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James

A Daily Bible Study in 7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and Daily Application

Sunday (James 1:1-18)

Salutation

1:1 From James, a slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes dispersed abroad. Greetings!

Joy in Trials

1:2 My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, 1:3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

1:4 And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.

1:5 But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him.

1:6 But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind.

1:7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, 1:8 since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways.

1:9 Now the believer of humble means should take pride in his high position.

1:10 But the rich person’s pride should be in his humiliation, because he will pass away like a wildflower in the meadow.

1:11 For the sun rises with its heat and dries up the meadow; the petal of the flower falls off and its beauty is lost forever. So also the rich person in the midst of his pursuits will wither away.

1:12 Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him.

1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one.

1:14 But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires.

1:15 Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death.

1:16 Do not be led astray, my dear brothers and sisters.

1:17 All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change.

1:18 By his sovereign plan he gave us birth through the message of truth, that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Prayer

Lord, Your wisdom is perfect, and You desire that we share in it. May I ask without doubt and trust Your guidance.

Summary & Commentary

The words of James 1:2 may have echoed in the minds as his readers as they recalled the report, from 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, of the suffering endured by the Apostle Paul:

“... in far more imprisonments,

consider it nothing but joy ...

“... beaten times without number, often in danger of death.

consider it nothing but joy ...

“Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.

consider it nothing but joy ...

“Three times I was beaten with rods,

consider it nothing but joy ...

“... once I was stoned,

consider it nothing but joy ...

“... three times I was shipwrecked,

consider it nothing but joy ...

“ a night and a day I have spent in the deep.

consider it nothing but joy ...

“I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;

consider it nothing but joy ...

“I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

consider it nothing but joy ...

“Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches.

consider it nothing but joy ...

James reminded his readers to follow the example of Solomon, where wisdom is needed, ask the Holy Spirit for more.

James insisted that our requests of God be “without doubting” because “... one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed about by the wind ... that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is an double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways.”

While God is not tempted we are. We must not let our good fortunes in this world cause us to imagine that we cannot be tempted. We must see tests as an opportunity to mature by resisting through the strength of the Holy Spirit within.

Be bold in the declaration of God:

“Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:24-33).

Look forward to an opportunity to testify to Jesus and your hope in Him:

“And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:14b-15)

Be careful that your suffering is due to your faithfulness, or at least not due to your sin:

“... and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:16)

Interaction

Consider

James’ teaching defined what was found in Paul’s writings in 2 Corinthians.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to be more-bold in the declaration of the Lord God?

Reflect

James insistence was that our requests of the Lord God be “without doubting” because “... one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed about by the wind ... a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways.”

Share

What is an example from your experience of following Solomon; when wisdom was needed and you asked the Holy Spirit for more? Did He give it only to you directly or did He provide one or more others to walk with you in discerning the guidance of His wisdom?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where you have been doubting the Lord God, asking Him to provide what you need to walk a more mature walk and/or to have the wisdom that you need, but not really trusting and therefore not allowing Him to do so.

Action:

Today I am choosing to confess my double-mindedness to a fellow believer and I will ask them to pray with me to break free of that place of stuckness.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (James 1:19-27)

Living Out the Message

1:19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.

1:20 For human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.

1:21 So put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the message implanted within you, which is able to save your souls.

1:22 But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves.

1:23 For if someone merely listens to the message and does not live it out, he is like someone who gazes at his own face in a mirror.

1:24 For he gazes at himself and then goes out and immediately forgets what sort of person he was.

1:25 But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out – he will be blessed in what he does.

1:26 If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile.

1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Prayer

Lord, You have given us so much and You ask that we honor Your gifts in the way that we live. May I become a more valuable instrument of your saving grace and discipling love as I press-away the things of the world and replace them with a heart inclined toward You.

Summary & Commentary

“By His sovereign plan ...”

{Note: God is in control.]

