The Book Of James has been called the most practical book in the Bible. The theme of the Book of James is faith. James' concept of faith is not any different from rest of the New Testament, except that James puts more emphasis on results. James' message is that if you are a person of faith, there are ways to demonstrate it in your everyday life. James seems to have the notion that a Christian's faith ought to affect his behavior. Isn’t THAT a radical concept?
We begin by stating the underlying truth that everyone has faith of some kind. You take your can opener and open a can of food and eat it because you have faith that it will not hurt you. You get on a plane and sit back and relax because you have faith that the pilot knows how to fly the plane. You go to a doctor whose name you cannot pronounce, get and take a prescription you cannot read for a disease you know little about ….all on faith. Everyone has faith of that kind, a sort of general variety of faith. That is a faith born of practice. The thing you have faith in has happened so often before you don’t even think about it anymore.
But, that is not the kind of faith James is talking about. He is talking about a special kind of faith, a kind of faith that is grounded in Jesus Christ, and which is reflected in several ways. If my faith has truly reached the point of maturity, it will allow me to experience joy, even in times of trials and hardship. Look at James 1: 2-4: “2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Also, my faith demands that I seek wisdom through prayer. Look at James 1: 5-8: “5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
My faith, if mature, helps me avoid sin by making a commitment to righteousness. “12Blessed 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. 13When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1: 12-15). It is clear here that James is saying that we do not have to yield to sin. The temptation to sin comes to everyone, but there are those who seem to feel yielding to it is inevitable. That is not true. We can resist temptation and when we do we receive the crown of life. A youngster sat on the roadside looking at the big beautiful apples hanging on the tree jus over the fence. The farmer came by and asked, Boy, are you trying to steal my apples?" The boy said, "No sir. I'm trying not to steal one."
A mature faith helps us resist temptation.
The last thing I want to say about a mature faith is that it helps me honor God through giving of thanks. “16Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” The implication from James is that only good things come from God. We should not feel that temptation comes from God, although God will allow it to come. God is a God who loves us and wants to give us good things. Faith helps us to see that no matter what happens, God loves us.