Last fall, I preached a series of messages entitled, “Necessities of Life” — six truths every follower of Christ needs to believe and six activities ever Christian needs to do in order to thrive as a Christian.
In James 1, the apostle has something of a similar list of principles that will transform and change one’s life. They may not be easy to, but they are essential.
- When in a trial (a test of character), rejoice (vv. 2-4).
- When you are perplexed or foolish, ask God for wisdom (vv. 5-8).
- When your social standing is humble, low, and insignificant, boast in your position in Christ (v. 9).
- When your social standing is high and you have been given much material wealth, boast in your humility before Christ (vv. 10-11).
- When you are in trial, persevere in faithfulness to God by remembering the eternal promises of God for those who are faithful (v. 12).
- When you are tempted, do not blame God and do accept the culpability of your own flesh (vv. 13-18).
- In every circumstance of life, be quick to hear the Word of God, slow to speak against the providence of God, and slow to be angry against God (vv. 19-20).
- In every circumstance of life, receive and accept the Word of God by obeying (and not just listening to) the Word of God (vv. 21-27).
Two things are striking about this list. First, it is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive to the flesh. The responses called for by God are not what one will find counseled by Dr. Phil or Oprah (and that’s encouraging!). No one will succeed in life by following the counsel of the world.
And secondly, the circumstances described by James are typical — all men will suffer difficulties and at times will not know what to do, and sometimes they will have little materially, and at other times they will have much, and all men will feel the pressure to “quit” life, and all men will be enticed by sin, and all men will wrestle with what to do with the Word of God. And in each of these typical life circumstances, God’s Word has something wise to say about how to live to please the Lord.