“... he gave us birth through the message of truth, that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

[Note: The Lord God provides for a new birth, in Christ, cleansed us of our sins. When He views us through Jesus the Christ we are returned to pre-Fall purity and post-Cross righteousness.]

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. For human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.”

[Note: Paul taught us to “pray without ceasing” because in so doing we have to slow down before we react to circumstances and take the time to consult the Lord God through His indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus warned that the tongue is tough to control. Jesus also taught that there is “righteous anger” but that one must not “sin in their anger”.]

“... put away all filth and evil excess”

[Note: We cannot do this of our own strength but only through the Holy Spirit.

“... humbly welcome the message planted within you.”

[Note: The Bible teaches that the Lord God will “write His message on the heart” of the faithful.]

“... be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it ... be blessed”

[Note: “The Word of God does not return void”, without impact, when it is received by a willing heart.]

“If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile.

[Note: We each make choices to obey or to rebel, the one who does not choose to allow the Holy Spirit to control their tongue, has made a choice to rebel. The Lord God’s consistent message is that He blesses obedience and not disobedience.]

“Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this:”

[Note: We live before an audience of only one being Who really matters, that is the Lord God alone; we must focus on pleasing Him above all others.]

“... to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune”

[Note: “A father to the fatherless, a husband to the widow.]

“... to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

[Note: If we recite the Lord’s Prayer with intentional meaning then we cannot say “Lead us not into testing or temptation” if we deliberately remain in situations where we know that we are vulnerable.]

Interaction

Consider

Paul taught us to “pray without ceasing” because in so doing we have to slow down before we react to circumstances and consult God through His indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus warned that the tongue is tough to control. Jesus also taught that there is “righteous anger” but that one must not “sin in their anger”.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to “... put away all filth and evil excess” and “... to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune”?

Reflect

One cannot “... keep oneself unstained by the world if one deliberately remains in situations where one knows they are vulnerable.

Share

When have you observed an example from your life “... humbly welcome the message planted within you.”? How has the Lord God’s message brought comfort and wisdom and you have shared that with others - giving Him all of the glory?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where you fail to “pray without ceasing”

Action:

Today I will ask the Holy Spirit to help me to slow down before I react to circumstances and consult Him. I agree to partner with the Holy Spirit for wisdom and power, and with a fellow believer for accountability, as I walk through the process of transformation in my life.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (James 2:1-13)

Prejudice and the Law of Love

2:1 My brothers and sisters, do not show prejudice if you possess faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

2:2 For if someone comes into your assembly wearing a gold ring and fine clothing, and a poor person enters in filthy clothes,

2:3 do you pay attention to the one who is finely dressed and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and to the poor person, “You stand over there,” or “Sit on the floor”?

2:4 If so, have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil motives?

2:5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters! Did not God choose the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?

2:6 But you have dishonored the poor! Are not the rich oppressing you and dragging you into the courts? 2:7 Do they not blaspheme the good name of the one you belong to?

2:8 But if you fulfill the royal law as expressed in this scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

2:9 But if you show prejudice, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as violators.

2:10 For the one who obeys the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.

2:11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a violator of the law.

2:12 Speak and act as those who will be judged by a law that gives freedom.

2:13 For judgment is merciless for the one who has shown no mercy. But mercy triumphs over judgment.

Prayer

Lord, You patiently-loved and sacrificially-saved us when were could bring to You nothing of value. May I remember that I am nothing but what the Lord God pours through me into others.

Summary & Commentary

Paul clearly identifies his audience as those who “possess faith in our Lord Jesus Christ”; This is a message for believers.

Then he challenges them (us) to consider how they (we) treat a person of unknown faith, when the person enters our place of worship, looking only at their appearance “if someone comes into your assembly wearing a gold ring and fine clothing, and a poor person enters in filthy clothes.

He then gets more specific “do you pay attention to the one who is finely dressed and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and to the poor person, “You stand over there,” or “Sit on the floor”?”

