Read: James 1:1-27
Consider: James’ letter contains a wealth of good advice for living out our faith day-by-day. It is worthwhile reading in its entirety and I would commend this to you. As you read James 1 today make a note of anything that the Holy Spirit brings to mind. If you are using an electronic reader, highlight any verses that speak to you.
We’ve spoken before in earlier posts about how our perspective needs to change so that we see all our experiences (good and bad) from God’s perspective. Today’s chosen verses from James 1 start with the words ‘Consider it pure joy …‘ (v2). The question we are all tempted to ask James is ‘How can we ever see trials and testing as reasons for being joyful?’ James is clear in his view that trials and testing are not ends in themselves; testing produces perseverance.
The dictionary definition of perseverance is ‘persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success’. I particularly like how one dictionary gives perseverance the meaning of ‘staying power’. When being tested we need to remember that the test is not meant to break us, but to strengthen us. God’s ultimate purpose is to make us stronger in our faith and to be more Christlike.
Another theme found in James 1 is to do with putting God’s Word into practice in our lives. In James 1:22 we read: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Reading the Bible is not meant to salve our consciences, but to encourage and challenge us. If you read the Bible so that you can tick a box and make you feel good, then you have missed the point.
Listen to how James 1:23-25 puts it: Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do. When you look in the mirror it is generally for a purpose. It might help you adjust your clothing, or to brush your hair. So it is with Scripture. We need to read and study the Bible so that we can learn what God expects of us and how he wants us to live. James’ concern is for those who look and forget. If we merely read the Bible and then forget what we have read it achieves nothing. Putting what we read into practice is what is required.
As you read James 1 today, what do you need to put into practice in your life?
Pray: Father, we thank you that you use all our experiences to test our faith and to produce perseverance in us. May we read Scripture prayerfully, asking you to encourage and challenge us. Most of all we pray that we may put what we learn into practice in our lives. Amen