James: A Slave of Christ Day Two: Chapter 1
One of my earliest memories in my marriage is from our very first night together as husband and wife. Before we went to sleep that night, my new husband asked if we could both share a Scripture we had enjoyed that week. Mine was James 1:2: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” Trials are something all of us will experience in our lives, but most often they are not met with joy. As a young wife, I had not yet been called to walk through many difficult seasons, but I would in time. I would experience infertility, miscarriage, chronic pain, and infidelity, to name just a few. James saw trials as an opportunity for developing our faith, and I can certainly appreciate how God has used them in my own life for good, even though they felt anything but good when I was in the thick of it.
One practical piece of advice from James is the reminder that when we are faced with adversity, we can ask our generous God for wisdom. And when we ask, we can expect to receive it. Oftentimes in my own life, I seek the counsel of friends and family first. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, God should be my first Resource. He has given us His Spirit and His Word to guide us through our difficulties. Is this where I first turn to when I feel unsure or troubled, or is it my last resort? James warns us against being divided between God and the world, causing us to be unstable and weak in our faith.
As we face trials and temptations, verse 12 reminds us to patiently endure whatever we are facing. This means we don’t give up and quit when the going gets tough. We don’t become discouraged, wishing away the trial so we can feel immediate relief. James goes on to remind us that our temptations do not come from God, but from our own sinful desires. We often want to blame God when we fall into sin, but we can only look to our own weakness and the sin that so easily lures us from our faith and our intimate connection with God. Our faith may at times be unstable, but tucked into this first chapter is the promise that our God never changes (v.17). When we are unfaithful, He remains faithful—His Word never changes.
How many of us know what God’s Word says, yet we do something entirely different? The end of chapter 1 reminds us of the importance of not only hearing the Word but doing what it says. We often make excuses for our choices and behavior, but in our hearts, we know they are motivated by sin. The battle against our flesh is a daily battle; we will be at war against our sinful desires until the day we die. What is your biggest weakness? It’s so important to identify our weaknesses and take steps every day to stand firm. We have the Spirit to guide us and His Word to show us the way, but each day we must listen for His voice and open our Bibles in order to know the way forward.
This first chapter closes with this powerful exhortation: refuse to let the world corrupt you! We live in this corrupt world—there’s no escaping it. We are touched each day by its influence on our lives and our faith, but we don’t have to let it damage our testimonies. We have been given the tools we need to remain steadfast and immovable—the choice is ours. Our actions will follow our hearts, so I ask this of each one of us: what has your heart? Is it Christ first, or has the influence of the world taken a greater priority? The best way I know to close this devotion today is found in James 1:21: “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
Please read James chapter 1 in addition to today’s devotion.