Monday

James 1:1-11 Monday 11 November 2013


Background

The Letter of James had a difficult journey into the NewTestament. It was not until the end of the 4th century that it wasacknowledged as Scripture by both the eastern and western Churches.Jesus Christ is only mentioned twice, at the beginning of chapters1 and 2. There is no clear progression of ideas, as the first 11verses demonstrate. It has been described as having no theology,and has suffered since the 16th century from the comments of thereformer Martin Luther, who described it as "an epistle of straw".Despite that, the letter is worth reading as a guide for practicalChristian living.

After his initial greeting, addressing the letter to a widereadership, rather than to one particular group of Christians, thewriter begins by reminding his readers that the life of faith isnot easy. There will be many trials on the way, but they are toface them joyfully, for they are growing points in life, working toproduce deeper, stronger, more certain faith. He does not spell outwhat those trials might be, whether outright persecution or thechallenges of daily life, but in order to use those testingexperiences in the right way, wisdom is needed.

James sees wisdom as a gift of God, which is to be prayed for.In verse 6, he talks about the importance of faith in prayer.Prayer is to be made expectantly, and those who approach prayerwithout any sense of expectation will be unable to receive fromGod.

In verse 9, James seems to enter upon a new subject - thequestion of wealth and poverty in the Christian community. Thereare echoes here of Mary's song in Luke1:52-53, which speaks of the poor being lifted up and the richsent away empty in God's kingdom, but perhaps James here isreminding the poorer members of the church of their status aschildren of God, and warning the wealthier members of thetransitory nature of wealth.


To Ponder

  • People say 'these things are sent to try us' when going throughdifficulties in life. How do you feel about that statement?
  • James seems to be quite hard on wealthy people, as did Jesus.What do you consider to be the difficulties faced by the rich inliving a Christian life?
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