Tuesday 31 January 2017

Bible Book:

“In fulfilment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.” (v. 18)

James 1:12-18 Tuesday 31 January 2017

Psalm: Psalm 97

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), goto www.methodist.org.uk/biblemonth.


The dispersed communities of the early Church were facing manychallenges, even trials and tribulations. James is keen to offersupport and encouragement to these vulnerable Christians, and tospell out the rewards for enduring and keeping the faith. In thispassage the threat to the faithful is couched in terms of beingtempted, addressing perhaps the internal struggle when people gothrough testing times.

One thing is for sure, it is not God who tempts us and anysuggestion that might be the case is to be refuted. James isexploring the inner processes of the human psyche when faced withmore or less favourable options. How enticing a certain path canappear at times, especially if it leads away from suffering andpersecution, and makes for an easier and more comfortableexistence. But this desire to yield gives birth to death, not life;it is a deception to be avoided at all costs. James is concernedfor the well-being of the individual but also for the fragilecongregations which need to stand firm in an inhospitable andsometimes hostile environment.

Those who manage to endure temptation and stand the test willreceive the crown of life promised by God (verse 12). This is theGod who is the source of every generous act of giving and everyperfect gift; incapable of tempting us because God is the "Fatherof lights" (v. 17), who is consistent and unwavering in goodnessand grace and love. So, the chastening words about temptation areframed by a reassurance of God's nature, which cannot deviate fromits essence of light and love and mercy.

And James hasn't finished in the encouragement stakes yet. Fornot only are the faithful to be recipients of God's unchangingpromises, but in being brought to new birth we are the fulfilmentof God's purposes, "a kind of first fruits of his creatures". Aswas stated earlier in the letter, "Let the believer who is lowlyboast in being raised up" (James1:9). Rather than focusing on the weaknesses and the threats,here is a reminder of the God-given status and privileges of thosewho would endure.

To Ponder

  • What do you understand by the petition in the Lord's Prayer,"Lead us not into temptation"?
  • In what ways in your everyday life do you tend to take the wideand easy path rather than the narrow and more challenging one?
  • Spend some time reminding yourself of God's consistent natureof love and mercy - and the God-given status and privileges youhave been granted.

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