James 1

Such as have a true title in Jesus Christ through faith may expect to be called upon to endure many tests of faith, but the genuineness of their calling will be manifest by their stability in trial, their fidelity to God and the principles of Christianity, their activity in good works and the control of the carnal nature at all times. God is the source of wisdom and power continually.

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:

10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.

11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.

27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

James 1:1-11 – ​Steadfast Faith

   This Epistle is marked by the austere features of the Jerusalem church, which refused to be affected by that wider contact with the Gentile world, by which the life and teachings of St. Paul were so powerfully influenced. “Brother to Jesus” was the designation that James might have used, but he preferred the more modest title of servant. The slaves of such a king are nobles! The times were full of severe testing. Each believer had to face ignominy, loss and death for his testimony to Jesus and His saving power. But James encourages these harried souls by the immense revenues that would accrue, more especially in the acquisition of patience. While patience is drawn out almost to the breaking-point, God is developing our characters with perfect beauty, so that no side is incomplete.
   There are three urgent requirements for us all: (1) Wisdom to act and speak wisely in the hour of trial; (2) faith that refuses to respond to the surging billows of doubt; (3) humility and contentment with God’s dealings. —Through the Bible Day by Day

​James 1:5 – The natives of India had a saying about Sir Henry Lawrence—”When Sir Henry looked up twice to heaven and once down to earth, and then stroked his beard, he knew what to do.” If we may utilize the saying, it seems to express the attitude of mind with which all life’s work and study should be done. The reverence which looks up, and the observation which looks around, combined with the judgment that can reflect, become safeguards against the falsehoods of extremes. There is an observation which is keen enough, but which, never looking upward, has no reverence; there is a pious reverence which, in its rapt and heavenward gaze, forgets to look earthward, and so loses touch with humanity; but he who, while regarding heaven, does not forget the world in which he lives and seeks to know also the man within, will avoid alike the dogmatism which is irreverent and the mysticism which is unpractical. (Bishop of Ripon)

James 1:5 – Our Lord does everything on the largest and most generous scale. Does Christ, our Creator, go forth to make leaves? He makes them by the whole forest full—notched like the fern, or silvered like the aspen, or broad like the palm thickets in the tropics. Does He go forth to make flowers? He makes plenty of them; they flame from the hedge, they hang from the top of the grapevine in blossoms, they roll in the blue wave of the violets, they toss their white surf into the spirea—enough for every child’s hand a flower, enough to make for every brow a chaplet, enough with beauty to cover up the ghastliness of all the graves. Does He go forth to create water? He pours it out, not by the cupful, but by a river-full, a lake-full, an ocean-full, pouring it out until all the earth has enough to drink, and enough with which to wash. Does Jesus, our Lord, provide redemption? It is not a little salvation for this one, a little for that, and a little for the other; but enough for all. “Whosoever will, let him come.” Each man an ocean-full for himself. Promises for all, pardon for all, comfort for all, mercy for all, heaven for all. (Talmage)

James 1:6 – ​Take the bow of faith and the arrow of prayer. (MacDuff)

​James 1:6 – God cares not for the length of our prayers, or the number of our prayers, or the beauty of our prayers, or the place of our prayers. It is the faith in them that tells. (Talmage)

James 1:6 – ​Never was faithful prayer lost at sea. No merchant trades with such certainty as the praying saint. Some prayers, indeed, have a longer voyage than others; but then they come with the richer lading at last. (Gurnall)

James 1:12-18 – ​God Rewards, Not Tempts

   The word temptation may stand for trial and testing, without implying that there is any necessary impulse toward evil; or it may stand for the direct impulse of the evil one. Here, however, it is used in this latter sense. But of whatever kind the temptation is, whether upward or downward, whether of pain and sorrow at the permission of God, or of direct solicitation to evil at the suggestion of Satan, those who refuse to swerve from their high quest of nobility attain to higher levels of life. In the words of this paragraph, they receive the crown of life “here” and hereafter.
   Notice the genealogy of sin (v. 15). Lust is the parent of sin, and sin when matured is the parent of death. How different to the blackness of this dark picture is the light and glory of our Father’s home and realm! All the good things of our lives are from His good hand. He is not fickle and changeable. Even our sin cannot make Him turn away. His sun still shines on the evil and the good, and His rain descends on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). We are His children; let us be sweet to the taste as the grapes of Eschol! —Through the Bible Day by Day

