19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

We have come to our final devotion in our James Summer Study. Our passage today is a beautiful reminder of the gospel’s power and our great commission as followers of Christ.


Verse 19 begins with the notion of a person wandering from the truth. What does this mean? James is pointing to the person who may have been caught by deception through false teachings or led astray by their own desires. To fall away from the truth is to pursue anything and everything that works against the truth of scripture. In every case, it is that a person has slowly decayed down a path of sinfulness. It could be indulgence in one particular sin or entertaining many kinds of temptations. Like a sheep that has gone astray into dangerous terrain, this person has wandered from the safety guards of God’s truth. They are in dire need of help and rescue.


As brothers and sisters in Christ, it is our responsibility to love our siblings in the Lord. If we should see or sense error in the life of someone close to us, we are to take action. What does this involve? I believe the Scripture gives us many ways in which we can turn someone from error. Jesus spoke in Matthew 18 by telling us to confront the person privately first, which means we do not need to broadcast this error to everyone. Paul writes in Galatians 6:1 that we should restore someone with a spirit of gentleness and humility. The encouragement here is that we do not sweep sin under the rug but rather we seek God for wisdom in dealing with it.


Now, at this point many of us are wondering if this will ever go well. We all know that we ourselves have gone astray and are not perfect, why should we then try to correct another? I want us to remember that the specific person we are restoring in this matter is one who is well on their way to danger and destruction. Therefore, your word of encouragement can in a literal sense, save their lives from death as verse 20 points out. Although many of us would stray away from such a task, if we truly love the Lord and His people, we will take action to see those return back into the fold.


If we need any final encouragements on this high calling, let us remember how the Good Shepherd sought us in our journey. Though our sins had hardened us and pulled us into deep darkness, the prince of peace stopped at nothing to rescue His own. He endured all suffering and hardship to win our souls back to the Father. And even beyond our salvation, Jesus Christ has never stopped pursuing our hearts. How much grace has He relentlessly lavished upon us? Have we not woken up to new mercies every morning? When the Lord could have allowed us all to walk astray from His truth, He chose to save us. If such a gospel has power to save a sinner like me, then surely the grace of God can be extended to that brother or sister in their deep trouble. Let us run after those who wander and love them back into the loving arms of Jesus Christ.



Lord, you know that this task is no simple one. It will demand wisdom and discernment. But Father, if you are calling me to help those in trouble, equip me with your love and grace. Teach me to be as merciful as you are. Teach me to be as patient as you are. And give me the strength to do all that you require of me.


13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

Our passage today is one that is extremely vital to our walk with the Lord. Not simply for personal application but more so because it applies to our connection to God’s church.


The passage begins with a corporate instruction to the entire church body. It brings to mind that we must not always be consumed with our own personalized Christianity. We all fit into the body of Christ and therefore we have a responsibility to look after one another (1 Corinthians 12:27). When we discover that a brother or sister is in need or facing a trouble, we should encourage them to pray. When we see that they are happy, they should sing a song of praise to the Lord. This is the same as Paul’s encouragement in Romans 12:15 which is to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. In this manner, we can bear each other’s burdens as we love one another (Galatians 6:2).


This is all to get to the main emphasis of the passage which is prayer. There is not a circumstance of life that needs to be void of prayer. Specifically, James points to what might be the most prayed for item on our prayer list, health. The Lord understand our constant need for health and wellness. Our human bodies are cursed by sin and therefore we are often at the feet of the Lord asking for His healing power over our lives. James reminds us that we do not have to go through these troubles alone. He has graciously gifted the leadership of the church to be available in these moments of weakness. They are to surround that person in prayer and anoint them with oil to signify God’s promises.


Now, this is not meant to be some sort of religious duty performed by church leaders because we want to force the hand of God. James states that it is the prayer offered in faith that will make the sick person well. Therefore, the act of coming to the church elders and abiding in their prayers demonstrates a deep sense of faith and trust in God. James even goes a step further and points us beyond the physical need to our true spiritual need. We cannot discount the reality of indwelling sin in our lives in midst of our sicknesses. Could God be getting our attention in the middle of these troubles? It is very possible. So, while we are petitioning to God for healing, we should also seek the full revival of the Lord by confessing and repenting of our sins. In renouncing our sins and receiving the righteousness of Christ, we have opened the way for God’s answer. Proverbs 15:29 states that the Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. And these prayers, offered in faith and righteousness are powerful and effective.


I love the final encouragement James brings on the topic of prayer. He points us to Elijah who was merely a human being like you and I and the Lord answered his earnest prayers. The Bible at no point tell us to manifest our destiny and claim what we want to happen. The true believer kneels humbly before the throne of God. They recognize how powerless they truly are, and they reach out to the Lord with their requests. They leave it in His hands and wait for Him to work. May we be such a people.



Lord, you are a present help in my times of need. Help me Lord, to be anxious for nothing and instead come to you with all kinds of prayer requests. For it is then that I know that the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.


12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.

We are in the final week of our James Summer Study. We will look into some final thoughts from the heart of James. Today, he places a seemingly odd teaching in the middle of the last chapter. However, it is yet beneficial for all of us to hear.


The idea of making an oath or swearing by something was something done quite often in Bible times. It is even still a practice that we use in our own modern day. However, the scriptures offer strict warnings about making these kinds of oaths. In fact, James is almost quoting an exact reference from Jesus’ teaching from Matthew 5:33-37. Therefore, we not only have these statements from James, but we also have it from our Lord, Himself.


In our day, we often make these oaths in order to really demonstrate to someone that we will keep our promise. It’s used as a more dramatic way to convince someone that we will be true to our word and we will do whatever it is that we said we would do. You might think that there is nothing wrong with this. Isn’t it good to keep our promises? Isn’t it better that we hold fast to our word? The issue that God has with oaths is not in making promises. His issue is that if we even have to go to an extent of making an oath, it already declares that we might be dishonest people.


Let us consider this for a moment. If you and I must go to the extent of swearing by heaven or by the earth or even on the Lord, then it may mean we have a reputation of not keeping our promises. Making such oaths is similar to saying “trust me, I really mean it this time”. The Lord is displeased with this practice. True Christians are people of honesty, integrity and commitment. We are to bear the fruit of faithfulness by following through on all that we say. If for some reason we do not follow through, then we will confess our wrongdoing and seek forgiveness. We should not need an oath to move us to take our word seriously. We have read previously in James the power of our word and we know that God will hold us accountable to what we have said. Therefore, we have an opportunity to display something different to this broken world filled with empty promises and unfulfilled oaths. We have a way of life that is better and much more honorable.


Both James and the Lord, Jesus provide us the simple answers to give whenever we need to make a promise or commitment. All you and I have to say is a simple “yes” or “no.” We do not need to dramatize the matter with elaborate promises. With wisdom and discernment, we simply acknowledge the other person with our “yes” or “no.” This new practice teaches each one of us to live an honest and consistent life. The last thing a Christian should be known for is someone who cannot be trusted or who has a reputation of falling through on their commitments. We serve a God who always keeps His promises and so we ought to make every effort to become like Him in all we do.



Have I created a bad habit of being unreliable? Can others depend on me to keep my word and follow through on my commitments? Lord, search my heart today and help me to live up to the high calling you have for me in Christ Jesus.


7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

As we near the conclusion of our James Summer Study, we also have the privilege to reflect upon the end of our days as believers. James would like to offer each of us an encouragement in keeping the faith and making it until the very end. What is the very end that he has in mind for us? It is none other than the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.


As confident as we are in the rising of the sun every morning and setting same every evening, is precisely how sure we can be in the return of Christ. However, since none of us know the exact hour of His coming, we need constant encouragement in the waiting. James begins in verse 7 by instructing us to wait with patience. The kind of patience is compared to the farmer who patiently and persistently waits for the land to yield its crops. It is not a waiting that is to be filled with agony but rather hopeful anticipation. Just as the farmer looks to the visible change in seasons and the provisions of weather, so the believer can know the signs of the time. And when we see all things in the world, foretold by the scriptures, we can know that each new day is one step closer to the return of our Lord.


