2 My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; 4 and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.
These verses are often a part of our memory when we are struggling in some way. The writer encourages us to have joy, not because of the trial, but because of the transformative work that happens in those spaces. Often trials occur when our plans get derailed. James encourages us to lean into the endurance as a way to become mature and whole, which is God’s plan for us.
- Where are you experiencing trials? What is the basis of your struggle?
- Where do you see this as a place of transformation?
- What does endurance look like for you in this moment?
Gracious God, so often trials are seen as something to be avoided often and overcome as quickly as possible. It is a different paradigm to sit expectantly in our strugles, enduring until you have completed your work of maturity and healing. Give us the patience we need as we allow our faith to be tested. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
5 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. 6 But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; 7, 8 for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
Over the last couple years we have all needed extra doses of wisdom as we have navigated new ways of doing things and uncertainty on many levels. The wisdom that God gives us freely is rooted in our faith in Him and resonates when it emanates out of our trust in HIm as our Provider.
- Where have you needed wisdom in expanded ways recently?
- How have you seen your faith and wisdom meet?
- What distracts you when you look to God for wisdom?
Gracious God, we acknowledge that wisdom tied to our faith needs to grow in all of us as we navigate an ever-changing world. We ask for wisdom and thank you for your generosity and open-heartedness with which you bestow it on us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
9 Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, 10 and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.
James is inviting his readers to God’s economy based on His values. He is calling us all to relinquish our propensity to assess worth based on financial status and live into the reality that wealth (or lack thereof) has any impact on God’s view of His children.
- Can you think of a time when you have measured your worth or the worth of another based on their financial status?
- How might the invitation to ask God for wisdom (from yesterday’s meditation) help us with our perspective on money?
- Where do you need to surrender in the area of money?
Gracious God, so much of the culture that we are a part of seems to run on money, which elevates its value and the value of those who have above anything you have designed. As we live within this culture, give us eyes to see your children as you do, and respect and honor them as you desire for us as your people who live in your economy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
12 Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 13 No one, when tempted, should say, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. 14 But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; 15 then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved.
In this passage, James describes the lifespan of temptation that is nourished and takes root, resulting in fruit that ends in death. This is our experience until we realize that temptation and sin are two different things and God is with us in the midst of our temptation, helping us to endure the pull to destruction.
- Can you think of a time when you endured temptation?
- Where do you find God in the midst of experiencing temptation?
- “Do not be deceived, my beloved.” Imagine James writing this with years in his eyes. Why is this passage so important for you? For us as God’s children?
Gracious God, we acknowledge that we are all pulled to some degree toward thoughts, attitudes, and/or actions that lead to destruction. We call on your mercy and grace to give us the strength to endure and stand the test, so that we might walk the path to life for ourselves and others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
17 Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 In fulfilment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
There is a lot to unpack in these 2 verses.
- What do we learn about God in this passage?
- What has He done for us?
- How does who God is and what He has done for us make a difference in how we live in the world?
Gracious God, we proclaim that you are the source of all that is perfect and thank you for generously pouring your gifts out on us. Help us to lean into you, unchanging and full of light, and live into our place in your family so that we might take on your characteristics and be recognized by others as your children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.