And finally he questions their heart-condition: “If so, have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil motives?”

In 1 Timothy 5:21 the apostle Paul challenges Timothy, and every leader “Before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, I solemnly charge you to carry out these commands without prejudice or favoritism of any kind.”

A leader must never be chosen based on his worldly success but only for his spiritual maturity and the observed calling and gifting of the Holy Spirit for ministry.

A leader must never make decisions about care-giving, fellowship, outreach, or participation based on worldly priorities but only the priorities modeled by Jesus and taught in the Word of God.

Jesus and Paul, and here James, address the frequent divide between the rich and the poor, a divide that far too often includes one of shallow versus true faith.

[Note: Remember the Story of the Rich Man from Mark 10:17-31]

Have we not all observed that the distractions of money, the pursuit of money, and the way that money may insulate us from many of the challenges of life - sometimes leads us also to a sense that we don’t need the Lord God?

It can be a subtle drift ... it is not as though we suddenly say “OK, I am comfortable with my income-to-debt ratio, so Hey God - you can take a break - I’ll handle it from here.”

It happens in small increments, we start skipping our times of personal Bible study and the extra activities at church (the gathering of believers) - unless, of course, we need to be there to network there for our business.

Then we start making excuses for missing our small group study. After that we miss more and more Sunday morning times of worship, and eventually we have all-but placed God and His people into a picture frame on the wall next to our certificate of club membership and our 3 year old award for public service.

Jesus, God in human flesh, chose to arrive at Christmas - born to a poor family. He said “Foxes have dens, and the birds in the sky 1 have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” And He died with nothing of the world in His possession.

While Jesus dined with poor and rich alike, healed poor and rich alike, and welcomed poor and rich alike - one cannot help but observe that He appeared to invest most of His time and energy among the poor and what we’d call the middle-class today - finding little welcome and less response among the rich.

“Did not God choose the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?”

James is not saying that God prefers the poor over the rich, he has said elsewhere that He “Is no respecter of persons”, meaning that one’s standing in the opinion of man has no bearing on God’s opinion of you - God seeks a heart-relationship with anyone, rich or poor.

What James is saying is that the rich in his day were obsessed with maintaining their sinful lifestyles and the teaching of Christ made them uncomfortable.

James reminds his readers that, because of their fear of the teaching of Jesus that God loves the poor and the rich equally, they (the rich) “blaspheme the good name of the one you belong to.

I have observed that working men are unlikely to be surprised by, or to disagree with, the Biblical teaching that people are not naturally good - but are instead naturally drawn toward selfishness and sin.

I have also observed that the rich, or those otherwise isolated from the daily challenges of the working world, tend to think of people as essentially good.

It is generally the case that the rich are less likely to sense a need for God because they are more insulated from the daily struggle for food and clothing and shelter - and the rich tend to have the discretionary time to reflect upon alternative human explanations of the origins and value of man.

We honor those in need with our love and resources because they are loved by God, they are less likely to disrespect God, and because Jesus said so!

“2:8 But if you fulfill the royal law as expressed in this scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 2:9 But if you show prejudice, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as violators. 2:10 For the one who obeys the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 2:11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a violator of the law. 2:12 Speak and act as those who will be judged by a law that gives freedom. 2:13 For judgment is merciless for the one who has shown no mercy. But mercy triumphs over judgment.”

Jesus commanded that His followers “love your neighbor as yourself then James explains that doing so will fulfill the royal law - and therefore you are doing well - we need to understand that there is a huge difference between trying to keep the letter of the Law and an act from the heart - in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.

James makes reference to the Law so we need to understand the New Testament teaching as to the purpose of the Law - it is to convict us of our distance from God.

It is important to note that the Law permits no failure - one must meet it perfectly in every detail or fail completely “For the one who obeys the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a violator of the law.”

Therefore James reminds his readers But if you show prejudice, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as violators. He also reminds us that if we are without mercy, a failure to reflect the heart of God, we have no cause to expect God to treat us with mercy.