How easy it is for us to allow the weight of the world to impress upon our weary souls. Although the Bible teaches us that we are but foreigners in this land, here for a short journey and then gone to our true home, we still are tempted to take residence here. We all try and find some solace in the earth and an abiding peace in flesh and bone. But James is shouting the reminder into our ear, the coming our Lord is closer than you know! Pack your things, take your stance at the gate, awake from your sleep! Don’t you know that we cannot stay here? As verse 9 states, we get caught up in these insignificant conflicts with people, spending our remaining days grumbling in bitter complaints. Our king and our judge is standing at the door. What have we made with the time He has allotted to us?


If we need further encouragement today to use our waiting period as an opportunity for Christ, let us consider what James proposes in verses 10 through 11. We have the Lord’s prophets to look back on who through many sufferings had a joyful anticipation of the coming redemption. Each one looked so far ahead in eager hope that God would fulfill all His promises. And today, if you would find yourself overwhelmed by trials and heavily broken down by life’s turmoil, the Lord reminds us of His servant Job. A man in the Old Testament whom God tested and tried for His own purposes. From the mouth of Job within his own sufferings and pain he speaks, “though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15). Hear the Word of the Lord today: God is full of compassion and mercy. He will work everything together for the good of His people (Romans 8:28). Every trouble and tribulation will turn out for your deliverance as you trust in the Lord (Philippians 1:19). For those who put all their trust in Him will never be put to shame (Psalm 25:3). It is within these glorious promises that we find all strength to make it until the very end.



Thank you, Lord for the precious reminder of your soon return. Help me to use this time you have graciously given me to love you more fervently and to give myself over to the glory of your kingdom. Fill me with patience and fill me with joy until you lead me safely home.


Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

Today, we begin our final chapter in the book of James. He will offer a few final remarks to help strengthen the daily life of the believer.


This passage is directed toward the non-believing rich rulers of James’ time. Although it seems unrelated, it still remains a warning to each one of us. He speaks like a prophet in these verses by reminding these people of their coming doom and misery. These rich oppressors behaved like dictators and enslaved their workers without compensating them. This was a gross injustice at the highest level. It was not simply a greedy rich person, but an oppressor who maliciously took advantage of the poor and broken. The Lord is greatly displeased with such people.


What should we take away from such a passage? I do not want us to think that the Bible is condemning all of those who are wealthy and rich. There are many godly examples of those who have honored the Lord faithfully with their money. This passage, however, is a warning to a deeper heart issue. It is more than just a caution about money, it is also about power. Power grants to a person a high level of control which can be used to abuse and violate people. It is an indulgence in self at the expense of ruining other people. It is gaining luxury and using it as a means to exert more and more power. We have seen this kind of abuse in our workplaces and tragically even within the church. We must take every step to be nowhere near these kinds of temptations.


How should we avoid this evil heart posture? How can we balance stewarding our money and not lusting for more power? I believe Jesus grants to us the greatest principle to ever govern our life in this respect. Paul refers to this teaching in Acts 20:35 “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” This single sentence, if obeyed and cherished, will save each of us from the dangers of worldly wealth. The blessing of God upon our lives is in our ability to use all that we have in order to benefit others. Do you have an excess of money today? Think about how you can testify about Christ by your generosity. Do you have an excess of time today? Think about how you might honor the Lord by serving others. Do you have a unique gifting or skill? Think upon whom can benefit today from your act of blessing.  


God is never against us having money and resources. However, every believer should know very well that it is the Lord who has given us the ability to gain such wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). Therefore, the treasure that we hold truly belongs to God Himself. We have a duty from the Lord to be generous on every occasion, never hoarding our wealth to ourselves (2 Corinthians 9:11). We should start this practice by firstly rendering to God an offering from our wealth (2 Corinthians 9:7). Then, we should ensure that we have enough to provide for our own families (1 Timothy 5:8). Lastly, we should consider what extra we have that might be a blessing to a neighbor. When wealth is used for God’s glory, we become participants in His gracious work.



Lord, today I reflect upon my own life. All that I have, no matter how little or much it is, has been graciously loaned to me by your hand of mercy. Show me how I might honor you with the things I have. And keep me from the love of money and power.


13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

As we approach the end of James chapter 4, let us stay within the mindset of seeking humility and rejecting pride. Our passage today offers a crushing reminder of how we ought to steward the gift of life given to us by the Lord.


The opening statements from James seem to be harsh and overly intense from an initial reading. He appears to be talking about a very normal thought process to human beings. We plan our days and mark out our events on the calendar. What could be so wrong about that? I believe James is digging into a deeper spiritual reality that we almost never take into consideration. We are all guilty of segmenting our lives into activities that relate to God and then activities that relate to us. We assume our business or work efforts rarely concern the Lord. We imagine that God cares very little where we travel and how we will make our money. We leave the super spiritual events to be all about the Lord and then live as though the rest of our daily lives mean nothing to Him. James declares that this mindset cannot of course dwell in the believer.


Verse 16 exposes to us what this simple human thought process really means. It is essentially us declaring to God that we are in ultimate control of our lives. We know best how to spend our time. We know best where we should travel and how we should go about our business. We are all tempted to almost keep God at the church so that He will not bother us throughout the week. Such thinking, no matter how innocent it starts, will always produce a kind of arrogance. It is boasting in our own fleshly confidence. It is to naïvely think that everything will go according to my own predetermined plans. And in all of that James knocks us off our feet and says that we don’t even have any assurance that tomorrow will play out in our favor. We can make too much of our life and lifestyles and trap ourselves in selfish living. For this deception verse 14 tells us that we should remember that we are only but a mist, here for a short while and then gone.


How then should we think about our lives? Verse 15 provides the answer. James does not say that we need to get rid of all of our planning and throw away all of our calendars. He simply instructs us to apply the name of the Lord to all that we might endeavor to do. There is something special that occurs when we say, “if the Lord wills”. Every time we apply His name first, we are essentially examining all of our plans to see whether or not it is in line with the will of God. His name is the filter to our daily activity. Each planned event now becomes a prayer request submitted into the hand of the master. We now rethink how we might accomplish our plans. We now must think if this event or that business venture is wise and pleasing to the Lord. In this small act, the Lord gains every right to invade the spaces and places of our lives.


We know that this is what God ultimately desires for us. Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that will prevail (Proverbs 19:21). A man may chart his course, but it is the Lord that establishes his steps (Proverbs 16:9). Therefore, if God is deeply intertwined into the ebb and flow of life, every step can be and must be surrendered fully to Him.



Lord, I am reminded today that you know my ways. You know when I rise and when I fall. You are completely aware of all my doings. Help me to do what is right and pleasing in your eyes. Help me to trust you with my future. Help me to acknowledge you in all my ways.


11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Today we receive another practical instruction from the heart of James. He will remind us in just two verses who is to be the true judge of creation.


To summarize what is being presented in the passage, James seems to be specifically referring to the religious tendencies of the Jewish culture. They would condemn others for not being as “obedient” to the law as they claimed to be. We see this attitude in the pharisees and other Jewish leaders within the gospels. They walk around with a deep sense of self-righteousness and they go about their day slandering others who are not as “religious” as they are. It was never about keeping the law of God nor honoring Him as a righteous judge. Instead, they dethroned the Lord and instituted themselves as judges so that they could be highly exalted in the society while ruling over others. Jesus, the true judge, had strong words of condemnation over these people which you can read in the whole chapter of Matthew 23.


How does this bear relevance to us today? I believe it refers back to our recurring thoughts on pride and humility. There are tendencies within God’s people to become more and more self-righteous the longer we are Christians. We begin to add extra rules upon people that really have no basis in the Bible. We only do this so that we can exalt ourselves as more righteous than them. In doing so, we make ourselves the judge of their salvation and sanctification. We may see someone come to church not dressed the way we would like them to. We might boast that we give more money to the offering than others. We let others know about all of our serving endeavors. We even have to let people know about how long we pray and read our Bibles. We do this all while pointing the finger at those who are not exactly like us.


James is not speaking here about holding each other accountable. We must lovingly and gently steer our brothers and sisters toward the good deeds of the faith (Galatians 6:1-2). We should do this in grace and with as much patience that father grants to us every day. However, this passage is more clearly exposing the person who has rejected the true lawgiver and the whole heart behind the law: love. To criticize and slander those who are trying to work out their salvation, is to insult the law of love. Don’t we remember our own journey with the Lord and how patient He has been? Is not God sovereignly in control of all His children and working in them a righteousness of His own? Our role as brothers and sisters, is not to make it harder for people to know Christ. We are to graciously hold their hand as they make their way toward Him.


