James 1: 12 – 18
He returns to his earlier theme of encouraging his Jewish counterparts in the midst of temptation and trial. One would have thought that he had ended his treatise on the subject, but he presents another dimension to the whole saga.
It is important to remember his audience and the reason for this Book. James was writing to the Jews in diaspora; it was one of the first Books of the New Testament and was written before the Pauline Epistles. All through the Book, there was no mention of the Church or Gentiles. It was a Book that was written specifically for the Jews. Therefore, it is no surprise that there was a mention of the synagogue and the Old Testament ceremonies and Law. By this, one should expect to read about some do’s and don’ts in the Book. This does not mean that we can’t glean from the so many things he said but we ought to apply them from the Grace perspective.
So James wouldn’t have referred to the Pauline Epistles because they weren’t written at that time and this is the reason why there is a difference between his writing and that of Apostle Paul. James’ quotes were more from the Old Testaments (coupled with some from Jesus, who had not died at that time). When you read through the Epistles presented by James and the other disciples (Peter and John, most especially), they wrote like the coming of the Lord was going to happen so soon in their time; they felt Jesus (the soon coming King) was going to come and setup His Kingdom and according to Scriptures, before that happens, they would have gone through a time of tribulation.
He wrote having all these in hindsight.
He told them that they should be happy because they were going through the pressure and the trials knowing that God had promised to give a crown of life to all who loved Him. Passing the test could mean torture for some while for some they may have to lose their lives. The idea was for them to persevere because what awaits them is bigger and better than what they were going through. This was more like what Jesus said before He died; He said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
From the statement above, the next statement anyone would make or assume is that their pain was from God and James was quick to answer them in the next verse. He said, “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way.” James’ idea was that the people were their own worst enemies. According to him, the resultant effect of the wrong they did was the reason for the tribulation they suffered and this brings back the message to Job by his friends. One of them said that Job must have done something wrong and as a result he must suffer the penalties.
This is quite contrary to what Apostle Paul spoke of. He talked much about boasting in his sufferings knowing that through the sufferings, the reality of God’s love would be made evident to him. He also said, “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”
In the dispensation of Grace, you don’t have to do something bad before the pressure of life comes, Jesus said, “persecution will arise because of the Word.” James did not know better than the Old Testament and its writings. The moment anything bad happens to people in that dispensation, they quickly allot it to something they have done wrong and immediately they looked for ways to make amendment or restitution, as they called it then.
James did not stop at that, he went on to describe how temptation gives birth to Sin and then to Death. Again and again, James didn’t know better than the Old Testament so he kept referring to it but on the contrary, the Sin that brings death according to Paul is different from what James was talking about. Paul said, the wages of Sin is death and the gift of God is life.
James told them not to err by thinking all the tribulation had come from God. He made them understand that bad things don’t come from God, rather, that every good and perfect gift comes from God and according to him, the times of pressure and tribulation is not something he sees as good. He said, “So, my very dear friends don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.”
As new dispensation Christians, what we can draw from this is that, nothing happens to us when there is enticement and no desire. When there is a desire, no matter how little, it doesn’t take much from enticement before we start to sin. When there is no desire, there is no energy to fall into sin, so take care of that desire. You will always have a desire to be enticed and knowing us, human beings, we would always desire things…May God help us.
“When we sail in Christ’s company, we may not make sure of fair weather, for great storms may toss the vessel which carries the Lord Himself, and we must not expect to find the sea less boisterous around our little boat. Paul, who had more to suffer than we have, called his afflictions light, and yet we often consider ours to be heavy – surely something must be amiss with the weights” – C.H Spurgeon
Keep it right here and be refreshed!