At the beginning of The Book of James and his letter to the Jewish Christians around the world, James begins to bring up the three major themes that would permeate the rest of the book. For James, faith was not an abstract construct that remains internal to all of us. Instead, faith was something to be lived out and expressed. The book of James presents a unique expression for those who needed to understand how to live out their faith. Difficult times would come for every believer, but the way we handle these situations puts God on full display. We trust God for the joy, we trust God for the wisdom, and we trust God for the provision.
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.”
Consider It Joy
James does not downplay the fact that those who follow Christ in their faith will experience difficulties. Nor should we. We will all go through times of trials and temptations. In fact, the bible makes it clear that by choosing to follow God will make the times of trial and temptation more frequent than if not. After all, when the flesh and the enemy feels threatened, it will push back. But this time of trial and temptation will not defeat us. It will refine our faith. The only option for walking through trials and temptations is to rely on the presence of God to see us through. Trust in God guides the believer through the difficult times and wisdom will provide the discernment on how to handle the situations.
Ask for Wisdom
Yet, where do we get wisdom if we want to navigate the difficulties we encounter on a daily basis? Simple. We ask God. God, being the creator of truth in all circumstances will gladly reveal Himself and His nature to us. This is why James exhorts us so strongly to ask for wisdom, knowing that God will not withhold it. God is not interested in withholding truth but in guiding those who would come after Him to repent from the life that was killing them and ushering them into a true relationship. The flesh was killing us and wisdom shows us that the only way to be saved is by putting our faith in the Lord. Everything comes down to our departing the ways of the flesh and relying fully on God.
Humility in Low Circumstances
Our culture, however, does not see much value in needing to rely on others. The call for Christians is to empty ourselves of ourselves. But the world calls for the accumulation of personal power, influence, and money. The world says the lowly position is to be despised and everyone should strive for more. God says the lowly will have the place of honor. For those who put their trust in money, wealth, influence and power, one day they will die and all they have accomplished will amount to nothing. It is only those who have sought after the Lord, the true gift that is unseen, who understand the grand story being told into eternity.
God is everything. As we put our faith and trust in God, James exhorts the believer strongly to allow that faith to be expressed through our lives. The life of a Christian should look different than the life of a non-believer simply because we have been changed. When God has His way in us, the hand of God extends through us. Our heart is changed and what we do is redeemed.