We’ve spoken much on this topic in previous devotions. Allow me just to further challenge our hearts today. Is there a person around you that you notice may be struggling in their walk with God? Have you noticed in all honesty that they might be straying away from the truth? There are two things we should do. First, sit before the Lord and remove the log from within our own eyes so that we can know we are seeing properly (Matthew 7:1-5). Search your own heart before searching a brother’s. Then, you will have the grace and mercy that Christ gave to you in order to help that person in their trouble. May the Lord move our hearts in love and in deed today.



Lord, you have loved me more than I could ever know. You are patient with me, gracious to me and merciful to me. Help me extend to others the same love you continue to show me.


7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Our portion of scripture today is one that many of us might be familiar with. It is all about how we might work toward resisting the devil in our lives. He suggests that the main way this is achieved is in pure submission to God. If you recall verse 6 from our last devotion, James reminded us that “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble”. This Proverb portrays why we might struggle with submitting to God and ultimately how we often fall prey to the devil’s schemes. We should remember that it is not merely demons that become our main struggle. God is also pointing us to the fact that so very often it is our own prideful reliance on flesh that keeps us down and defeated. Therefore, the answer to resisting Satan is in rejecting our flesh and learning to submit to God in everything.


We dare not become too naïve about our Christian life. The enemy is always at work against the children of God. He is the lion that prowls around seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). If we should grant him even a foothold, he will use it and abuse it to weaken our faith (Ephesians 4:27). If the devil is this active in relentless abuse of the children of God, then how much more should we be strengthening our resistance of him? James is driving this point home in his letter. The answer is in true humility and submission. He moves on to explain what that looks like. 


Verse 8 declares that we should first draw near to God. This is the simple yet clear instruction from the Bible. We do not need to draw near to other people, or to a pastor or to something else. We need to position ourselves at the feet of Jesus Christ. It is there on bended knee that we realize how small we are and how truly great He really is. And when we make those small paces toward the Lord, we will then sense that His awesome presence will draw closer to us.


Now, what is it that we are to do at the feet of Christ? What does it mean to draw near to God? James continues to expand his instruction by providing to us a sequence of humbling behaviors. Firstly, we are to spiritually “wash our hands” which simply means to acknowledge the sinfulness of our actions. In the same manner, we are to purify our hearts because of our double mindedness in loving the world. What James is calling for is the dramatic posture of repentance. What keeps us from God and within the devil’s playground? The sheer lack of repentance. If we want to truly experience submission to God and escape the devil’s schemes, we must bow our heads in lowliness and confess to Christ who we are and what we have done. In fact, verse 9 says we should grieve for our sins, mourn and wail over them. We dare not experience the happiness and laughter of this world whilst our sins are left unrepented.


Dear brothers and sisters, this is true humility. This is how we defeat the devil. Not in loud rebukes and pleading the blood, but in humble confession of our own sins. When we repent every day, we proclaim the victory of Jesus Christ over Satan’s power at the cross. We render his attacks useless and we experience God’s comfort in the shadow of His wings. Humble yourselves before the Lord, for it is then that He promises to lift you up.



Lord, I confess to you my own lack of repentance. I often pray for the non-essential things and forget that truly, I am a sinner. Teach me humility and grant to me a contrite spirit. Work within my own heart a Godly sorrow and lead me in a closer walk with you (2 Corinthians 7:10).


4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud  but shows favor to the humble.” 

Our devotional today continues to address the raging battle we are all confronted with. Last time we saw the intense battle that burns within our hearts leading us into all kinds of sins. James will now point us to another battle that occurs from the outside. This is our wrestle with the world.


He begins verse 4 with a strong allegation against Christians by calling them an adulterous people. He is making reference here to the Old Testament idea of Israel becoming unfaithful to God by intermingling with evil nations and worshipping other idols. To love or render worship to something other than God is idolatry. In fact, this is the very first commandment given to Moses in Exodus 20. We are to have no other God besides the Lord and we are to never create an image that we worship. This would be adultery, or unfaithfulness and essentially “cheating” on God.


James points out that that our unfaithfulness begins when we hold a friendship with the world. If we are friends with the world, then we are enemies of God. You may think that this seems a little harsh as “friendship” is rarely seen as a negative thing to us. However, in the eyes of God we are not only never to have an intimate relationship with the world, but we cannot even dare to be mere friends with it. The “world” in the Bible is a picture of all that is opposed to God. To befriend the world is to tolerate the evil they love and enjoy the company of those who mock God (Psalm 1:1). It is to accept their sinful lifestyles and seek the highest pleasure in gratifying the desires of flesh. This world is invaded by the kingdom of darkness and ruled by satanic influence. Therefore, God will never allow His children to live in partnership with an entity that rivals His perfect holiness (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).


There are warnings about the world all over the New Testament. Jesus tells us that although we live in this world, we can never be of this world (John 17:14-15). John writes that we can never love the world nor anything in the world. For if we love the world, then we do not have any love for the father (1 John 2:15). The kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God are forever at odds with each other, and we must choose this day whom we will surrender to. Will it be to the God who loves us immeasurably and grants us eternal life? Or will it be to this world that has no eternal love for us but is in fact dying and fading away.


We all see and feel this battle every day. We are tempted to behave worldly like our non-believing family, friends and co-workers. It often seems easier to just operate in the flesh and do what everyone else is doing. However, James reminds each one of us that we have entered into a covenantal relationship with the almighty God. Therefore, no matter how strong the pull is toward the world, we are committed in our own vows to the one true Lord of our lives. We are forever pledged to be His bride and must sacrifice every worldly desire and person to prove our loyalty. He jealously longs for us to be committed to him and He has placed His own Spirit in us to remind us of that reality. Let us detach ourselves from this world and be united to Christ, our only Lord and saviour.



What worldly desires am I hiding in my heart? What are the external things tugging at my flesh constantly? I encourage you to make those things known to God. Pray and seek His deliverance.


What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

In our discussion today, James continues in line with similar thoughts from the previous chapter. We will learn from our passage that much of the outer struggle we face with others come almost exclusively from a raging battle within.


Verse 1 explicitly tells us that our quarrelling and our fighting has nothing to do with the other person or group. We are prone to blaming others and focusing our attention in proving their guilt and bringing them down. However, James stops us right in our tracks and says that the fight began within you long before it made its way out toward that other person.


In James' time, it became as horrible as killing and literal fighting which we read in verse 2. How do we get to this point? What pushes us to that edge? Peter tells us that these come from the fleshly lusts that wage war against our soul (1 Peter 2:11). Just as James noted back in chapter 1, our sin can drag us away and entice us toward the most vile words and cruel behaviour. In this passage, James is almost commenting on the childishness and immaturity of these people. They fight because they do not have what they want and so their flesh takes control, and the Spirit of God is grieved. Just as the drunkard loses all spiritual sensitivity in their intoxicated state, so is the person whose mind is completely governed by the flesh (Ephesians 5:18; Romans 8:5).


Just as little children try to satisfy their every desire on their own accord, so do some of us Christians. We will toil and we will war to gain what we want. However, the answer to all of this chaos and battling is given plainly at the end of verse 2. We do not have what we want because we do not ask God. Why should we depend on our sinful hearts to satisfy us? Why must we leave a trail of destruction behind us before we come to our senses? Why not run to the feet of our Father who enjoys nothing more than to lavish good gifts on His children?


We need to dramatically reframe how we go about our lives. This uncontrollable lifestyle proves to God that we have no true joy and satisfaction in Him. If we are willing, as the prodigal son was, to take the father’s inheritance and squander it on our pleasures, then we had no love for the Father to begin with. Ultimately, the battle will only be over, and the war finally silenced once we stop chasing our every fleeting desire. We must surrender our inner most being and give it at once to the Lord of our souls. We can’t miss what verse 3 warns. If we just want to use God as a genie in the bottle to spend what He gives us on our own pleasures, we will not receive anything from Him. Consider these questions today. Is God just the means to my selfish end? Is God just convenient to me? Do my pleasures matter more to me than pleasing God? And lastly, is God good enough to satisfy my every desire in His perfect will and His perfect timing?


I encourage you today, to run to your heavenly Father and find in Him the fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).



Lord, teach me not to cherish sin in my heart. Teach me to crucify the flesh and kill my evil desires. Satisfy the deep longings of my heart with your unfailing love.


