While studying the book of James, we learn that real Christian faith can be shown by our good works. James clarifies and encourages Christians to view trials as opportunities for spiritual growth. If any of us thinks it is enough to believe in God, James says in James 2:19, “The devils also believe and tremble.” Life-changing faith in Jesus Christ must be the answer!
The book of James gives us practical wisdom for living a Christian life. What can we gain spiritually by submitting ourselves to God? This suddenly allows us to understand that nothing can be done without the help of God. We must continue to remember how we depend on God for life itself and everything we accomplish. Whatever we own and all that we do to help others are gifts from God. As the eldest brother of Jesus, (Matthew 13:55) and as someone who was not initially a believer, James is a powerful example of the change that can take place in our lives once we surrender to Christ.
How does Satan tempt us to doubt God? Satan can make us feel that we are self-sufficient and powerful enough to meet our own needs. We can read Matthew 4 to learn how Jesus was challenged to obtain power over the world by Satan who used other tactics to persuade Jesus to doubt God. For us, each day, Satan helps us to respond to hardships with bitterness or we can be tempted to believe that good things do not come from God or that we can have faith in God without changing our lifestyles. When we submit to God, we become more aware of our shortcomings. Our sorrow can help us to repent. How does God help us to become stronger spiritually? Some known strategies may include being humble before God and let Him exalt us because He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
In solving our day-to-day problems, we are to follow the clear advice that James gives when our faith is being tested. Some of his ideas include being quick to listen, slow to anger, not favoring the rich over the poor, doing good things for others, controlling the tongue and our desires. We cannot forget to surrender to God and to rely on His wisdom. Do not brag about what you will do, use your money, especially if you are rich, to help others. Be kind and patient as we pray for God’s help!
What can we learn about faith and works? Is faith without works dead? James says what good is it to say we have faith, when we do nothing to show it? His examples are simple to understand when he speaks (James 2:14-19) of sharing our resources with others. In James 2:24, he says that we please God by what we do and not only by what we believe. Chapter 2 also gives examples of Abraham’s faith and deeds as they worked together. Everything that we learn in this book is helpful especially when James presents trials and tribulations as tests from God, whereby believers can gain strength and endurance. The central message from the book of James is the insistence that faith requires action! This conviction lets us know that faith is dead without works. James was a man of action and emphasized an active plan of action for all believers in his letter which list specifics for our lives also.
Written shortly after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the book of James provides us with early glimpses of Christianity. Additionally, James, a brother of Jesus left excellent examples of moving from unbelief to faith. James became a well respected leader. His letter tells us how faith and actions work together while revealing what Jesus can do in the lives of all who love and long to follow Him!
Mrs. Gladys R. McElmore, a resident of Norfolk’s Middle Town Arch Community, is a New Journal and Guide Freelance Contributor on religion. She is a native of Essex County, Va.