I believe that it was Abraham Lincoln who wrote “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. Pointless-prejudice is just plain dumb! We all have “prejudices”, or perhaps it is safer to use the term “preferences”, but prejudice based on ignorance is destructive to communities and to our spiritual well-being. Racial prejudice is one of the dumbest of all - skin color tells one nothing about the heart or the mind.

James concludes “Speak and act as those who will be judged by a law that gives freedom. For judgment is merciless for the one who has shown no mercy. But mercy triumphs over judgment.”

The new “Law” of Jesus, for those who are saved, is grounded in mercy and not performance.

The person whom a healthy person treats with the greatest patience and respect, providing the most resources and time to - is oneself. Jesus wants us to share the same consideration and “slack” we give ourselves with others.

He is always most concerned with the condition of our hearts, endeavoring to transform our imperfect and selfish hearts into hearts overflowing with God’s love.

In our imperfection (without Jesus the Christ) we are imperfect and ugly in the eyes of the Lord God, so much so that were we to be in His presence, His perfection would destroy us. Yet He came to us and provided a way back for us, taking our ugliness upon Himself, so that our relationship with Him might be restored.

How little He asks that we show the same heart of mercy toward others.

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God has tolerated humankind, and responded to with mercy, from shortly after the time of His creation - the Fall in the Garden of Eden- and throughout history until now so that we might be restored to right-relationship with Him for eternity. How do the distractions of money, the pursuit of money, and the way that money may insulate us from many of the challenges of life, lead us to a false sense that we don’t need God?

Discuss

What are some practical ways that we might make the practice of mercy an integral and instinctive part of our lives? Also, some practical ways that we may avoid the subtle drift, the small increments, as we start skipping our times of personal Bible study and the extra activities at church (the gathering of believers)? Unless, of course, we need to be there to network for our business.

Reflect

Working men and women are unlikely to be surprised by, or to disagree with, the Biblical teaching that people are not naturally good - but are instead naturally drawn toward selfishness and sin. Have you observed that the rich, or those otherwise isolated from the daily challenges of the working world, tend to think of people as essentially good?

Share

What is an example of mercy received by you, despite the circumstances of life that must have been challenging the person or persons to not be merciful, but who chose to be merciful? Share also an example of a fellowship or other gathering (work, school, family, club, etc.) that was challenged by the unexpected arrival of someone who didn’t fit the social norm. How was it handled and what was the outcome? If not handled well, or the outcome was not good, how might it have been handled differently in light of James’ teaching?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a person (at fellowship, school, work, or elsewhere) whom you have judged prejudicially (without sufficient God-filtered information), even partly, based only on exterior appearance or a very shallow interaction.

Action:

Today I am choosing to pray for the one whom I have wronged, even if only in my mind and heart, and I will seek a Holy Spirit-guided opportunity to get to know them better.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (James 2:14-26)

Faith and Works Together

2:14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can this kind of faith save him?

2:15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacks daily food, 2:16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,” but you do not give them what the body needs, what good is it?

2:17 So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself.

2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works.

2:19 You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that – and tremble with fear.

2:20 But would you like evidence, you empty fellow, that faith without works is useless?

2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?

2:22 You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works.

2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness,” and he was called Gods friend.

2:24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

2:25 And similarly, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another way?

2:26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Prayer

Lord, You provided salvation through Jesus the Christ and You sent Your Holy Spirit to bind our salvation and to produce fruit through us. May my works be the fruit of the Holy Spirit and may it be to the glory and purpose of the Lord God.

Summary & Commentary

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works?”

[Note: James revisits a question addressed by Paul from a different perspective, Paul reflected that although it would be better if he were present with the Lord, God had chosen to keep him here on earth so he had to presume that it was not without purpose, therefore he would give himself completely to God’s service.]

“Can this kind of faith save him.”

