James (a half brother of Jesus) writes his letter to those of us who are suffering all kinds of different hardships and tests of life. He personally understands what it means to suffer and how pain makes us vulnerable to shame, doubt, lust, deception, anger, and pride. But he also knows that in suffering, there’s a unique opportunity for God to perfect and complete the valuable character-building work he started in us.
God meets us with wisdom as we face the tests of life. When we listen closely to his wise words of truth, trusting that he is good and responding with action, we begin to experience the wholeness God designed us for. And those around us experience it too.
When we see our sufferings through the wisdom and goodness of God, we are moved to alleviate human suffering whenever we encounter it, especially the sufferings of the most vulnerable in our communities.
But when we forget God’s goodness, we often allow our own pain to provoke selfish actions and cruel words that destroy our communities. There’s a lot at stake, so James urges us to listen carefully and respond tangibly.
At a Glance
NIV Bible James Introduction
James, one of the brothers of Jesus, became a leader of the church in Jerusalem after Jesus’ death and resurrection. He was respected for the advice he gave and for the wise decisions he helped the community of believers make (see Acts 15:13-21). At one point he decided to write down some of his best teachings and advice and send them to other Jewish believers in Jesus who were scattered throughout the Roman Empire. What he wrote to them has become known as the book of James.
This book begins like a letter because it’s being sent to people at a distance. But it is actually not very much like other letters of the time. It is a collection of short sayings and slightly longer discussions of practical topics. The conversational style, the short, pithy sayings and the interweaving of themes all make this book similar to the wisdom writing found in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.
Like those wisdom books, James concentrates on questions of daily living in God’s good creation. He considers such practical issues as concern for the poor, the responsible use of wealth, control of the tongue, purity of life, unity in the community of Christ-followers, and above all patience and endurance during times of trial. The godly wisdom here remains as valuable a guide to living fully human lives as when James first shared it centuries ago.
As of 12/2023 Spoken Gospel has no james introduction
2010 James Series (Sundays)
2019 James Series (Mid Week)
James 4:13-17, 5:1-6