1 Greetings from James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
To God’s people[a] who are scattered all over the world.
Faith and Wisdom
2 My brothers and sisters, you will have many kinds of trouble. But this gives you a reason to be very happy. 3 You know that when your faith is tested, you learn to be patient in suffering. 4 If you let that patience work in you, the end result will be good. You will be mature and complete. You will be all that God wants you to be.
5 Do any of you need wisdom? Ask God for it. He is generous and enjoys giving to everyone. So he will give you wisdom. 6 But when you ask God, you must believe. Don’t doubt him. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is blown up and down by the wind. 7-8 People like that are thinking two different things at the same time. They can never decide what to do. So they should not think they will receive anything from the Lord.
9 Believers who are poor should be glad that God considers them so important. 10 Believers who are rich should be glad when bad things happen that humble them. Their riches won’t keep them from disappearing as quickly as wildflowers. 11 As the sun rises and gets hotter, its heat dries up the plants, and the flowers fall off. The flowers that were so beautiful are now dead. That’s how it is with the rich. While they are still making plans for their business, they will die.
Temptation Does Not Come From God
12 Great blessings belong to those who are tempted and remain faithful! After they have proved their faith, God will give them the reward[b] of eternal life. God promised this to all people who love him. 13 Whenever you feel tempted to do something bad, you should not say, “God is tempting me.” Evil cannot tempt God, and God himself does not tempt anyone. 14 You are tempted by the evil things you want. Your own desire leads you away and traps you. 15 Your desire grows inside you until it results in sin. Then the sin grows bigger and bigger and finally ends in death.
16 My dear brothers and sisters, don’t be fooled about this. 17 Everything good comes from God. Every perfect gift is from him. These good gifts come down from the Father who made all the lights in the sky. But God never changes like the shadows from those lights. He is always the same. 18 God decided to give us life through the true message he sent to us. He wanted us to be the most important of all that he created.
Listening and Obeying
19 My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. 20 Anger does not help you live the way God wants. 21 So get rid of everything evil in your lives—every kind of wrong you do. Be humble and accept God’s teaching that is planted in your hearts. This teaching can save you.
22 Do what God’s teaching says; don’t just listen and do nothing. When you only sit and listen, you are fooling yourselves. 23 Hearing God’s teaching and doing nothing is like looking at your face in the mirror 24 and doing nothing about what you saw. You go away and immediately forget how bad you looked. 25 But when you look into God’s perfect law that sets people free, pay attention to it. If you do what it says, you will have God’s blessing. Never just listen to his teaching and forget what you heard.
The True Way to Worship God
26 You might think you are a very religious person. But if your tongue is out of control, you are fooling yourself. Your careless talk makes your offerings to God worthless. 27 The worship that God wants is this: caring for orphans or widows who need help and keeping yourself free from the world’s evil influence. This is the kind of worship that God accepts as pure and good.
- James 1:1 God’s people Literally, “the twelve tribes.” Believers in Christ are like the tribes of Israel, God’s chosen people in the Old Testament.
- James 1:12 reward Literally, “wreath,” a ring of leaves or branches that was placed on the head of the winners of athletic contests to honor them. It was a symbol of victory and reward.