James Offers Theology – The Letter of James, Part One

Anxiety, depression, worry, and doubt — these are what many of us deal with when trials come our way. In the midst of life’s circumstances we have a tendency to forget who God is and who we are in Him. To encourage us to ask God for wisdom in those times, the letter of James offers theology reminding us of what God is like. In 1:5, James writes that his readers should ask God for wisdom in times of adversity because He gives generously to all and gives without finding fault.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jas 1:5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

David Powlison puts it like this, “Wisdom is always living wisdom, conditioned by the times in which people live. Christian truth is eternal truth, but it is never timeless truth. It is always timely truth, addressed to specific people facing specific problems. It is not an assemblage of disembodied propositions, abstract principles, nameless and placeless verities. Almost every page of Scripture contains the names of specific people, places, and circumstances. That’s for a reason. Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, is forever meeting us, whoever we are right where we are.” Time after time, this is who God has shown himself to be!

Discerning right from wrong is not always easy. Wrong thinking produces wrong actions. In our sinfulness, we often approach God with distress and confusion and we have problems sorting out what is lurking in our very hearts. Right thinking focuses on God and our spiritual position in him because of the gospel. In humility, we are to boast in the position we have before God (1:9-11). James writes in 1:16-18 that God’s goodness is unchanging, undeserved, and unending.

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jas 1:9–11). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

What happens when we endure trials for the sake of Christ (1:12)? Because we love God, we choose to love God and act on faith when things get difficult. His Word has given us all we need to endure hard times and live a godly life, focusing on what is real and true. He alone is the source of all blessing.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (2 Pe 1:3). (2016). Crossway Bibles.

The letter of James is a reminder that every perfect gift comes from above and that it is with this we can keep in mind that God has saved us from our sin. Jesus Christ has given us eternal life and will most certainly see us through our sorrows. His intention in both trials and temptations is to grow us to maturity while deepening our faith. We can rest in knowing that despite our shortcomings, God loves us and is renewing us in the image of Jesus.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jas 1:16–18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

We must choose the path that keeps us away from doubt and worry. The right path leads us toward faith. Think about your major failings in times of adversity. What actions could you change the next time troubles come? Where might you make adjustments that would prevent you from sinning? Overcoming sin happens when we choose not to open the doors that lead to it. Jesus tells us to pray (Matt. 6:13). Pray that God would help you gain discernment.

For further study: Read James Chapter One.