17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

In our last devotion, we uncovered the destructive nature of pursuing worldly wisdom. We understand clearly that this kind of attitude has no place in God’s church. Today, we will meditate upon what it means to walk in wisdom “from above”. In just two verses, James gives to us eight benefits of seeking heavenly wisdom and we will briefly consider each of them.


James firstly tells us that God’s wisdom is pure. This means that it is not contaminated by earthly desires. This describes a person who seeks to apply God’s wisdom for the sake of simply honoring him, no other motivations. Secondly, God’s wisdom produces a peaceable character. In this case, we would know someone is sincerely wise if they would rather sacrifice themselves in order to bring peace to another. In other words, the truly wise person will not be in the centre of strife and arguments, but rather seeking unity at all costs. We might even be reminded of the words of Christ, blessed are the pure in heart and blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:8-9).


Thirdly, James notes that heavenly wisdom makes a person considerate or gentle as some translations put it. Such a person has a tender heart and cares deeply how they are received by others. Rather than harshly speaking to people, they are wrapped in gentleness in every way. James fourthly claims that wisdom from above will make us submissive. This is the truest test of Godliness. Although we may feel right and justified in our arguments, are we easily reconciled? Are we willing to abandon our strong feelings and stubbornness for the greater good? Titus 3:2 tells us to avoid quarrels and be gentle by showing perfect courtesy toward all.  


Fifthly, wisdom that God gives allows to become full of mercy. Whereas worldly wisdom seeks to exalt the ego and make others feel insecure, heavenly wisdom shows compassion. Just as Christ did not consider His high position more valuable to Him than saving sinners, we too must embody the wisdom of Jesus to care for others. Sixthly, Godly wisdom will always show good fruit. I wonder what kind of fruit is decorated on the branches of our lives. Would the Father look down from heaven and see my deeds as good and fruitful? Would my close family members say such words about my attitude?


James then notes in the seventh and eighth trait that Godly wisdom produces an impartial and sincere heart. This is an undivided person who is not seeking to please the flesh and the Spirit at the same time. They run away from hypocrisy and are sorrowful over their own sins and failures. They want nothing more than to live a life singularly dedicated to the cause of Christ and no one has reason to question their motives.


These explanations could be deepened even further but the for the sake of our devotion, I will leave you with this lasting thought. Every one of these characteristics will never be perfectly seen in either one of us. However, they have already been perfectly articulated in the life of Jesus Christ. He has encompassed the fullness of grace and truth and we desperately need the Spirit of Christ today (John 1:14). What other man knew perfect purity, humility, sacrifice, peace, submission, mercy and sincerity? Only the man, Jesus Christ. We have been so focused on becoming the perfect Christian, but have we ever considered more seriously if we’ve become anything close to the person Jesus Christ actually was. Let us reflect on that today.



Lord, there is a lot to contemplate in your Word today. I pray that you would not just help me but that you would come to live within me. Lord, consume my life and also assume my life. Let others begin to see glimpses of you in me every single day.  


3 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

Today we transition our thinking away from the tongue and begin some reflections on wisdom. We know that wisdom is discussed at length within the scriptures and particularly within the book of Proverbs. In that book we are reminded ultimately that all true wisdom comes directly from the mouth of the Lord (Proverbs 2:6). This would be the wisdom “from above”. Before we discuss that kind of wisdom, James will teach us firstly on wisdom “from below”.


Verse 13 begins with a rhetorical question to each one of us. Who is wise and understanding among you? The intention of the question is most clearly directed at those who might puff themselves up as wise and knowledgeable. Perhaps it is aimed at the long-term Christian or the Christian who had undergone some Bible training. It might even be aimed at the person who takes pride in the fact that they are highly educated or knowledgeable about many things. However, James declares that knowledge and wisdom are only effective if it is shown by a good life and by deeds that are done in humility. In other words, true wisdom is expressly seen in the virtuous and humble conduct of our lives.


While this is where true Christians ought to be in their attitudes, James alludes to the fact that not everyone behaves in this way. Verse 14 exposes the person who claims to have Godly wisdom but instead harbors something completely different. That is bitterness, envy and selfish ambition. The fact is, if we hold such things in our hearts, we clearly have nothing to boast about. Our boasting is in vain because our secret attitudes and desires are fraught with worldly motivations. James notes in verse 15 that this kind of “wisdom” is certainly not from heaven but rather it is earthly, unspiritual and demonic. Let us just consider this very practically. James is speaking of a person who has longings to be noticed for what they know. They are those who seek to be “right” in every discussion. They are content with getting into debates and arguments so they can display an attitude of pride and selfish pretension. 


I would think in our modern day, we might meet these people often within church circles. They infiltrate congregations not to serve humbly, not to love on others graciously, but to see who they can draw unto themselves. These motivations are stirred by becoming envious of others and desiring what they have. Perhaps it’s success they desire, or money, or fame, or even a position. No matter the reason, all of these attitudes have nothing to do with Christ and is in fact demonic.


How can we detect this sort of thinking in our own hearts? We might be quick to think that this passage is of no concern to us. However, we too can be tempted to treat God’s church like the world. We might try to compete against each other and climb the ladder of self-promotion. But this cannot be the state of our hearts. We must empty ourselves of those worldly passions and seek to be filled with the love of Christ for others. If our so-called knowledge will only make us proud, in God’s eyes it is nothing worth having. Ultimately, we will know we have a wisdom “from below” if we cannot sacrifice our pride for the sake of humbly serving another.



Lord, I desire most sincerely to crucify the desires of my flesh. I need your Spirit to fill me until all of my selfish pride is destroyed. May I decrease so that you might increase in every part of my life (John 3:30).


9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

We come to our last few thoughts on the subject of our speech. James has been completely unearthing the tragedy of our fallen human nature, and I pray it has been stirring some strong reflections in each one of us. Our last devotional taught us the overwhelming destruction that can come forth by such a small instrument. Today, James will remind us that there is hope and a way in which we can refine our speech to be pleasing to the Lord.


The beginning of verse 9 already reveals to us that the tongue is capable of producing good. With our tongue we can praise our Lord and Father. This is the calling of the creature, to sing and make a joyful noise unto the Lord (Psalm 98:4). If we were to only use the sound of our voices for one single venture, it would have to be in declaring the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into light (1 Peter 2:9). So, we can be encouraged to know that the tongue is useful to the Lord if we should allow it to be surrendered in worship. However, the revelation of James in these few verses is not of the sincere worshipper but one whose tongue is divided.


In every way, all of us have become this kind of worshipper. We will join in with the congregation during Sunday service to sing the high praises of God and then even within the lobby of the church, offer words of cursing to a brother or sister at the same time. Or, we will utter hurtful words to our spouse and children on the way home. James strongly declares in verse 10 that “this should not be”. The illustration given is of a spring that is unable to produce both fresh and salt water. This is obviously an exaggeration on the part of James, but he is alluding to the fact that we live in constant contradiction. The same mouth capable of blessing, is also able to curse.


Unfortunately, James does not include a clear solution to this conflict. However, I do think that the revelation alone should be enough to convict us deeply. The people we often slander, or curse, or gossip about are made in the likeness of God as verse 9 states. If we are to be worshippers of God, we must acknowledge at the same time that all creatures are fashioned by His hands. The glory of our creator is seen in the beauty of His creation. Therefore, in uttering such insults on His creation is to also offend the one true living God. Are you that different from your brother or sister that you would curse them? Aren’t you and I also broken creatures that have fallen desperately short of God’s standard? Let our words to others reflect the God we worship.


It’s clear today that God will not accept worship from the divided tongue. He will accept it from the one whose deeply conscious of their own sin and brokenness. He will inhabit the praises of the one who sees the log in their own eye before the speck found in their brother or sister. This does not mean we should wait until our tongue is perfect in order to worship God. Rather, it is because of our sincere duty to worship that we should carefully watch our tongues.  



Lord, there is a pride deep within me that hinders my worship to you. Humble me and convict me. Fill my mouth with praises to your Holy name and also gracious blessings over the people you love. Love for you and love for your people is what I desire.


3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

In today’s passage, James takes us to another dimension within the power of the tongue. Last time we were reminded of its power in preaching and teaching. Today, we will examine its capabilities in our everyday life.


