Monday 15 February 2010

Bible Book:

"If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you." (v.5)

James 1:1-11 Monday 15 February 2010


The voice of Church tradition speaks with varying degrees ofassurance about the author of this letter. Whether the words areactually those of James the brother of Jesus or not, the booknevertheless contains pithy, illuminating comments about living theChristian life.

Addressed to the "twelve tribes in the Dispersion" this appears tobe a general letter of encouragement to Jewish-Christiancongregations. Was this after the death of Stephen - the firstChristian martyr (Acts 6:8 - 8:1) - or is that too early adate?

James is written from a strong pastoral heart. He is keen toencourage "brothers and sisters" as they face trials and doubts.There is a gentle guiding attitude to this letter where theprinciple emphasis is to encourage right actions (orthopraxis)rather than right belief (orthodoxy). James is keen that goodbehaviour should accompany good beliefs as an essential part of theChristian life.

Martin Luther, the man who initiated the Protestant Reformation ofthe 16th century, didn't like this absence of hard theology. Hereputedly described the letter as an "epistle of straw". Butthroughout the centuries this letter, which appears to be acollection of sermon notes, has spoken with directness to theordinary Christian. The words have encouraged the reader on thepilgrimage of faith that leads from the door of grace. James extolsthe merits of wisdom as a Godly virtue which needs to be desiredand developed. As such he stands within the wisdom tradition of theOld Testament books of Proverbs and Job.

To Ponder

When have you found wisdom to illuminatedifficult situations?

If you were to write a circular letter ofencouragement to your neighbouring churches, what would youinclude?

How do you see the balance between rightbehaviour and right actions?

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