The writer of this letter identifies himself as James and is believed to have been James the brother of Jesus who was later also the leader of the Jerusalem council.
As we found in Hebrews, the letter appears to be addressed primarily to Jewish Christians in the early days of the church somewhere around AD 50 to 60 possibly a little earlier, with the address to the twelve tribes scattered across the nations although some translations are more inclusive with the address being to all Gods people.
James addresses the readers throughout as brothers reflecting a gentle, loving but firm approach.
He begins with an encouragement to endure through the difficult times that they faced. We face difficult times through our lives and as a Christian community many are finding increasing prejudice, oppression and persecution just as the early disciples and Christians did.
Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (v4)
He shows that these things serve to strengthen our faith and by enduring through them, allows God to complete his redeeming work in us.
We should pray for wisdom in these situations but also believe that God will answer and not have doubts otherwise we are in danger of being tossed about in our faith and be unable to make up our minds.
We are again reminded to be content within whatever situation we find ourselves in, whether rich or poor. In fact James seems to think that the rich are worse off as they risk losing everything.
Happy are those who remain faithful under trials, because when they succeed in passing such a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love him (v12)
We touched a little on this in Hebrews 6 where the writer speaks about keeping on until the end and not giving up so that we receive the promised reward at the end.
Verses 13 through to 15 I think are extremely important to us;
If people are tempted by such trials, they must not say “This temptation comes from God” for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. (v13)
James is very strong in his words here, this is an important reminder to us that it is Satan who tempts, not God. We must not try to blame God for our own failure to be obedient to him and trust him, we are to ask him for wisdom and help when in situations where we feel tempted. Satan tried to tempt Jesus but Jesus knew Gods word and used it to rebuke him. He was allowed to try and tempt Job only within set limits by God. God may allow us to be tempted but he himself does not tempt us. God did not put temptation in front of the Israelites to go off and follow other Gods or be disobedient. They were more than capable of creating things themselves by giving in to earthly desires and impatience.
Verse 14 and 15 explain that it is our own natural desires which allow us to be drawn away by such temptation which then leads to sin and then death. We have a choice to be strong and endure with Gods help.
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters! Every Good gift and perfect present comes from heaven (v16 &17)
God is the creator of light, he does not change.
We must listen carefully to his instruction, submitting to him and the word that he gives us.
Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to his word; instead. put it into practice. Whoever listens to the word but does not put it into practice is like a man who looks in a mirror and sees himself as he is. He takes a good look at himself and then goes away and at once forgets what he looks like (v22-24)
Again as in Hebrews, we are reminded that we must act upon his word, to live out our faith and be obedient to him, enduring to the end. If we do so we have the promise of God’s blessing and reward.
But those who look closely into the perfect law that sets people free, who keep on paying attention to it and do not simply listen and then forget it, but put it into practice – they will be blessed by God in what they do (v25)
So we are to be listeners and doers of the word.
Quotes from The Good News Bible.