(If you haven’t done so, please read James 1: 1-8)
James 1: 2-4 “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Notes on Content
1:1-4 James: is a Greek form of the Hebrew name “Jacob.” servant: or “slave.” this title is used for other apostolic writers (Peter and Paul) and for earlier biblical figures (Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David and the Prophets.) Jesus Christ: mentioned only twice in the letter; here and in 2:1. the twelve tribes: descendants of the 12 sons of Jacob who have accepted Jesus as the Messiah.
It is interesting to note that this opening address recalls the Greek version of Is 49: 1-6 where Jacob is the servant of the Lord who calls out to the tribes of Israel in their dispersion with a message of salvation.
Chapter 1: This chapter is an overview of the themes developed in the rest of the letter:
- encouragement during trial
- the need for wisdom
- the necessity of faith
- the treatment of the rich and the poor
- the call to put faith into action
- the need for a controlled tongue
1: 2 my brethren: Nineteen times James addresses his readers as spiritual brothers. (CCC 1655 “The Church is nothing other then ‘the family of God.'”) various trials: a reminder that these trials are part of God’s plan to make our faith stronger, help us prove our faithfulness, and bring us closer to perfection. Let us rejoice in them.
1:5 wisdom: not human ingenuity but the heavenly gift that gives us a right understanding of life in relation to God. If we ask for wisdom with sincere faith, God will give it to us abundantly.
1: 8 double-minded: literally “having two souls.” If I am “double-minded” I am holding myself back from complete trust in God. I waver between conviction and doubt. Not a good thing because I will pray less fervently because I will doubt that the answers to my prayers are certain.
1: 1-8 While going through this study, take note of how you have typically dealt with adversity and temptation. Have you met some trials with a “hope for the best” attitude? We will learn in this lesson, that trials are meant for something and temptations can be met head on. Resignation is passive. “Whatever will be will be” is not what God expects from us. He wants us to persevere to triumph.
Parallels to the Sermon on the Mount: (1) Perfect: James 1:4 (2) How the Father gives: James 1: 5 (3) How to pray: James 1: 5-8
Next time: What is the Catholic teaching on Redemptive Suffering?
( If you would like to share some of the answers to the following questions, please feel very free to do so. I will share one of my answers tomorrow in the comments.)
- Based on your observations, how does society deal with trials and temptations?
- When faced with difficult situations, who or what do you turn to first?
- When it comes to trials, what areas do we seem to be most vulnerable in? Why?
- In dealing with trials, what is the area that you need to improve on most?
- Reread the Memory Verse. Do you know of somebody in your life who “let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing?” What is it about them that impresses you? Have you ever persevered steadfastly through a difficulty and “come out the other side” to peace?