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1:1-18 LIFE’S TRIALS AND DIFFICULTIES
James’ readers are scattered over the area of the early church’s expansion (1:1), but no matter where they live, they share the same responsibilities as Christians everywhere. One of these responsibilities requires them to do something that by nature is very difficult, namely, face the trials of life with joy. This joy comes through the knowledge that trials help believers to develop endurance and so strengthen their Christian character (2-4).
When faced with problems, believers often do not know what to do for the best. God understands and gladly gives wisdom to those who ask for it, so that they can make the correct decisions (5). However, he does not give it to those who have confidence in their own wisdom, who doubt his ability to help, or who have no desire for the character that he wants to produce (6-8).
In the churches to which James wrote, some were rich, others poor. James assures them that there will be no problem of mixing with each other in true fellowship if all realize that through Christ they have equal status before God. The poor as well as the rich have a high position in Christ; the rich as well as the poor must humble themselves in coming to Christ. People are foolish to seek eagerly after financial status, for it has no lasting value (9-11).
Those who meet trials in the right attitude will grow in their understanding and enjoyment of the life God has given them (12). It is important to recognize the difference between the outward trial and the inward temptation. When people are experiencing trials, they can easily be tempted to do wrong and then blame God for their failure. God can neither tempt nor be tempted, because he is holy (13). Giving in to temptation prevents people from experiencing the sort of life that God intended for them. In the end it brings disaster (14-15).
Far from tempting to do evil, God is the source of all good. The light from the sun, the moon and the stars varies from hour to hour, but God who created them never changes. Likewise in matters concerning his children he never varies. He never desires evil, but always desires good (16-17). He wants them to be perfect, the finest creatures in all his creation, just as the grain that the Israelites offered was the finest in all their fields (18).
1:19-2:26 PUTTING BELIEF INTO PRACTICE
The Bible and everyday life (1:19-27)
A tendency in human nature is for people to become ill-tempered, especially in times of difficulty or stress. Christians must not excuse their ill-temper by claiming that they are defending God’s honour. Such attitudes have no place in the Christian life. They must be replaced by new attitudes that arise from studying God’s Word and putting its teachings into practice (19-21).
Christians must not merely read God’s Word, but must do what it says. The Word is a ‘law’ that they must obey, but it is a law that sets them free, not one that makes them slaves. It is a law of liberty. Christians obey it not because they are forced to, but because they want to. When a person looks in a mirror and sees dirt on his face, he is not forced to wash his face, but it is natural that he should want to (22-25).
While some people thought their new religion meant that they could ignore the commands of the Bible, others thought that it required them to be stricter in obeying laws than they were before. This latter group prided themselves that they were very religious because of their law-keeping. James points out that the truly religious people are those who control their speech and express their faith in acts of kindness. At the same time they are careful not to copy the wrong behaviour of the society in which they live (26-27).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on James 1". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
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