Today we started reading the challenging epistle of James which is so full of practical advice for living a Christ-like life. Paul says that when he later visited Jerusalem he “saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.” [Gal. 1 v.19] – so we conclude this was the James – not initially a believer. A study in Acts (ch.12 v17; 15 v, 13 and 21 v,18 shows he came to take on a prominent role in Jerusalem.
James tells the believers (initially in Jerusalem – and now in “Dispersion” (v.1) to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.’ [v.3] James then makes the point that we must allow this “testing” to “have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” [v.4]. We must meditate deeply on that point – looking back on our own journey in belief, and how we developed genuine faith.
Maybe, even now some are struggling with doubts! But James warns, “the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” [v.6] Isn’t this why so much of ‘so-called’ Christianity has collapsed in recent years!?
We notice how James, later in the chapter, makes a particular point telling them to be “slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” [v.19,20]
James next words are ‘powerful’ – and surrounded as we are today with “filthiness and rampant wickedness” [v.21], as they were then. We must “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” Human nature being what it is – we can increasingly allow the surrounding “rampant wickedness” to seep into our minds!
To be able to effectively overcome this, we must make sure that we have implanted God’s word, not only into our minds – but into our hearts – and so have a fully active conscience to maintain the “meekness” with which we first received “the implanted word.”
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