[Note: James is linking works (the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit) to a genuine saving faith. The absence of works means the absence of the Holy Spirit - thus the absence of a saving faith. He is not teaching works-righteousness for salvation, but rather that fruit/works is an inevitable product of salvation without which salvation is incomplete.]

James goes on to describe a right-application where one does not merely be verbally encouraging to a brother or sister in need but to actually make an effort to practically meet those needs.

“You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that -- and tremble with fear.”

[Note: In the specific local textual context one may take this to refer to the Lord God’s salvation being integrated with the obedient works of those to whom He grants salvation; however, one may also take it as a reference to the Trinity - since the Father told Abraham that his “... belief would be accounted to him as faith”, the Son provided our way to salvation, and the Holy Spirit is the “first down payment” on our salvation and is the One Who prompts us to live-out the fruits (works) of His indwelling presence.]

James recounted the story of Abraham and Issac and the altar to make the point that Abraham’s genuine belief was demonstrated through his obedient actions, he also cited Rahab, concluding “... a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

“For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”

[Note: James reinforced the Biblical teaching that man is uniquely gifted by God with a spirit which makes a man or woman truly human and apart from all other life forms.

Interaction

Consider

The common teaching of Paul and James it would be better if we were present with the Lord God; however, He has chosen to keep us here on earth so we must presume that is was not without purpose, therefore we must give ourselves completely to His service.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to not merely be verbally-encouraging to a brother or sister in need but to actually make an effort to practically meet their needs?

Reflect

The repeated emphasis of the Biblical text that our first priority must always be with brothers and sisters in-faith, rather than the unsaved, should be reflected in our personal and fellowship priorities. (How appealing can it be if we neglect “family” in favor of strangers? Who would want to become “family” under those circumstances?)

Share

What is a practical example where you caught yourself speaking words of encouragement to a struggling brother and sister but failed to recognize that the Lord God had provided sufficient excess so that you could actually meet their immediate practical need? How did you respond to His prompting and what was the result?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the times in your life when you allow the challenges of daily living, or challenges from your past (which you should long-ago have neutralized through forgiveness, prayer, and as-necessary spiritual warfare), to cause you to question the Lord God’s purpose in your life.

Action:

Today I will prayerfully review what the Holy Spirit has made known to me and I will re-commit myself to His service and put aside any doubts as to why He has chosen to keep me here – no matter my worldly circumstances.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (James 3:1-18)

The Power of the Tongue

3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we will be judged more strictly.

3:2 For we all stumble in many ways. If someone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect individual, able to control the entire body as well.

3:3 And if we put bits into the mouths of horses to get them to obey us, then we guide their entire bodies.

3:4 Look at ships too: Though they are so large and driven by harsh winds, they are steered by a tiny rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination directs.

3:5 So too the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it has great pretensions. Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze.

3:6 And the tongue is a fire! The tongue represents the world of wrongdoing among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the entire body and sets fire to the course of human existence – and is set on fire by hell.

3:7 For every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature is subdued and has been subdued by humankind.

3:8 But no human being can subdue the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

3:9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse people made in God’s image.

3:10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters.

3:11 A spring does not pour out fresh water and bitter water from the same opening, does it?

3:12 Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a vine produce figs? Neither can a salt water spring produce fresh water.

True Wisdom

3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct he should show his works done in the gentleness that wisdom brings.

3:14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfishness in your hearts, do not boast and tell lies against the truth.

3:15 Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, natural, demonic.

3:16 For where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is disorder and every evil practice.

3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical.

3:18 And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in peace among those who make peace.

Prayer

Lord, You have warned that those who teach through their lives and their words are accountable the integrity of both, yet one who teaches as an authority is held to a higher standard of accuracy. May I prayerfully-consider every word as spoken before You and as honoring of the fruits of the Spirit given by You.

Summary & Commentary

“Not many of you should become teachers ...”

