We quickly discover that James isn't someone who beats around the bush. He's not afraid to be blunt and in the face of his readers. In this short passage it feels like he's already told us to enjoy suffering (v2), that we're unstable if we have doubts when we pray (v7-8), that we'll be lucky not to get snuffed out if we're wealthy (v11), and that we're all going to die because of our sin (v14-15)!
Although it might feel like James is out to get us, he actually cares about his readers a great deal and three times in this chapter he describes us as his close family (v2, 16, 19). Maybe he's not gunning for us after all. Although he seems harsh at times, there's more to it than that. This is why he also wants us to know that...
- God allows our faith to be tested so we can grow strong and be complete (v2-4)
- God offers us wisdom and he's generous and gracious (v5)
- God has little regard for earthly wealth but values the humble (v9-11)
- God promises rewards for those who love him and persevere (v12)
- God is not a tempter but he allows us the freedom to choose our own way (v13-14)
- God loves to give us good things and he never changes (v17)
- God offers us new life and a fresh start with him (v18)
This is the amazing reality on offer to those who choose to follow Jesus. To be honest, I think it's a wonder how anyone survives without it! It's certainly taken my mind off the frustration of losing the internet today! If you're a Christian, have another look at the list above and thank God for his character and his gifts to you, even in the midst of trials and suffering. If you're not, consider what James is saying about God and try and think about where on earth you could find this reality anywhere else.