In this first chapter of James the writer challenges readers to consider aspects of faith that surround the ethics of our faith. The theme emerging in this passage considers the positive and negative sides of ones belief. We note that trial is always part of life and temptation is always part of life, but James calls the believer to be steadfast in faith when tempted. He argues that as we are tested, faith can produce endurance that leads to a life fulfilled. He also contends that uncontained desire leads to sin and spiritual death.
James goes on to tell his readers four things he wants them to be sure of, so they will not be deceived but work toward an evolving pattern of thought to aid them in their faithfulness.
1. To know the origin of what is good (17-18)
“every act of giving,.. every perfect gift…is from God”
2. To know the style of a righteous life (19-21)
”be quick to listen.. slow to speak.. slow to anger.. and welcome with meakness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.”
3. To know the necessity of active devotion (22-25)
”be doers of the word, and not merely hearers of the word… they will be blessed in their doing.”
4. To know the qualities of religion that is pure and undefiled before God (26-27)
”care for the orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself unstained by the world.”
Throughout his letter James advocates a vigorous and disciplined moral existence. He teaches that the believer is continuously engaged in the struggle between the temptation of doing wrong and doing what is right. He exhorts his readers to listen for the word that has the power to lead the believer to action that generates a life of faith, ‘a kind of first fruits of God’s creation’.
Prayer: May I be quick to listen and welcome with meekness the word that has power to change lives and generate the first fruits of your creation. Amen.
Rev Colleen Grieve. Longford UCA