[Note: One who accepts any role of authority in the transmission of the Lord God’s Word to those who will trust them must be aware that He defends His Word. Those who sit under ones teaching have a right to presume accountability and sound “scholarship” from their teacher - for they are expected to submit to that authority - and though they be “good Bereans” - checking the Word - they are vulnerable to subtle deception - via carelessness or intentional deceit. The Lord takes a dim view of those who mistreat His “children”!]

James notes that “... we all stumble in many ways” and that “... no human being can subdue the tongue”.

[Note: This is why James warns against becoming teachers because the care necessary to minimize error is extraordinary.]

James requires that those who claim to be “... wise and understanding” present evidence of “... good conduct” via “... good works done in the gentleness that wisdom brings.”

James then contrasts false claims of wisdom, “... earthy, natural, demonic” with “wisdom from above”.

False:

“... bitter jealousy”

“...selfishness in your hearts”

“... disorder and every evil practice”

Genuine:

“... first pure”

“... peaceable”

“... gentle”

“... accommodating”

“... full of mercy”

“... full of ... good fruit”

“... impartial”

“... not hypocritical”

“And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in peace among those who make peace.”

Interaction

Consider

The desire of the Lord God is that all who teach be committed to the integrity of the Word of God, thus to protect His “sheep” from the harm of careless and/or false beliefs.

Discuss

How might we better control the incredible power of the tongue to both condemn and praise other believers and to disrespect and to praise the Lord God?

Reflect

In the contrasting lists of the fruits of false and genuine sources of wisdom; do you find any in your life which require attention to relocate from false to genuine?

Share

When have you observed an example of the incredible power of the tongue to both condemn and praise other believers and to disrespect and to praise the Lord God?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to identify at least one place in your life where you have been careless as a teacher, careless in your words, and/or careless as to the source of wisdom you have used.

Action:

Today I agree to partner with the Holy Spirit, with the prayerful accountability of a fellow believer, to get things right with the Lord God.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (James 4)

Passions and Pride

4:1 Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you?

4:2 You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask;

4:3 you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions.

4:4 Adulterers, do you not know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever decides to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy.

4:5 Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, “The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning”?

4:6 But he gives greater grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.”

4:7 So submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you.

4:8 Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you double-minded.

4:9 Grieve, mourn, and weep. Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into despair.

4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.

4:11 Do not speak against one another, brothers and sisters. He who speaks against a fellow believer or judges a fellow believer speaks against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but its judge.

4:12 But there is only one who is lawgiver and judge – the one who is able to save and destroy. On the other hand, who are you to judge your neighbor?

4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into this or that town and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.”

4:14 You do not know about tomorrow. What is your life like? For you are a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishes.

4:15 You ought to say instead, “If the Lord is willing, then we will live and do this or that.”

4:16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

4:17 So whoever knows what is good to do and does not do it is guilty of sin.

Prayer

Lord, You provide the power and wisdom we need. May I mature enough to more-consistently submit to my Lord God and to resist the devil.

Summary & Commentary

4:1 Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you?

James challenged his readers to look to the emotional-spiritual conflict between the “old man” (the persistent flesh with which we endure which still in the world), and the “new man” who is already seen through Christ as clothed in white and in a perfect Heaven - now trying to push away the sin of the world which seeks to stain him/her.

[Note: The latter is a paraphrase from Dr. Neil Anderson of Freedom in Christ ministries.]

4:2 You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask; 4:3 you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions.

As with King David in the Bathsheba tragedy, his son Solomon in his Ecclesiastes lament, and other Biblical characters they missed-out on blessings because of their disobedience.

4:4 Adulterers, do you not know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever decides to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy. 4:5 Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, “The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning”? 4:6 But he gives greater grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.”

James challenges his readers to make a choice, there is no middle ground, choose God or man, the world or the Kingdom.

4:7 So submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you.

James returned to spiritual warfare. Whether we choose to acknowledge it there is a spiritual war raging all around us and we are involved - we ignore it to our peril - we remain defenseless unless we assert our legitimate spiritual authority as children of God.

