A Study In James by Pastor Sam Butler
Let’s begin our study of the book of James.
Do you drink tea? Let’s consider the difference between a strong cup of tea and a weak cup of tea. The same ingredients are used for both: water and tea. Hers’ the difference: a strong cup of tea results from the tea leaves being in the water longer, which allows the water more time to get into the tea and the tea into the water. The longer this process, the stronger the cup of tea.
Similarly, the amount of time we spend in God’s Word determines how deeply we get into it and how deeply it gets into us. I encourage you to commit yourself to the discipline of study. Let’s get into some background and set some context. Okay, here we go.
First, let’s consider the writer himself. We want to differentiate between James the author of this letter and some of the other men mentioned in the NT with the same name. This is James the Lord’s half brother. They had the same mother (Mary) but Jesus of course was conceived of the Holy Spirit. He is the natural son of Mary and Joseph after their marriage. Read Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; and Galatians 1:19. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Many in Jesus’ own family did not believe in Him as the Messiah. Read John 7:2-8. Go ahead, I’ll wait again.
In the previous chapter (John 6:66) many of those following Jesus stopped following Him. Add to this the disbelief of His own family. How sad. The ones who should have known Him best did not believe in Him. But, there did come a time when James was converted. He is numbered with those who “went up into an upper room” before the event on the day of Pentecost.
Today we’ll consider James 1:1-3. I suggest that you read the first chapter in its entirety, and then the passage we’re going to delve into. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
In verse one James identifies himself as “a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Here’s the first question I want you to answer: What does it mean to be a servant of God? Most of us have heard that this refers to a “bond slave.” The background of this practice can be found in Exodus chapter 21. Read verses 5 and 6. You know the drill: I’ll wait. Now tell me what that says about our relationship to God.
James identifies those he’s writing to as “the twelve tribes which are scatted abroad.” He calls them “brethren” in verse 2, so we believe he’s writing to Christians who have been the objects of persecution. Imagine the pressure these saints lived under. Many of them were dealing with issues not of their own making. He says they “fell” into these trails. (“Temptations” in the KJV) Their only “crime” was being a follower of Christ. Question: How does this relate to us today? Socially? Politically? Religiously?
In spite of it all, James exhorts them to “count it all joy.” Another question: How do you consider the trails in your life? How do we cope with the external circumstances we are often faced with? I think verse 3 has the answer: “Knowing” something.
Satan’s temptations (I never capitalize satan’s name. That’s just a personal thing) are design to make us sin. He comes to steal, kill and destroy. When God allows our faith to be tested the intended result is to strengthen us and give us endurance.
Are you being tested? In your marriage? On your job? At school? At church? Know this: God wants you to come out of it stronger in your faith towards Him. Once I am convinced of God’s intentions, I can breathe a sigh of relief even in the middle of my circumstance.
That’s all for now. I think you have enough to chew on. God bless, and thanks for spending some time in the Word with me.