a change, but the only way true change can come about is through redemption.
v2: Brethren – referring to both male and female believers.
· Count it = esteem it, consider it. Place value on it.
· joy – This is the attitude/mindset that we should have when we are persecuted, or are suffering, for our faith. We know, prophetically, that before Yeshua comes again, to establish His Kingdom, believers are going to go through a time of intense trials (hardships), tribulations and persecution.
Why should we have joy? The trials etc give us a spiritual opportunity for growth, for maturity. We need to see them as an opportunity to produce a G-dly change in our lives.
v3: Times of trial provide us with an opportunity to prove (“test”) our faith. They have an effect upon our witness. It is an opportunity to be a powerful testimony before others.
· Produces: Trials have the potential to lead to fruitfulness.
· Patience: Endurance. Steadfastness. Perseverance.
v4: But: This ‘but’ is not a ‘but’ of contrast, but refers to an extension of that patience – the achievement of a greater outcome.
· Perfect: Complete. That which is in its entirety, lacking nothing (G-d supernaturally provides). When words like ‘perfect’ (emphasised twice in this verse) are used we need to pay attention. These words speak of unbelievably positive opportunities that we can receive.
Note: The benefit of persevering is that it allows the believer to have access to G-d’s perfect provision (a spiritual resource) in their lives, so that they can successfully carry out His will.
v5: Wisdom: Wisdom allows us to understand the need to endure through trials, knowing that being given the opportunity to endure will result in complete and full joy as G-d’s workmanship is experienced through our lives.
· Gives…liberally: G-d is very generous and provides abundantly. He is not stingy.
· Without reproach: Without disgracing or shaming. G-d doesn’t bring shame on us when we ask Him for wisdom. He is not stingy, and gives generously to those who ask ACCORDING TO HIS WILL!
v6: No doubting: There is a condition to asking – to ask without doubting. Doubt is exceedingly rude and insulting to G-d. G-d cannot lie (Heb 6:18, Titus 1:2) and has perfect integrity.
Whatever He reveals we can take hold of, and we can be assured that all the promises He has made He is able to (and will) keep.
· Like: Similar to
· Wave: Waves do not determine among themselves where they go…
· Driven and tossed: …They are at the mercy of the wind.
Note: When we doubt, instead of being strengthened, edified or made complete, we are going to be like a wave that is easily moved, and defeated, by spiritual influences that are not of G-d.
It is so dangerous for the believer to doubt. When we do not affirm the authority of the Word of G-d or do not have the utmost regard for the integrity of Scripture we open ourselves up for the activity of the enemy and will not be in a spiritual condition to resist him.
v7: Suppose: Think or Expect
· The L-rd: The one who doubts does not recognize the authority, the L-rdship, of Yeshua in his/her life. When we fail to recognize His authority, it weakens us spiritually. It affects how we see things – we do not see things from G-d’s perspective.
v8: Doubled-minded: Doublemindedness leads to instability. Doublemindedness can be seen as confessing belief in G-d (or His Word) but not living according to it.
v9: Lowly: Humble (as seen in v1) It is impossible to serve G-d in pride. Humility assures G-d’s activity in a person’s life.
· Glory: Boast. This is a word of confidence, having assurance. It is just a matter of time until G-d lifts him up and moves in his life.
v10: As difficult as it is for a poor man to boast in his exaltation so too is it difficult for a rich man to boast of his humiliation. The danger for a wealthy man is that he trusts in his things more than he trusts in G-d (Prov 30:8-9). It takes a mature believer to rightly be a G-dly steward of wealth.
· As a flower of the field, he will pass away: Wisdom is the ability to focus on temporal things from an eternal perspective.
v11: Sun…heat: These go together and are part of the created and natural order of things.
· Sun rises: Another day is at hand. Time passes and there is decay. Things wear out and change with time, but not G-d! He transcends time.
· Its flower falls: Even though the source of the flower might last longer this blossom has a very short life expectancy. This is revealing to us that although this world might continue for a while we will soon fall away (die). Eventually, too, this world will also pass away.
· Beautiful – fades quickly from a visual standpoint.
· Perishes: Is destroyed. The effects of this world, which is stained with sin, brings about destruction.
· His Pursuits: His ways. When the wealthy man is interested in, and follows, his own ways, and not G-d’s ways, he will quickly fade away, wear out, suffer lack.
Note: What we have seen is that G-d makes a distinction between a humble individual and a prideful individual. G-d is going to bring low those who are proud, and they are going to experience eternal destruction. However, the outcome is very different for the one who is humble and who trusts G-d.