There are many examples used by James in this text to describe to us the destruction that can come forth by the words that we say. This is a deeply convicting instruction and one that we ought to hear regularly. The point James makes in using the horse and the ship is to say that although the tongue is such a small part of our bodies, it yet can do so much damage. Perhaps the clearest example is brought forth in verse 5. The tongue is but a small spark capable of setting a raging wildfire to a forest. Think for a moment about how many words we speak in a day. Think also about every conversation you would have before you go to sleep. Do we know whether those things were words of encouragement or of destruction?


I do not want you to think that James or any of us are pointing the finger at you as if any human is better at this than the other. He writes in verse 8 that no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison. Once the words leave our lips, the fire has already begun, the poison has already been spilled and the ship has already changed its course. Just as a bullet leaves the gun and cannot return to its cartridge, so our words cannot return once spoken. Think for a moment on the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 12:34-37. He states the mouth speaks what the heart is full of, and he reminds us that we will have to give an account for every empty word we have spoken. It is overwhelming to consider even the eternal weight to our words.


Words are not meaningless; they surely carry a significant amount of weight and responsibility. We decipher the thoughts of man by the words they speak to us. We go home and ponder the words of others for hours on end. We record and analyze speeches to break apart every syllable and understand the heart of the person. I wonder what people would see of us purely by what we communicate on a daily basis. I believe that just as God is known by His Word, we too, should be known by the words that we speak. Let us just meditate on the many verses that convict us of this reality today.


Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29). Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues (Proverbs 10:19). The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit (Proverbs 15:4). Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Colossians 4:6).



Father, it is no secret that I have used my tongue in ways that are offensive to you. I know the destruction I can cause by just one word or one phrase. Holy Spirit, purify my heart so that your goodness flows out of me for the sake of others. Take each word and make it of use for the sake of your kingdom. Restrain my sinful flesh and fill me with the Spirit of your Son.


Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

Our next few devotionals will be specially concerned with the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21 states that the tongue has the ability to speak life and death. James will help us examine this thought more carefully.


Chapter 3 opens with the strict warning to all church members. He strongly suggests that not many of us should take on the role of teaching. He of course is not simply speaking of educators in schools but rather those who would stand before the congregation of Christ to explain the scriptures. Some have speculated that James is probably addressing this concern because many immature Christians desired the seat of teacher in those days. In these cases, you will have people who are not careful with their words and therefore speak things that are false or damaging. This can most definitely become an issue in the modern-day church if we are not wise and discerning.


The task of teaching the scriptures is not the same as sharing the word of God with others or a word of encouragement. When someone teaches, they do so to a group. They are charged with correctly handling the Word of truth by presenting its meaning to others (2 Timothy 2:15). In this case, it’s not a once-in-a-while teacher, but someone who does so consistently. It is quite damaging to have an ongoing teacher say things that contradict the scripture or speak in ways that are self-seeking. The teacher of the Word gives their instruction for the benefit of the people and ultimately for the glory of Jesus Christ. They do not seek self-promotion, nor do they aim to receive the greatest compliments from the congregation. They teach because Christ appointed them to do so in fear and reverence. They are examples to God’s people and even to other gifted teachers on what it means to become a messenger of God. They should, as Paul stated, become the least of all people to announce the boundless riches of Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:8).  


Does this mean all of us should never dare to teach others about Jesus Christ? I do not believe James is reaching that far in his statements. He is initially creating a standard for preachers and teachers who are to be leaders in the church. These will be judged more strictly in the end because they hold a greater responsibility to God’s people. However, he is also encouraging each of us to deeply know the faith we profess to have. In this way we will keep learning about the Lord, Jesus Christ that we might share His gospel with anyone who is willing to listen.


There may be another application for each of us found in verse 2 of this chapter. This is our ability to “keep our whole body in check”. It is quite hard to proclaim the gospel to others if they also hear cursing, slander or unwholesomeness from the same mouth that preaches. James understand that we will stumble in many ways, but that should ignite us to control our tongue so that the testimony of Christ remains untampered with. When we do say things, we should seek forgiveness from the Lord and even to those we have hurt. There will always be the power of life and death in our words. Therefore, let us speak the words of the life whenever we can.



Do I desire the task of teaching? Let the Lord purify my speech before I seek the stage. Have I become careless in my speech? Let the Lord replace that with that gospel that leads to life. 


20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

In today’s passage, we continue our discussion from last time as we dive deeper into the idea of faith and works. We learned that one cannot simply claim to have faith in Christ and yet not exhibit any visible characteristics of transformation. However, James wants to further clarify to enhance this important point.


It’s clear that James is not trying to get his readers to think about their legal standing before God. As if our works and deeds can truly give to us salvation and the gift of eternal life. In this context, James is rather speaking to the specific kind of church going person who is possibly pretending to be “in the faith”. In our day, we might think of the kind of person who grows up in the church and or simply attends the church for nothing more than religious reasons. When you truly connect with this kind of person, you soon realize that perhaps there is no true connection to Jesus Christ. Therefore, in order to wake this “pretend” Christian from their slumber, James drives his point home.


He begins by bringing us back to the Old Testament and highlighting the obedience of Abraham. He speaks specifically of the instance where Abraham obeyed God by offering his son Isaac on an altar which is found in Genesis 22. In this passage, Abraham hears the word of the Lord and receives directions to go and sacrifice his son. If he had a faith that was dead, Abraham would have ignored the Lord’s request and failed the test. However, we see that Abraham was willing to go to the furthest extent of obedience. James notes that because he obeyed even during this difficult test, his faith was made complete. The word “complete” here means that his faith was fulfilled or reached a level of perfection. Therefore, the righteousness that was attributed to Abraham was proven time and time again by His consistent faith in God.


Every day we have opportunities to display to the world whether or not we truly believe in God. Our actions will always tell one of two stories: a true believer or a false one. God is never concerned with how many congregants fill the pew and call themselves Christians. He is most concerned with how those same people react to problems in their job, or serving hard to love family members, or how they worship Him during the week. Ultimately, the greatest test God can perform on us to decipher the genuineness of our faith is to withhold or take something near to us. Will we obey and trust God if our health fails? Will we obey and trust God in unsafety? Will we persevere despite financial loss? What if something were to go wrong today, will we remain obedient and steadfast to the Lord? These are all great questions to consider.


I believe the deepest sense of faith is not always in claiming God’s greatest blessings and gifts over your life. The most profound and long-lasting sense of faith is found in “even if He doesn’t”. Just as the three Hebrew boys declared to King Nebuchadnezzar when faced with the fiery furnace in Daniel 3:18. Even if God should not grant to us all that we desire, will we still bless His holy name? Will we still believe that He is God and that all His ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30)? That is the true kind of faith that makes us righteous.  


Lord, help us today to strengthen our faith in new ways. Call us out of our zones of comfort and cause our hearts to be fully yielded to the glory of your name.


14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

James continues to reveal to us the motivations of his letter by constantly pointing us back to the same recurring idea. This being that we cannot claim to possess a true devotion to Jesus Christ, and yet choose not to live like Him. This is the lesson we learn once again from today’s passage.


It seems to us that James is seriously concerned with the outward behavior of the Christian. He is not all too worried about which Bible verses we can recite or even how much knowledge we can quickly regurgitate. He wants to know if the faith that has been planted deep within has truly bore any visible fruit in our life. This is why verse 14 states it is of no benefit to claim faith in Christ and yet have no deeds to support it. This is not telling us that we must now work for our salvation. We know that Paul writes that it is by grace, through faith that you have been saved and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). We could never earn our salvation through works, but we can prove that we have been saved by committing ourselves to righteous living. Simply stated, if anyone possesses Christ, it will automatically follow that they start to act like Him. Christ on the inside and Christ on the outside.


The activity and productivity of the Christian life is meant to be vibrant. It should not be hard to discern if a person is a follower of Christ. In fact, someone should be able to follow us all day and conclude from our thoughts, our motives, our actions and our words that we seek to honour the Lord. Paul writes that we need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Galatians 6:10 states we cannot grow weary in doing what is good. Are we not created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Ephesians 2:10)? Are we not to be zealous for good works (Titus 2:14)? Will not each one of us give an account for the works we have done (2 Corinthians 5:10)? It is clear at every corner of Holy scripture that the Lord desires for those who are born-again to live in the newness of life. Ultimately, if there be no genuine motivation toward good deeds and righteousness, then James declares that such a person does not have new life but in fact has a faith that is dead.


