Friday, May 18, 2018

James, part 1, Faith, Obedience and Righteousness

Photo by Olivia Snow on Unsplash



It is generally believed that the New Testament book of James was written by James, the half-brother of Jesus. He wrote to the twelve tribes which were scattered so it is assumed that he was writing to Christian Jews who had dispersed after the persecution. James’ theme is that religious service is the expression and proof of faith, that is, faith produces works. Faith is shown by the outward acts of obedience and righteousness.
Let’s start with chapter 1: 1 – 8:
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.
 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
James writes to the 12 tribes, the Jews, who were scattered; hence they are Christian Jews, who fled after the Dispersion. Read 1: 13 – 15:
 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
This is interesting since we pray the Lord’s prayer asking Him not to lead us into temptation. Here James says that God does not tempt anyone. How do we reconcile the two verses? In Matthew 6:13 we pray that God not lead us into “peirasmos,” the Greek word we translate as temptation. It is a state of experiencing adversity or affliction that we endure and in which we should be able to trust God and prove our faith as well as our confidence in the Lord. (Would you rather say Lead us not into temptation  or Lead us not into a state of experiencing adversity or affliction that we endure and in which we should be able to trust you and prove our faith as well as our confidence in you?)
James 1: 19 – 21 says:
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Read that again: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.