4:8 Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you double-minded. 4:9 Grieve, mourn, and weep. Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into despair. 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.

God wants us to choose to partner with Him and He longs to bless us for ministry. This means that we will have to grieve and mourn and weep for the loss of filling our fleshy passions. It also means that our temporary laughter and happiness due to the filling of our fleshy passions will be gone. [Note” The term “joy” may be a confusing choice here given the tendency for it to refer to things uniquely-Heavenly elsewhere.]

4:11 Do not speak against one another, brothers and sisters. He who speaks against a fellow believer or judges a fellow believer speaks against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but its judge. 4:12 But there is only one who is lawgiver and judge – the one who is able to save and destroy. On the other hand, who are you to judge your neighbor?

The purpose of the Law was to convict people of their sin, to convince them of their inability to earn salvation through works, and to drive them to humility before Christ. God alone may know and judge the heart (spiritual essence) of a person and to thus know the integrity of their faith-for-salvation.

4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into this or that town and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 4:14 You do not know about tomorrow. What is your life like? For you are a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishes. 4:15 You ought to say instead, “If the Lord is willing, then we will live and do this or that.”

In the parable of the man who tore down his silos to build larger ones Jesus declared that he may die in the night and have no heirs and no eternal hope - James reflects upon the same principle - we must attend to the priorities of God and live in the moment without presuming upon the future. Serve God right now!

4:16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 4:17 So whoever knows what is good to do and does not do it is guilty of sin.

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God wants us to make a choice, there is no middle ground, choose God or man, the world or the Kingdom.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to recognize the spiritual war raging all around us and how me may assert our legitimate spiritual authority as children of our Lord God?

Reflect

The principle is that we must attend to the priorities of the Lord God and live in the moment without presuming upon the future. Serve the Lord right now!

Share

When have you experienced an example of the battle in your life between the temptations of the “old man” and the appeal to righteous living of the “new man”? [Note: If you are not experiencing this “battle” then you may need to revisit your salvation - unless you are claiming a perfect righteousness prior to Heaven!]

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to examine your relationship with the Lord God and reveal to you at least one area where the Lord God is prompting you to mature and to partner with the Holy Spirit to intentionally move toward greater maturity.

Action:

Today I will surrender to the answer to the questions: Am I serving Him right now or am I still procrastinating in favor of worldly priorities? Am I winning the battle for the “new man” or am I too-often surrendering to the temptations of the “old man”? Do I understand spiritual warfare or do I need to find some Biblically-trustworthy discipleship in that area? Do I know what I should do in the area of spiritual warfare but am hesitating like David’s brothers in the face of a Goliath-like giant of a challenge from the enemy in my life?

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (James 5)

Warning to the Rich

5:1 Come now, you rich! Weep and cry aloud over the miseries that are coming on you.

5:2 Your riches have rotted and your clothing has become moth-eaten.

5:3 Your gold and silver have rusted and their rust will be a witness against you. It will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have hoarded treasure!

5:4 Look, the pay you have held back from the workers who mowed your fields cries out against you, and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

5:5 You have lived indulgently and luxuriously on the earth. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

5:6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous person, although he does not resist you.

Patience in Suffering

5:7 So be patient, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s return. Think of how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the ground and is patient for it until it receives the early and late rains.

5:8 You also be patient and strengthen your hearts, for the Lord’s return is near.

5:9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be judged. See, the judge stands before the gates!

5:10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name.

5:11 Think of how we regard as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and you have seen the Lord’s purpose, that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

5:12 And above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath. But let your “Yes” be yes and your “No” be no, so that you may not fall into judgment.

Prayer for the Sick

5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praises.

5:14 Is anyone among you ill? He should summon the elders of the church, and they should pray for him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.

5:15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up – and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

5:16 So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.

5:17 Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain and there was no rain on the land for three years and six months!

5:18 Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land sprouted with a harvest.

