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From James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
To the twelve tribes who are scattered outside the land of Israel.
My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy.
After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing.
But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.
Whoever asks shouldn’t hesitate. They should ask in faith, without doubting. Whoever doubts is like the surf of the sea, tossed and turned by the wind.
People like that should never imagine that they will receive anything from the Lord.
They are double-minded, unstable in all their ways.
Brothers and sisters who are poor should find satisfaction in their high status.
Those who are wealthy should find satisfaction in their low status, because they will die off like wildflowers.
The sun rises with its scorching heat and dries up the grass so that its flowers fall and its beauty is lost. Just like that, in the midst of their daily lives, the wealthy will waste away.
Those who stand firm during testing are blessed. They are tried and true. They will receive the life God has promised to those who love him as their reward.
Our cravings versus God’s gifts
No one who is tested should say,
God is tempting me!
This is because God is not tempted by any form of evil, nor does he tempt anyone.
Everyone is tempted by their own cravings; they are lured away and enticed by them.
Once those cravings conceive, they give birth to sin; and when sin grows up, it gives birth to death.
Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.
Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all.
He chose to give us birth by his true word, and here is the result: we are like the first crop from the harvest of everything he created.
Welcoming and doing the word
Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry.
This is because an angry person doesn’t produce God’s righteousness.
Therefore, with humility, set aside all moral filth and the growth of wickedness, and welcome the word planted deep inside you—the very word that is able to save you.
You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves.
Those who hear but don’t do the word are like those who look at their faces in a mirror.
They look at themselves, walk away, and immediately forget what they were like.
But there are those who study the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continue to do it. They don’t listen and then forget, but they put it into practice in their lives. They will be blessed in whatever they do.
If those who claim devotion to God don’t control what they say, they mislead themselves. Their devotion is worthless.
True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us.
Don’t show favoritism
My brothers and sisters, when you show favoritism you deny the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been resurrected in glory.
Imagine two people coming into your meeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags.
Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying,
Here’s an excellent place. Sit here.
But to the poor person you say,
Stand over there
Here, sit at my feet.
Wouldn’t you have shown favoritism among yourselves and become evil-minded judges?
My dear brothers and sisters, listen! Hasn’t God chosen those who are poor by worldly standards to be rich in terms of faith? Hasn’t God chosen the poor as heirs of the kingdom he has promised to those who love him?
But you have dishonored the poor. Don’t the wealthy make life difficult for you? Aren’t they the ones who drag you into court?
Aren’t they the ones who insult the good name spoken over you at your baptism?
You do well when you really fulfill the royal law found in scripture,
Love your neighbor as yourself.
But when you show favoritism, you are committing a sin, and by that same law you are exposed as a lawbreaker.
Anyone who tries to keep all of the Law but fails at one point is guilty of failing to keep all of it.
The one who said,
Don’t commit adultery
, also said,
Don’t commit murder
So if you don’t commit adultery but do commit murder, you are a lawbreaker.
In every way, then, speak and act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom.
There will be no mercy in judgment for anyone who hasn’t shown mercy. Mercy overrules judgment.
My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it?
Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat.
What if one of you said,
Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!
? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs?
In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity.
Someone might claim,
You have faith and I have action.
But how can I see your faith apart from your actions? Instead, I’ll show you my faith by putting it into practice in faithful action.
It’s good that you believe that God is one. Ha! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble with fear.
Are you so slow? Do you need to be shown that faith without actions has no value at all?
What about Abraham, our father? Wasn’t he shown to be righteous through his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
See, his faith was at work along with his actions. In fact, his faith was made complete by his faithful actions.
So the scripture was fulfilled that says,
Abraham believed God, and God regarded him as righteous
What is more, Abraham was called God’s friend.
So you see that a person is shown to be righteous through faithful actions and not through faith alone.
In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute shown to be righteous when she received the messengers as her guests and then sent them on by another road?
As the lifeless body is dead, so faith without actions is dead.
Exod 20:13, 15 LXX (English: 20:13-14); Deut 5:17–18