Verse 18 of James chapter 2 makes it plain for each one of us. If you isolate faith on its own and deeds on its own, you are only left with dead religion. We are made to be hypocrites if we want to land on only one side of the coin. However, true Christianity embodies the fullness of saving faith so that it can be expressed in the daily activity of our lives. I must follow the Lord in heart, but most certainly I must also follow Him to wherever He would call me. It is not enough to say that Jesus Christ is the Lord. It is not enough to say that there is only one God. James shockingly claims that even the demons believe that, and they shudder! Surely, we are much different than demonic angels who actively work against the purposes of God. We are children of the most high God and therefore, we seek to do and live out the will of the father.



I pray today that we would not take the light of Christ and cover it with a lampshade to dim His brightness. I pray that we would let our light shine before all people, so that when they see our good deeds, they will give all glory to the Lord who graciously saved us (Matthew 5:15-16).  


8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Today’s devotional might be considered a part two of what we discussed last time. James deepens his thoughts on favoritism and provides to us an essential revelation about ourselves. Particularly, he is pointing out our duty to love our neighbors.


Before we instantly assume that we are already good at this practice and quickly skim over this passage, let us consider the nature of James’ statements. He intentionally introduces the widely familiar law “love your neighbour as yourself” knowing that almost all of us have memorized this saying. However, our memorization has not necessarily meant that we have fully lived up to such a command. We have quoted this verse with our lips plenty while so very often living dramatically below its righteous standard. He writes, “if you really keep the royal law…” But have we really kept the royal law? Are we perfectly loving to our neighbors? The correct answer is no on all fronts.


The plain truth is that all of us at some point or another have shown partiality and favoritism to people. We have mistreated a brother while honouring the next. We have chosen to bless the ones that we prefer and curse those that do not mesh well with us. Our love for all has unfortunately transformed itself into only a love for some. If this be the case of our hearts, then no matter if you possess perfect alignment with every other command of scripture, you and I still fall short. This is precisely what James is getting at. We cannot think that our good deeds, or years of service, years of church attendance, and even Bible study will be a cover-up for our lack of love. James writes once we break one command, we are guilty of breaking the whole law. Therefore, we ultimately convict ourselves and are no better than the ones we condemn.


This mindset will become the disease that plagues any Christian heart. When we begin to parcel ourselves off and create a hierarchy in our mind of those worthy to us and those unworthy, we’ve lost true Christianity. If we are honest, the church is filled to the brim with this kind of immaturity. The supreme reason we become callous and judgmental is that we have forgotten firstly how deeply we ourselves have been loved by God. The person unable to love much has no recollection of how much they themselves have been loved. Christ tells His disciples to love one another just as He has loved them (John 13:34). The very next verse even proclaims that we are proven to be disciples of Christ if we love one another (John 13:35). We cannot say we love God and yet not possess the deepest of love for our brothers and sisters (1 John 4:20). So therefore, if we cannot love them, then perhaps not even we have received the sincere love of Christ.


We have a hard time forgiving when we have been forgiven of sins every day by God. We have a hard time having grace for the new convert still learning the way of the Lord. Yet, we required such grace at our own beginning. Even as James notes, we do not show mercy to people because we believe they deserved to be judged for their behaviour. I caution each one of us today to examine these motives. Consider what grace the Father has lavished on you, or how many sins He has forgiven you, or how much wrath He has withheld from you. If God has treated us so extravagantly, then surely nothing but the love of Christ should radiate generously from our lives.


Have I been holding any grudges against a brother or sister? Have I harboured any unforgiveness or bitterness? Have I distanced myself and chosen a few select to favour over others? What is keeping me from loving my neighbor today?  


My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

We now enter chapter 2 of the book of James and transition our thinking to a new topic. However, we can confidently say this is just a new topic under the same category of his broader teaching. He has been teaching us thus far on keeping our faith pure and free from hypocritical mindsets. Today our discussion is on favouritism.


James opens this chapter with a clear statement to all of us. He says that all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ must not show favouritism. The scenario provided in the text may seem a little more exaggerated or even foreign to you depending on your church background. But, make no mistake, this kind of special treatment happens all over the global church in subtle and extreme ways. In the time of James’ letter, it was the tendency of people to idolize the rich and grant them special attention in hopes of receiving some special favour from them. They thought that becoming close friends with the rich may in turn benefit them somehow in the society. Likewise, they assumed that any association with poor is demeaning and unnecessary. These kinds of motivations have no place in the heart of a true believer.


James describes this kind of behaviour as those who become judges with evil thoughts in verse 4. He is absolutely correct in that assertion. It was by grace that each one of us have become children of God through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. No born-again Christian received anything more from the Father because of their social and financial status. Therefore, why should we begin to create distinctions within the church and render the love of God meaningless? By picking and choosing who we associate with based on personal preference, we are no better than the rest of the world. For the world operates in these sinful and divisive ways. However, we are called to be like our Father in heaven who shows no favouritism (Romans 2:11). We are to view each one through the lens of grace, humbly serving one another regardless of their standing in society. Even Paul urges us in Galatians 3:28 that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus. Therefore, we should regard everyone as the Lord, Jesus Christ views them.


Verses 5-7 remind us of how discriminating and self-seeking the world can be. At that time, the religious elite made it impossible for the poor to have a relationship with God. And so, when Christ came to the world proclaiming good news to the poor, he broke the oppressive system. Shall we become like the pharisees and make God’s house just like the world? We have the opportunity to make the church a refuge for the broken, lost and hurting. We can show others that if God would choose to love poor sinners like us, surely, he can extend that same grace to them. The kingdom of God is not made up of the noble, the rich and the prideful. On the contrary, the Lord’s kingdom is made up of the lowly, the meek and the undeserving.


Consider today how we might more seriously love all of our brothers and sisters. Consider if you have allowed any sinful discrimination to defile your heart. Throw off every contention and bear with each other in love. Seek the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3)



Have I caused any division among God’s people? Do I hold any favouritism? May the Lord deliver me and fill me instead with His unconditional love for people.


26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

As we reach the end of this dense chapter, we begin to see the recurring theme James has been pointing at. He seems very concerned with Christians who fall into the trap of becoming overly religious. Our two verses today will get to the heart of this issue.


Many of us can admit that it is very easy to learn the motions of being the “North American Christian”. As long as we get to church on Sundays most weeks, perhaps taking up a serving position and try our best to be a good person when it matters, we assume we have made it. The deception here is not that we totally reject God but rather that we hold a religious affinity to Him. While we may convince others that these efforts are for God, deep down they are aimed elsewhere. Mainly, we are worried about what other people will think of us and so we do our best to look the part whenever we are in the public eye. This happens so regularly that it becomes the automatic nature to our lives until something shakes us out of it.  


James is probing at this kind of empty and lethargic spiritual life. Verse 26 states that because we have learned to play the part and rehearse it every week, we often consider ourselves religious or believers in God. But all of a sudden, James pulls the curtain down and peers behind the scenes into our private life. He sees for example that we have no control over our tongue. We speak careless words of cursing, insults and slander when we are away from the crowds and now our supposed religion is worthless. Is James asking us to become perfect and never fail? Are we to never fall into sin ever again? I don’t believe this is argument being made.


James understands that Christians will never be perfect at every single point in life. Whether it be public or private, our human flesh will cause us to stumble over and over. The problem with the religious person is that they want to present themselves as put together among others, meanwhile they are falling apart behind the scenes. It’s a false front and will not do us any good in terms of spiritual life and growth. This is the religion of the pharisees and scribes. In the public eye, they prayed loud prayers and boasted in their ritualistic lifestyles. Jesus condemned them saying they do not practice what they preach. They do everything for people to see, dressing themselves in all kinds of religious clothing, loving honor at banquets and being called “rabbi” by others in the marketplace (Matthew 23:2-7). We are not immune to this kind of lifestyle; we are very much prone to it.


James offers the solution to this deception and hypocrisy in verse 27. He says, pure and acceptable religion to God is not out in the public nor on the stage. It happens in the places where no one is looking and with people that are not noble by any means. In the time of James, orphans and widows were the downcast of society. To look after them was to abandon the praises of the crowd and to serve humbly in the quiet. This is the ultimate test of true devotion to Christ. Can we serve Him and obey Him even if no one else notices? Lastly, James encourages us to not be polluted by the world and it’s never ending falseness. Be true and honest before the Lord and before others. It’s better to stumble on our way to holiness than to pretend to be perfect.



