Monday 30 January 2017

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 30 January 2017

Psalm: Psalm 96

The Methodist Church's Bible Month this year focuses on theletter of James. It takes place in June, although churches andcircuits may choose a different time if that is more convenient.For more information (including training and resources), go to


The first thing to note about the Letter of James is that it isnamed after the person writing it, as opposed to its recipients.Along with the letters of Peter, John and Jude, James is thought tohave been written to the wider Christian community, rather than aparticular congregation. And these Epistles are sometimes labelled'Catholic', in reference to their general nature.

Traditionally, James the brother of Jesus, who led the church inJerusalem has been thought the most likely author. Some disputethis and the most likely alternative is that an unknown authorwrote it in the name of James. The letter is written to "the twelvetribes in the Dispersion" (v. 1) and reflects that strand of earlyChristianity which emphasised its Jewish foundations andheritage.

James is packed with practical wisdom about how to live as aChristian, often in the face of serious challenges and evensuffering. In fact, a very positive spin is put on facing trials,as it produces endurance and maturity in faith. These themes ofpractical advice and the suffering of the faithful are rooted inthe Wisdom tradition found earlier in the Scriptures, in books suchas Proverbs and Job. The gift of knowing how to live well as humanbeings is to be sought in God and lived out in relationship withGod.

There is an encouragement, however, to ask for this wisdom "infaith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of thesea, driven and tossed by the wind" (v. 6). In a context wherefaith is being tested and Christians are facing the prospect ofpersecution, doubt is viewed as a threat and a weakness. Wherechurches are young and fragile it is felt to be important toinspire and shore up faith. One can imagine the author of Jamesviewing these dispersed communities as plates needing to be keptspinning in the air.

Apparently one practical issue to be addressed was theinequality between rich and poor, both within and without theChristian community. The believer, however poor and lowly, islifted up by the gracious generosity of God, and the rich arereminded of where true value lies. True wisdom is empowering andliberating for all parties.

To Ponder

  • Reflecting on your own experiences of facing "trials of anykind" (v. 2) what impact have they had on your faith?
  • "Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
    Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"(T SEliot)
    Reflect on Eliot's words at the start of his poem 'Choruses fromthe Rock'. What do you understand wisdom to be and where is it tobe found?
  • What place does doubting play in your journey of faith?
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