5:19 My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back,

5:20 he should know that the one who turns a sinner back from his wandering path will save that person’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Prayer

Lord, You ask us to pray for ourselves and for others, both in need and in thankful praise. May I pray with a right-heart so that my prayers will be unencumbered by sinful desires or carelessness.

Summary & Commentary

James issued a prophesy to the “rich” whom he chastised for hoarding the last days. He told them that all that they have hoarded was ill-gotten and worthless.

He noted that their ill-gotten gains came from withholding what was due their workers and that the Lord God had heard their cries. They had also mistreated righteous people - thus bringing the Lord’s condemnation upon themselves.

[Note: Nowhere in the Bible does the Lord God condemn success or wealth, He only condemns the unjust treatment of workers, the neglect of the welfare of brothers and sisters in Christ when resources would allow one to assist them, and the obsession with wealth that brings arrogance, pride, and selfishness - drawing one away from the Lord and into the values of the world.]

James encouraged the believers to “... be patient and strengthen your hearts”, to avoid grumbling “... against one another” as the Lord God was watching. He encouraged them to look to the prophets for examples of how one might endure with righteousness.

He reminded them of the prohibition against “swearing” on someone or something in order to assert their integrity and to instead be known as people whose “Yes be yes and their No be no.” as a consistent testimony to their integrity.

James then presented a series of instructions for a solid prayer life:

“Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray.”

[Note: The first responsibility for prayer is upon the one who is suffering. Others pray in- agreement with the one in need.]

“Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praises.”

[Note: If we pray when we have needs we should also celebrate when the Lord blesses us.]

“Is anyone among you ill? He should summon the elders of the church, and they should pray for him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith of the one who is sick will raise him up - and even if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

[Note: James emphasizes “... the prayer of faith”, returning to the admonition that we not be double-minded. Also, note James calls for the spiritual leaders of the fellowship to pray in agreement.]

“So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.”

[Note: James is reinforcing the teaching that we need to be accountable to one-another. When we come-clean within the fellowship we keep things transparent and healthy; part of the healing is a result of the Lord God’s direct intervention and part is through the relationships that are strengthened as well as the enriching experience of shared-concern raised in prayer. He is also noting the power of being righteous, in contrast to a double-minded person, when one comes before the Lord in prayer. This is not about certain people in a fellowship being “righteous” and therefore having “magical” prayer-power but that all who pray do so with respect for the One to whom they pray.]

James used Elijah as an example, noting that he was as human as anyone, but that his righteous prayer led to the Lord God stopping and then restarting the rains.

He concluded with a directive that we care for one another by “... turning back” a brother or sister who has drifted away “... from the truth”.

[Note: We are our “brother’s keeper”. We are to watch over others and allow, even encourage, them to watch over us. We no more want to be deceived into drifting away from the truth than we want to see them do so. When we are transparent and mutually-accountable we are stronger.]

Interaction

Consider

James’ exhortation that our “yes be yes and our no be no” was so that our integrity is etched into all that we think, say, and do - leading others to trust us and to want to know about the One Who empowers our integrity.

Discuss

Have you experienced or observed James’ teaching “... be patient and strengthen your hearts”, avoid grumbling “... against one another” as God is watching, and his encouragement for them to look to the prophets for examples of how one might endure with righteousness lived-out?

Reflect

The Lord God’s condemnation of the unjust treatment of workers, the neglect of the welfare of brothers and sisters in Christ when resources would allow one to assist them, and the obsession with wealth that brings arrogance, pride, and selfishness - draws one away from Him and into the values of the world.

Share

When have you observed an example of the practical implementation of James’ series of instructions for a solid prayer life. How did the Lord God answer such prayers?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to compare and contrast your prayer life with James’ instructions.

Action:

Today I am committing to step-up when I fall short and I agree to partner with the Holy Spirit, and at least one fellow believer, to intentionally transform my prayer life.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study – “James” – prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in April of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.