Am I stuck in a religious mindset? Only serving God to please others? Lord, revive my sincere and pure devotion to you. My efforts are not for my own glory but for yours alone.


22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 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.

Our discussion in James chapter 1 thus far has led us into a variety of topics for our spiritual growth as Christians. Today our passage drives us toward one of the most fundamental needs for our daily living: becoming doers of the Word.


James firstly admonishes the reader to not simply take on the habit of just hearing the Word of God. It is not that hearing in of itself is a terrible thing. James is making the case that if we are only hearing the Word and nothing else, then we have not done enough. The Bible is full of sentiments that call us to have “ears to hear” which speaks of the readiness of our hearts to listen to God’s Word. However, listening is only one side to the coin. We must press on to prove ourselves as doers of the Word as the NASB translates it. If we do not take on this necessary step of obedience and putting our faith into practice, verse 22 states we deceive ourselves. It is foolish and delusional to repeatedly hear the truth and do nothing with what we hear. This is essentially how James frames his teaching.


The deluded frame of mind is further defined in verses 23 through 24. It is the description of a man looking into the mirror to observe his features and see a true reflection of who he is. But immediately when he walks away from that mirror, he forgets what he looks like. If this comparison sounds foolish to you, it’s because it works to prove the point James is making. The Word of God is the mirror that perfectly reflects who we are to the finest detail. It doesn’t lie to us nor deceive us into thinking incorrectly. When we hear God’s Word read or spoken, we are privileged to examine ourselves from the Lord’s point of view and effect real change into our life. But it is of no spiritual benefit to us if we would walk away from that time with the Lord and make no effort to apply it to our everyday living.


James adds in verse 25 that the one who is able to not only listen to the Word but “look intently” into it, they will be blessed in all they do. It is safe to assume then that the person who forgets what they heard will not reap blessing but instead a life of constant turmoil and even destruction. Obedience leads to God’s favour and disobedience does not. Deuteronomy 5:33 repeats this idea, “Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” We read similarly in 1 Kings 2:3 “Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.”


Obedience to the Lord is already a difficult task on its own. This is why the Word of God is so vital to our sanctification and spiritual walk. We should not underestimate the power of reading God’s Word and hearing it taught or preached. It is within those moments that we can open our hearts to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. Through this spiritual work, the Lord will conform us more and more into the likeness of His son as we become doers of the Word.



Have I created the habit of only listening to God’s Word? Am I trying to be godly on my own religious actions? Lord, fill us with your Spirit and enable us to apply your Word every day.

DAY 6: a gentle spirit (JAMES 1:19-21)

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.

Today's passage is another practical instruction from the heart of James. It has to do with our behavior and attitude toward others. Every one of us at one point or another will struggle in our relationships with friends, family and beyond. James offers a few insights on how to maintain a spirit of gentleness and turn away from anger.

Verse 19 states that we must always be ready to listen to others before we even consider speaking a word. The type of listening James is referring to here is one of hearing to understand and to receive. It is essentially a selfless act of listening for the sake of understanding the other person. However, it is not good enough to simply do this whenever we feel like. James implores us to be “quick” to listen which means it must become a constant attitude of our heart. As Christians, it ought to be our first and immediate inclination to listen deeply to others without the need of interjecting our thoughts and opinions. This will grow the fruit of gentleness within us as we learn to be more Christ-like and loving toward others.


This heart posture aligns with the rest of James statement. He further writes that we should be “slow to speak.” This is almost a complete reversal of our human nature. Our flesh demands for us to be heard and observed constantly. James isn't criticizing Christians for simply speaking their mind, but rather our own selfishness that often rouses up passionate feuds and even anger. When we want to be right about a subject or when we think we know better, our pride pushes us to respond in dominating and impulsive ways. We will see later in this book how our words can crush and bring death to those around us. Being willing at every moment to listen patiently to others will train godly humility in us. Listen to the frank words of Proverbs 29:20, “Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”

Now, both listening and becoming slow to speak are excellent ways to avoiding anger. It teaches us to put others before ourselves as Jesus frequently taught. Perhaps we should think about what others see in our character. Are we known to be easily angered? Do others have to think twice before speaking to us? What kind of reputation do we have? Are we gentle and kind or harsh and hostile? If anger has become our personality, we must take it seriously because the Bible does so. James says in verse 20 that human anger cannot produce the righteousness that God desires. In fact, our human anger often leads to other sins such as bitterness, rage, malice, brawling, slander and unforgiveness as Paul writes in Ephesians 4:31. Instead, we must seek God’s Spirit to clothe us with humility, gentleness, meekness, love, peace, kindness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)


We must throw off all forms of evil and human pride for these things poison our sincere testimonies of Christ. We should desire that when people examine our temperaments and attitudes, they see a devoted follower of Jesus. Even when people should push us to the edge of our emotions, all that should spill out of us is the sweet gentleness of Christ. We may never do this perfectly, but it is our duty to adorn our lives with such grace and peace.



Do I yield my emotions and attitude to the power of the Holy Spirit every day? Am I filled with more of me or more of Christ? Can others sense the love of Christ in me?


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. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

In continuing with James chapter 1, it seems as though he has pivoted his thinking toward a new subject. However, in reality he is intentionally flowing from what he had discussed in the previous verses. Today, we’ll be focusing more on how we respond and react to the trials that enter our lives. One dominant response in particular is our temptation toward sin.  


James begins the passage by telling us that we should not think that God has orchestrated such trials as a means to tempt us into sin. This would be completely contradictory to His nature. God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone as verse 13 states. We saw earlier that God’s main purpose in trials is to strengthen us, cultivate maturity and ultimately draw us closer to Him. Therefore, He could not be working against His own purposes by leading you and I into sin. So then, why do temptations feel strong in these seasons and where does sin come from? We keep reading.


Notice verse 14. James declares that each of us are dragged away by our own evil desires and eventually that heart posture leads to the manifestation of sin in our lives. The sin was already present within us before the trial occurred (Psalm 7:14). However, God may be using this trial to shed light on the darkness that is within. It is by His grace that He would purify us in such a manner. It is for our benefit that we understand this inner reality. We dare not blame anyone for our own evil desires. Further, we dare not use the times of trial as a way of blaming God and excusing our own sin. This is not a plea for perfection, but instead honesty. When we become honest before a Holy God, we allow His light to expose the fruitless deeds of darkness that consumes our lives (Ephesians 5:11). This is part of His pruning process that is mentioned in John 15:2. Have I compromised in some area in my life? Am I trying to hide my sins away from the Lord? Have I surrendered the deepest, most darkest places to Him? When we answer these questions honestly, we can be sure to experience His forgiveness and freedom.


Since God is not the author of sin in our lives, James points us to His true motives in verse 17. He does not give to us sin but instead offers to each one of us the goodness of His perfect gifts. This is a wondrous thought. God is not willing that we experience the agonies of sin but rather the glory of His divine provision. He is not an emotional giver who changes and shifts like the shadows. He gives to us gifts from heaven, things that nothing on the earth could ever gain nor afford. If He chose to shower us with the gifts of His amazing grace and promise us eternal life, we can be sure He will continue to supply for our every need (Philippians 4:19).


Our heavenly Father knows how and when to reward us with His gifts (Matthew 7:11). However, we must be patient in seeking His face and asking for His will to be done. Often, we move ahead of God, proving our distrust in Him and bringing upon our own ruin. Lamentations 3:25 carries a precious promise. It states, “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.”



How am I managing my seasons of trial and pruning? Am I pursuing sin or seeking after Christ? May God realign our focus to be on His kingdom and His righteousness.


9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James continues his instructions to us by further refining our Christian character. He is clearly discipling us in the way of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Today’s passage reminds us that our life positions and circumstances have a way of affecting our character. Often, we are absorbed into what we have or don’t have in life and that shapes who we are or how we behave. James calls you and I “believers” in this passage, reminding us of our true, heavenly status. We are not to be identified by the accomplishments of this world, but rather by our identity as a follower of Jesus Christ.


Verse 9 commends the lowly believers first and tells them to rise up and exalt in their “high position”. This is a person who is already identified by society to be low in status and probably financially poor. James says this believer should rejoice because while we might be physically poor, we are rich because of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 8:9). In our human minds, poverty can never mean riches and wealth. However, in the kingdom of God, it is the humble and lowly that are highly favoured (Matthew 23:12). These people do not need silver and gold to receive their worth in God’s sight. They understand that are already sons and daughters of the King and will inherit the crown of life as verse 12 states. Humility is what God honors, and we ought to boast in our weakness and insufficiency, for His power is made perfect in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9).


