Summary: Part Two of James Study this is the first part of the series
A Heart that Wants to Believe (vv. 5-8)—“Let him ask of God who giveth liberally”
a. “Asking” is 90% of praying, but what are we to ask for? The answer is “wisdom.”
b. James has a lot to say about “wisdom” (1:5; 3:13-18).
Knowledge is the ability to take things apart, while wisdom is the ability to put them together.
Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. Being educated or intelligent does not make one wise, or necessarily give one common sense.
c. Why is wisdom so necessary to seek? Why not strength, or grace or deliverance? Wisdom is the only one of these that will not let us miss the opportunities, which God has given to us to bring us to maturity.
The Wonderful promises made to us when we ask God for Wisdom
o God will give us wisdom
o God will give us a liberal amount – an abundance of wisdom
d. James compares the doubting Christian to the waves of the sea, up and down; or to a “double-minded man.”
Both indicate instability in the mind. Peter exemplified such in his attempt to walk on the water to Jesus (Mt. 14:22-33). At first, he kept his eyes on Jesus, but then the roar of the wind and the tossing of the waves distracted him and he ceased to walk by faith. His double-mindedness almost cost him his life.
A Christian who loves God will trust Him in the trials of life and not become double-minded, i. e. try to love God and the world. Lot was double-minded when trials came to him, in contrast to Abraham, whom triumphed and matured in his faith.
Paul described such a person in a similar way: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ep. 4:14). Immaturity and instability go together.
e. James closes this section with a beatitude: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation” (v. 12). He started and ended with “joy.” Such joy anticipates the Crown of Life, or the Sufferer’s Crown, which awaits every Christian who suffers without faltering, or who endures to patience without complaining. Of course, the main motivation to suffer to maturity is to bring God glory, but the rewards are also out of this world. Each crown is earned here on earth, in order that we can cast them at Jesus’ feet in heaven. First cross, then the crown.
James uses the word “love” to show our true devotion and motivation. Love is behind each of the imperatives in this section. Love is the reason for the joyful attitude in trials, the understanding mind, the surrendered will, and the believing heart. Love involves trust, trusting God in all situations. Count, know, let, and ask your way to growing from an immature baby to a grown and mature pilgrim, as you run the race through this world which is not your home.
The Significance of Trials and Temptations (James 1:13-18)
Sometimes trials are testings on the outside, and sometimes they occur as temptations on the inside. God sends the first and Satan sends the second. Why does James connect the two?
“What is the relationship between testings without and temptations within? Simply this: if we are not careful, the testings on the outside may become temptations on the inside. When our circumstances are difficult, we may find ourselves complaining against God, questioning His love, and resisting His will. At this point, Satan provides us with an opportunity to escape the difficulty. This opportunity is a temptation.” [Be Mature, p. 35]
How to deal with temptations
Look ahead and beware of judgment (vv. 13-16)
There are many biblical illustrations of this problem:
Abraham is tested by a famine in Canaan, but instead of proving God, he turns it into a temptation and goes to Egypt for help.
Israel is wandering in the wilderness and is tested in the lack of water. Instead of turning it into a time for God to work, they allow Satan to work and complained against God.
(1) God does not tempt and cannot tempt, for He is too holy to do that, but He does test. It is the believer that turns testings into temptations.
A temptation is an opportunity to do a good thing but in a wrong way.
Wanting to pass a test in College is a good thing, but cheating to do it is a bad thing.
Temptation is caused by sin and that sin eventuates into a process. James gives four stages to that process:
Desire (v. 14)
Desires are a part of life and not bad in themselves. If we did not desire to eat we would soon die of starvation.