As I first began to dig deeper into James, the history of the book has a criticism or historical critique that James seems to be random & as a whole without a distinct purpose or story, along the same lines of Proverbs. This really stuck with me for some reason & when I began to think about how to approach this series, I came back to digging through it as 5 separate lessons or purposes. So for October, we will take James apart a chapter at a time & find out & dig into 1 central theme of each book. This week, chapter 1.
One of the things I noticed with Chapter 1 was a distinct positive & negative relationship though out. For everything persevered as negative by the world, God flips it on its head & it is actually a positive. Let’s start with verse 2- thefirst thing we come to is facing trials, hardships, tests, etc. The world would say these are a bad things. Life is unpleasant when things are bad. Who wants to be tested or endure hardships? Not many. But if you look at verse 3, James tells us our testing produces perseverance. Some translations say patience & others steadfastness or endurance. So the next time you face a trial you be able to better withstand what life sends your way. That’s a good thing. That is what perseverance is. What the world says is bad, God tells us to consider it joy because of the opportunity we have to develop & grow in our faith. If we stay the course & keep our eyes firmly focused on God, our faith & walk will be stronger when we come out of the trial.
So now let’s look at verse 5. In general a lack of wisdom is a bad thing but James tells us in the same verse if we lack wisdom all we have to do is ask for it & not only will God give it to us, but He will give it to us generously. Matthew 7:7 confirms this
“ask, and it will be given to you, seek & you shall find, knock & it will be opened to you”
Verse 9 & 10 really flip the positive & negative theme in a different direction too. In this world, being rich is good. It is sought after, desired, & worked toward. Being poor is looked down on. It’s a scary thing. However this is not the case biblically. Verse 9 takes what the world sees as bad & turns it into a positive, by telling us we should be blessed to be of humble circumstance. A man who lives in a humble place in life only has one thing to boast in….God. They can only boast in the blessings of God, that’s not a shabby place to be.
Lastly, let’s look at verse 12. But first think back to verse 2 quickly: trials are not fun & while we are to consider them joy because of what they produce, it in no way means it is fun or the equivalent of laughing in a field of daisies. God, though, tells us to persevere—hang on–because that perseverance, that unwavering fish, leads to the ultimate prize of our Christian Faith….the crown of life…heaven.
This concept of positive & negative & the flipping of how we see things from a Biblical perspective makes me think of Romans 8:28-
“and we know that all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
The bible will always confirm the bible & that thought is continued in Isaiah 55:10-13:
“as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out of my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the the bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of rivers the myrtle will grow. This will be the Lord’s renown, for the everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.”
So the next time you think the bad is exclusively bad, just remember God’s word does not return void.