Verse 10 brings to us a strict warning to the rich and wealthy that we should pay attention to. Earthly treasures have always been a temptation into pride and greed. Typically, the more we gain in this life, the less we tend to our own spiritual hearts. That is why James says the rich should take pride in their “humiliation.” If we find ourselves blessed financially in this life, we must be ever so cautious of pride seeping into our hearts. Further, we should not be obsessing over becoming rich and gaining increased wealth. Financial blessing itself is not sinful, but the love of money sure is. Paul writes to Timothy that this obsession has led many to wander away from Christ and cause them to be “pierced with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10). As such, we should be more afraid of losing our relationship with Christ than of losing mere material things.


We know that wealth and earthly gains are but temporary. The Lord knows how and when to bless us when we work faithfully and commit ourselves to His will. James writes that the rich will pass away as quickly as a flower blossoms and withers. Spending and sacrificing time, resources, and our own families to gain the fleeting treasures of this world is nothing worth chasing as a Christian. It leads down the path of pride which always comes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Let us examine our hearts in light of James’ sincere words. The lowly, the humble, the meek and poor shall see the kingdom of God and inherit the crown of life. Fix your eyes on Christ today and store up your treasures in heaven.


Am I seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness or am I running after worldly fame and wealth? How am I stewarding God’s blessing right now? Is money my idol or my resource?

DAY 3: wisdom & prayer (JAMES 1:5-8)

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.

In verse 5 of chapter 1, James is continuing his same line of thinking on the subject of trials. In today’s reading, he invites each believer to call upon God for wisdom if they are lacking. We can assume that being in trials disorients us to the point of not knowing how to manage ourselves nor the situation. We should learn that at those times, more than ever, to run to God for His help and wisdom.

I'm reminded of all the stories in the Old Testament where the faithful men and women would earnestly seek God for His instruction and guidance. Whenever they heard from God and obeyed, they were successful. Whenever they sought their own plans, they saw failure and disappointment. We ought to learn from their victories and losses.

The wisdom of God can be seen as divine intelligence for our everyday lives. It is not something we can develop within our own humanity. We must go to God in prayer and seek His face for divine guidance. The word James uses for “wisdom,” is not so much just a piece of knowledge to be kept in our heads. Wisdom here is in reference to our ability to apply it accurately and properly to our lives. James is imploring each one of us to think about God before acting or speaking. Consider what He would do if He were in this situation. What exactly would God have me do right now? This is why Proverbs states that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). We dare not make a move without taking heed of the Lord's instruction. That is in seeking His Word, seeking wise counsel and most importantly, diligently seeking His face in prayer.

When we pray to the Lord, James gives us strict instructions. We should not ask and not believe that God will provide answers. We are very prone of carelessly lifting our prayers to God without any deep thought to the state of heart. Do we believe God will lead us? Do we believe God will shine light into our darkness? Do we believe He will answer our prayers? James says that we need to tend to our belief and destroy our unbelief (Mark 9:23-24).

We should lastly notice here that doubt in this passage is not characterized as an anchor in the sea. It is described as merely a wave that is at the mercy of the blowing wind. We do not want to become the Christian that is in constant instability. This is when we are pursuing God for a few days and then far away from Him the next week. James says such a person will not receive anything from the Lord for they are double-minded and unstable in all they do. The point of the passage then is that if we want true spiritual stability in life, we must consistently seek the wisdom of God and believe deeply in His ability to answer us. Wisdom and prayer are anchors for the Christian life to use time and time again especially in our seasons of trials.



When trouble strikes, where do we go first? Do we turn to God and His Scriptures or to other places? Do we pick and choose when to seek God or are we persistently knocking at His door? The Lord says ask and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to us (Matthew 7:7). Rest in His promises today.

DAY 2: growing in TRIALS (JAMES 1:2-4)

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.

Last time, we emphasized our attitude and heart posture toward trials by cultivating joy in our life. Today, we'll focus on the purpose of trials from the viewpoint of our heavenly Father.

It's hard to believe that God would be the grand cause of our trials in life. While we most often bring upon our own troubles, God will also orchestrate some of these for His divine purposes. James says they will be trials of "many" kinds. They will likely be unpredictable and untimely, and yet still be within the divine will of God for our lives.  

James tells us in verse 3 that these trials are actually "testing our faith". Why would our faith need to be tested if we already believe in Christ? Well, these tests are not meant to drive Christians away from Jesus, they are meant to pull them closer to Him. Peter declares that the testing of our faith refines us and brings glory to our Lord, Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:7). This refining process is meant to strengthen our walk with God and increase our dependency on Him. We never want to be in a position where we trust our own intellect, strength, and resources more than God. Therefore, we can be assured that trials will always amplify our deep need of the grace of Jesus Christ every single day (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Because there is an increase in devotion during times of trials, there is much to gain even when it feels like a devastating loss to us. Perseverance is the fruit that is born during this process. It means to endure with patience and unwavering loyalty. Are we more loyal to God because of the outcome of our lives or are we loyal to Him because He deserves such a devotion? Trials will lead us to that answer.

James seems to imply that this mindset of only trusting God in good times is linked with a kind of immaturity. That is why verse 4 says that perseverance has to do its work unto "maturity". A mature person is one who has learned to be unbothered by distractions and remains committed despite difficult situations. We can trust a mature person in both easy and difficult circumstances. In this same way, God is looking to grow this kind of character in us. He does this over and over until the work is complete in us as James says. He does not want us to lack in anything and so by His love, He initiates this ongoing process of refining.

This then, is God's grand desire: growth. Trials are one of the main ways God will exact this growth in our lives. He longs to prune us so that we continue to bear good fruit. John 15:1-8 speaks of this reality. In verse 8 of that chapter, Jesus states "This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." If you've ever wondered if God has a purpose to your trials, He does. He is at the forefront of your heart, creating in you all that He desires to see. He patiently sculpts us until we become conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29).


Before asking God “Why me?” consider “Why not me?” Do I have a desire to grow closer to God? Will I use this season or trial as a way for God to work deeply in my heart?


1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations 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.

James begins his letter with a passage that is very memorable to most Christians. Memorable because of its usefulness in our seasons of trials but also because there is a high calling within it. Trials are a necessary part of the Christian life. Jesus promised us not a good and easy life but one that would entail trouble (John 16:33). However, within the same verse, the Lord also mentions that we should "take heart" amidst these troubles because He has overcome the world.

This may be the idea James is bringing to mind in verse 2 of his letter. He says to "consider it pure joy" when we face trials. Other translations render this phrase as "consider it ALL joy." Immediately, we would think this is mostly impossible. That we would suddenly be able to convert all our heavy burdens into pure joy. Trials and joy do not seem capable of sitting in the same seat for us. However, James is bringing to us not a human perspective, but a heavenly one. From the vantage point of heaven, which our true citizenship remains, our joy rests in the life to come and not in the present. Matthew 5:12 calls us to rejoice and be filled with gladness because our reward is in heaven! Therefore, trials are meant to focus our gaze to be ever so fixated on our soon coming glory.

It's very difficult to jump out of our present situations, sufferings and circumstances and constantly look forward. We would much rather sit in the hopelessness and resort to our vices that seem nearer to us than the glory of heaven. However, James would encourage us otherwise. He would remind us of how temporary a trial is compared to eternity. I think much of our own joy-lessness comes from our constant dwelling on the present. The Christian is called to so much more. We have every privilege and every right to dwell on the future. Paul tells us in the scripture to rejoice in hope and to rejoice always (Romans 12:12; Philippians 4:4). Therefore, we can always be hopeful and filled with inexpressible joy because we know Christ will work everything together in the end (Romans 8:28).


In thinking about joy and trials, I do not want us to think that we will never face sorrow and grief. As Christians, the Bible affirms that we can experience both deep sorrow and deep joy at the exact same time. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:10 that we are “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”. Although we are weighed down by earthly troubles, we are also lifted up on wings like eagles. Let us pray for that heart posture every day.


Who or what is the source of my joy and happiness? Am I able to rejoice in the hope that is to come? Does having Christ in my life lead to a gladness and spiritual fullness?