James 1:12 – ​Let Satan’s fiery darts inflame your love rather than your lust, and, like a skillful pilot, make use of the violence of the winds and raging of the sea to further you in your spiritual voyage. (Charnock)

​James 1:17 – There be many Christians most like unto young sailors who think the shore and the whole land doth move when the ship and they themselves are moved. Just so, not a few imagine that God moveth, and saileth, and changeth places because their giddy souls are under sail and subject to alteration, to ebbing and flowing. But the foundation of the Lord abideth sure. (Rutherford)

James 1:19-27 – ​Doers, Not Hearers Only

   Keep your mouth closed when you are angry; the inner fire will die out of itself, if you keep the doors and windows shut. In verse 18 we are taught that God’s truth is the agent of regeneration; in verse 21 it is the means of deepening our consecration. It is a blessed thing, when not only the words, but the Word of God is engrafted on the wild stock of our nature.
   The one and only way of making holy impressions permanent is by translating them into Christian living. It is not enough to see ourselves reflected in the mirror of God’s Word; we must so continue, not as hearers who forget, but as doers that perform. Many appear to think that blessedness results from hearing, and are always on foot to attend new conventions. No; the true blessedness accrues from doing. The heart of our Christian faith is purity, the stainless garb of the soul, and thoughtful ministration to the widow and orphan—but these are possible only through the indwelling of Christ by the Holy Spirit. —Through the Bible Day by Day


Parsimony often walks under the name of prudence, and stinginess may try to palm itself off as thrift. The man who puts aside the widowed and orphaned, by the plea that he is laying in store for a rainy day, takes extreme hazards with Fate. Her hand even now draws aside the curtains which reveal his destiny. The rainy day comes sooner than he thinks and his mortal remains are carried to the grave unattended by the sad procession of any whose distress he might have lifted. Holdfast is forever held in the tomb of his loneliness and misery. He sadly misread life’s great lesson, that it is far better to give than to receive. He never knew that he was his brother’s keeper. He lived for self and died as he lived. Although nominally religious such men as Holdfast never learn that “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

James 1:27

James 1:27—Unspotted from the world.

​   “The white flower of a blameless life!” The view of pure and undefiled religion presented in this definition was characteristic of James, surnamed the Just, who was revered even by the Jews for his austere piety, and whose vesture of simple white was emblematic of his stainless character. Whatever may be our views about the doctrines of Christianity, we must see to it that their outcome be in pure and holy living. Orthodoxy of view is utterly worthless unless it be combined with orthodoxy of life. This was the side of truth on which James insisted.
   What a beautiful conception is here! The unspotted life! No book is like the Bible in its conceptions of sin; indeed, we owe to it the thought of sin, and its evil in the sight of God. But there is no book with so lofty an ideal of what life may become when it is yielded to the grace of Christ. A cleansed heart, and an unspotted robe; no sin allowed and permitted in the soul, and no evil habit allowed to dominate and enthral the life.
   But how is it to be ours? (1) Put the grave of Christ between you and your former life, and so reckon that you are dead to all solicitations that would induce you to live according to the lusts and passions that dominate the rest of the Gentiles, (2) Seek by use to exercise your spiritual senses, that you may be quick to discern the first and most distant approach of temptation, that so it may find you hidden in the risen living Savior. (3) Let the blood of Jesus be instantly applied, so that you may be immediately cleansed from the least spot that may have defiled your dress. (4) Keep away your eyes, and speech, and feet, from all scenes and society that have a defiling influence. —Our Daily Homily

James 1:27 – ​The purest lives I have known have not been those carefully screened from the world, but which, coming up in it, have kept themselves unspotted. The sweetest and truest have grown and ripened under conditions, you would say, most hostile, but which have been wrought into the means of a grandly elevated faith and life. (Ware)