James 1:1-11 … I’m reminded as we open the book of James, that every book of the Bible is a resource … a rich source of wisdom, comfort, and guidance to the faithful follower of Christ. Those who place their faith in Christ and follow Him are pilgrims, travelers in this world, anticipating our heavenly home. On the way there, we want to be obedient to Christ and availing ourselves of every resource we can. We’ll find the book of James to be very helpful and a place to revisit frequently.
First, who is James? There is a controversy among scholars as there is about anything that can’t be proven from historical records; but most good commentators confidently consider that James was the brother (or, more correctly, “half-brother”) of Jesus. James was a doubter during Jesus’ earthly ministry but became a believer following the crucifixion. You’ll see this James mentioned prominently in the book of Acts as a leader among the Apostles.
The letter is addressed to the dispersed twelve tribes of Israel (the “diaspora”) but you’ll see that its benefit is to all believers in any age. As the letter opens, you have first, trials and testing which produce spiritual growth and endurance. Frankly, I don’t like trials (difficulties that come my way). But the admonition here is to see them in their God-given context. Trials will produce growth and spiritual toughening if we see them in the right light.
Along the way, all of us should want wisdom and understanding … there will be many, many circumstances in life when our own human preparation will not suffice. We’re going to need God’s wisdom and the wonderful thing is that it’s available to us (James 1:5-8). Gaining wisdom ought to be a part of our regular prayer life … asking with full faith (confidence) that God will grant our request. By the way, the book of James will contribute to our confidence in prayer … peek ahead to James 5:16 … “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
Finally, our beginning in James will give us encouragement in humility, with a bit of humor thrown in. James 1:9 indicates that the humble man ought to glory in his “high” position (because humility is a spiritually correct position to be in), while the person of high material position ought to seek a humble position, because material wealth in life contributes nothing to our knowledge of Christ and our relationship with Him. Real wealth in life is knowing Christ!