Jesus Christ hears us and listens to our prayers. He is patient and kind. He is slow to speak; He gives ample time for us to repent and consider the error of our ways. This study is a brief review of James 1:1-20. The section ends reminding us that God wants to produce righteousness in us. So, the following is just to highlight what that “righteousness” looks like in the heart and life of a believer. I’ll give a list below that is in no way complete or comprehensive; on the contrary, it really is meant to be fuel for thought for people who would seek to put their faith in Christ and to be a light of Christ’s love in a world that lives without him.
We must be careful not to make the same mistake that so many in the world make. Just because God is not doling out justice now, we should not assume that He not displeased at our sin. God is slow to anger, but as Peter wrote: “Do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9, ESV).
James starts his books with some basic points:
- You know that God has a purpose for your problems—in short, they work character traits like patience. Patience perfects your faith.
- Our human nature naturally, resists direction and correction from God, but a sign of healthy and growing faith is asking the Lord for wisdom regarding everything.
- Expect the Lord to answer your prayers. Come to Him realizing you are a work in progress.
- Doubt is like being tossed in a boat on the sea. The disciples experienced this literally a couple of times. They knew where they were going, but were not sure if they were going to get there. Do you know where God wants you to be (morally, in giving, in being helpful, in loving and trusting Christ)?
- Material wealth and success is not the same thing as spiritual prosperity. Define your success based on the person and work of Jesus Christ in you.
- The section loops back to endurance (v. 12). Centering on self is a fatal flaw, while focusing on God’s goodness is safe. God doesn’t change and is only interested in our good, so there is great blessing and hope in being “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”
James is only beginning. He wants you to have a depth of character like that of Christ. Next James turns to the importance of God’s Word, the Bible. He’ll give us a concrete and dependable means though which God works healthy, productive faith in Christ.