I am not a commentary, I don't like it when we have to ask "what do you think they meant by that", or pull every single word out and try to figure it out. For me, I have to take bite size pieces and chew on it for a bit, whether I agree with it or not, as it is written so shall it be.
So, let's take a peak at James. We will talk about the first chapter today as we meander our way around some bends in the road, some alley ways, some really neat sights. I will be using some other sites for help on the questions too. So, buckle up...
Who is James?
James was a disciple of Jesus; brother of John; author of the Epistle of James in the New Testament. James is book number 59 of the Bible and number 20 of the New Testament. It contains 5 chapters. The Epistles were letters of instruction and doctrine by Peter, Paul, John and others to the early, newly established churches
5 If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask [for wisdom] in faith, without doubting [God’s willingness to help], for the one who doubts is like a billowing surge of the sea that is blown about and tossed by the wind. 7 For such a person ought not to think or expect that he will receive anything [at all] from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable and restless in all his ways [in everything he thinks, feels, or decides].
Let's stop there, for a bit, how does that feel? Soak all that in. Let's read it again, this time slower and more precise.
Now, let's ask this, you may want to dig out your notebook and write it down.
Explain how temptations can be good. Should we deliberately allow
ourselves to be placed in tempting situations? Why? What can you learn from that?
What is the connection between wisdom, prayer, and Bible study, how can you get all those out of reading the Word of God?
Define “double-minded,” and explain how God looks at such a man.
Here is from another site http://www.gotquestions.org/double-minded.html:
The term double-minded comes from the Greek word dipsuchos, meaning “a person with two minds or souls.” It’s interesting that this word appears only in the book of James (James 1:8; 4:8). Bible scholars conclude that James might have coined this word. To grasp the full meaning of this word, it is best to understand how it is used within its context.
James writes of the doubting person that he is “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does” (James 1:6–8). A doubter is a double-minded person. Jesus had in mind such a person when He spoke of the one who tries to serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). As such, he is “unstable,” which comes from a Greek word meaning “unsteady, wavering, in both his character and feelings.”
A double-minded person is restless and confused in his thoughts, his actions, and his behavior. Such a person is always in conflict with himself. One torn by such inner conflict can never lean with confidence on God and His gracious promises. Correspondingly, the term unstable is analogous to a drunken man unable to walk a straight line, swaying one way, then another. He has no defined direction and as a result doesn’t get anywhere. Such a person is “unstable in all he does.”
Those who are double-minded do not have the faith spoken of in Hebrews 11:1, 3: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. . . . By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” We cannot be both “certain” and doubting, as is the double-minded person. One part of his mind is sure of something, while the other part doubts. It brings to mind the “pushmi-pullyu” of the Dr. Doolittle stories, an animal with a head at either end of its body and which was constantly trying to walk in two directions at once. Such is the double-minded man.
God will not grant His blessings upon those who are double-minded. As Jesus pointedly declared, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24). God and the things of this world are of such opposite natures that it is impossible to love either one completely without hating the other. Those who try to love both will become unstable in all their ways. God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14) and will not accept a service that is divided with Satan.
That was a huge sight to see wasn't it? That view was amazing. But let's continue on...
9 Let the brother in humble circumstances glory in his high position [as a born-again believer, called to the true riches and to be an heir of God]; 10 and the rich man is to glory in being humbled [by trials revealing human frailty, knowing true riches are found in the grace of God], for like the flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; its flower falls off and [c]its beauty fades away; so too will the rich man, in the midst of his pursuits, fade away.
That is a lot isn't it? Meaty and Mighty is the Lord, Glory! Let's keep this journey going. Hope we haven't lost you yet...
Here's a few more questions.
In what should the lowly brother and the rich brother glory (vv 9,10)?
Let us look at the illustration used in vv 10,11 showing that rich people will fade away. (Think:
Why should a rich man glory in humility?)
Got those? Oh good, let's continue down the road, a bit more.
12 Blessed [happy, spiritually prosperous, favored by God] is the man who is steadfast under trial and perseveres when tempted; for when he has passed the test and been approved, he will receive the [victor’s] crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God” [for temptation does not originate from God, but from our own flaws]; for God cannot be tempted by [what is] evil, and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion).
15 Then when the illicit desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin has run its course, it gives birth to death. 16 Do not be misled, my beloved brothers and sisters. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow [d]cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes]. 18 It was of His own will that He gave us birth [as His children] by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits of His creatures [a prime example of what He created to be set apart to Himself—sanctified, made holy for His divine purposes].
Whew! That was a lot! We are almost there. Take a rest. What is the Lord speaking to you? What can we see that James is teaching us? Can God tempt us? How do we get tempted then? What happens with sin?
What do you see in verse 17? Do you believe it? We are to be quick to hear and slow to speak, slow to anger.
Let's finish this chapter and see what we find out.
19 Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]; 20 for the [resentful, deep-seated] anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God [that standard of behavior which He requires from us]. 21 So get rid of all uncleanness and [e]all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls.
22 But prove yourselves doers of the word [actively and continually obeying God’s precepts], and not merely listeners [who hear the word but fail to internalize its meaning], deluding yourselves [by
unsound reasoning contrary to the truth]. 23 For if anyone only listens to the word [f]without obeying it, he is like a man who looks very carefully at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he immediately forgets [g]what he looked like. 25 But he who looks carefully into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and faithfully abides by it, not having become a [careless] listener who forgets but [h]an active doer [who obeys], he will be blessed and favored by God in what he does [in his life of obedience].
26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious [scrupulously observant of the rituals of his faith], and does not control his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religion is worthless (futile, barren). 27 Pure and unblemished religion [as it is expressed in outward acts] in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit and look after the fatherless and the widows in their distress, and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the [secular] world.
What is the illustration of the mirror (vv 23,24)?
Ask Him what do you want me to learn here?
I want to get through to you, that you are important. That learning the Word of God is even more so. When we Hide God's Word in our Heart it can never be taken from us, even in the oldest of age.
How we deal with life when we have the Word deeply abiding in us and how we view the world when Jesus dwells in our everyday.
So how are you doing with this? Is it too much? Slow it down a bit, take smaller bites. Find yourself in the midst of the reading and stop and ask Him what you need to hear. Pray about it. Soak it in. Apply what you are reading. It can change your life. You are special and He created you to be. Let's continue to see you as the Lord does.
Thank you for coming down this road to James-land 1 with me. We will head to James-land 2 in a day or two. Please join me. I learned something today as I hope you did.
Reading the Word of God isn't hard, but it is slowing ourselves down to take bite size morsels and enjoying the flavor of each bite. Sometimes we just want to get it done, so we hurry so we can check it off our list of to do things. But it's not about how fast we do something, it's about what we learn while we do it. Until we meet again, May the peace of God, all the understanding that His peace brings be with you.