The Letter of James describes a very practical faith. It has to do with money, worry, trials and troubles, how we speak to one another, and how we treat less fortunate people. James tells us as much as any where in the Bible how to live out a practical faith – – the kind of faith that takes you through every experience of life.
We are not totally sure who wrote the Letter of James nor are we sure when the letter was written.
If this James was the half brother of our Lord and the leader of the church in Jerusalem, the letter probably was written about A.D. 46. This would make the Letter of James the earliest New Testament writing.
Notice what James saw as imperative for believers. He called them to live out a practical faith.
What does James tell us to do?
First, he tells us to get a handle on difficult times. We all experience the difficulties of life. Not only do we experience them, we also all wonder about them. We want to know why this happened and why it happened to me.
While not giving the reason for suffering – – the Bible never reveals that – – James gave us a way of looking at suffering. He told us that God uses everything that happens to us for good.
James said we could actually count our troubles as joy, knowing that God would do miraculous things with our difficulties. Our trouble produces in us patience and patience produces steadfastness. At the conclusion of that process, our character would be much more conformed to the image of Christ.
That process prepares us for life today and for eternal life to come.
Second, James tells us to get a right perspective about God.
As I deal with people, it becomes very clear that few people know God as He really is. James obviously saw the same need. He tells us to understand that God is good and that He is gracious.
James gives us two specific things about God. First, God is good. He does not sin, and he is not tempted to sin. Nor does God tempt us to sin.
James says that God is unchanging and consistent. You can count on God. He is the same yesterday today and forever.
The second thing James tells us about God is that He is the supreme giver of all good gifts. God desires to bless us immensely.
James unique and amazing perspective about God assures us that we are not alone and that God is for us. He never fails us. He will always be there for us.
Third, James tells us to live out our faith in the real world. Don’t just talk about faith; live your faith. Don’t simply be a hearer or speaker of God’s word. Be a doer of it.
Paul told the church at Philippi to “work out their own salvation.” He didn’t mean to work for their salvation but to let their salvation work itself out in a needy and hurting world.
How different life can be when we get a right perspective on life, on God, and on how we can touch our world with our faith.
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