Summary: The theme of James is more than patience through trials. James is exhorting us to stay FAITHFUL in the face of PERSECUTION. He is exhorting us to KEEP the FAITH.
There’s a familiar story about the new bride who is cooking a big family dinner. As the ladies are gathered in the kitchen, the bride puts the roast in the pan and asks her mother why we always cut the end of the roast and put it in another pan? They ask grandma who says, “well honey, I cut the end off of the roast and put it in another pan because my roasting pan was too small!”
There are several variations of that story.
In one variation a young bride puts a pan of water in the oven every time she bakes a cake. She figured that this somehow added moisture to the cake. On one occasion her mother is visiting and asks, “why do you put a pan of water in the oven to bake a cake?” The bride replied, “well mom, that’s the way you always did it.” “Yes,” the mother replied, “but that’s because my oven racks were uneven.”
In one variation, a young bride is thawing the turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner. She puts the bird in the sink and covers it with a dishpan. “Mom, what is the purpose for putting a dishpan on top of the turkey to thaw?” “Sweetie, I put a dishpan on top of the turkey because we had cats.”
Finally, from “humor in uniform” comes the story of the young Seabee electrician who was electrocuted from working on a live fixture. The Master Sergeant visited him in the infirmary and chewed him out. “What made you think you could work on a live fixture?” The apprentice replied, “Sir, I was trying to save time and I’ve seen you stand on one leg, grab the wires and splice them without turning off the power. ” The Master Sergeant replied, “You dummy - didn’t you notice that I’ve got a wooden leg?”
That story was from a collection called “Wooden You Know It” by Peg Mickleson.
Source of stories http://www.snopes.com/weddings/newlywed/secret.asp
SMALL MISUNDERSTANDINGS can become perpetual realities if left uncorrected. Such is the case in the study of the book of James.
I believe that a small misunderstanding about the way that a key word in James has been translated has left us missing the main point of the book.
The misunderstood word is the Greek word ὑπομονή (noun) or ὑπομένω (verb). The word most often is translated “patience” or “endurance.” But here in James the emphasis is on remaining steadfast in the face of persecution or trials.
Notice how the meaning shifts to being patient through trials when we translate ὑπομονή with the word “patience.”
(KJV 1900) — 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.
(NIV84) — 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
(NASB95) — 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
(KJV 1900) — 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.
(NIV84) — 12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
(NASB95) — 12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
(KJV 1900) — 11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
(NIV84) — 11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
(NASB95) — 11 We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.
Based on these translations from the KJV (but also continued in the NASB and NIV), many approached James as a book that teachers us Patience during trials.
But the ESV gets closer to the intent of James.
James 1:3-4 (ESV) “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”