James Chapter 1
“16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and 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 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.”
When I first read these words it seems simple enough and very straight forward. The basic idea that every aspect of Earth and our galaxy as well as our daily blessings are all given to us by our Father in Heaven is a pretty simple idea to understand, yet there is more to this story. Everything that we receive that is good is given to us by God. That is a straight forward idea, but look at verse 18:
“Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.”
God has handpicked his people so that they can be the first fruits of his creatures. In order to better understand this, we need to understand what the first fruits are. This idea comes from the Old Testament, where the family income would be divided. God commanded his people to give 10% of the income, or stock, back to God through the church as a way of showing faithfulness. Those who give the 10% to the church would be blessed by God, which could be argued that those are the “good gifts” that are mentioned in verse 16.
Going back to verse 18, since God sets his people apart from all of his other creatures, we are being devoted to God as the “10%”, which is meant to be an example of God’s graciousness and glory to the rest of the world.
James chapter 1:26
“26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.”
Along with the verse 18, I also looked deeper into verse 26. I thought intentionally about the idea of bridling your own tongue. Now, to most who read this verse may believe that this verse refers to foul language and rude humor and I do believe this to be true, yet I also believe that there could be more to the verse. At the end of the verse it says that we should bridle our tongue so that we don’t deceive our own hearts.
As I thought about that, I began to realize that before you bridle your tongue to keep from offending those around you, you have to think about how you are talking to yourself throughout the day and how that internal conversation could actually deceive our hearts.
This means that we need to stop filling our own hearts and minds with lies from the enemy and begin filling our hearts and minds with truths from God’s word. By doing this, we will be able to build ourselves up with truth instead of tearing ourselves down with lies.
When we can finally control our tongues with the way we speak to ourselves, then we can dedicate more time to building up our friends and family in truth. As we move from speaking God’s truth to ourselves to demonstrating it and speaking it to others; that is when we begin to discover the “good gifts” that is spoken about in verses 16-18. It is then that world will be able to see our first fruits and that we can truly point them to the Glory of God!
James chapter 2:
“10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.”
At first reading this chapter 2 section of verses 8-13 is very basic and unassuming. Yet, there is still a deeper look that we can take to these verses. The verses 10 and 11 are a part of a section that demonstrates the need to fulfill the entire law of God.
While in our personal lives we easily find loopholes for every section, the Word of God tends to discourage partiality, especially when it comes to the holiness of God’s word. At the surface of these two verses James shares the importance of not only knowing the entirety of God’s word, but applying the entire Bible to our lives. Due to the fact that God is the same “Yesterday, today and forever” that means that God’s intentions for His people remain intact regardless of our preference.
What does this mean for God’s people today? Well, it begins with the understanding that the entire Bible is God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) and that means that all of the scriptures within the Bible are on the same playing field of importance. In other words, in the eyes of God all of the promises, commands and parables within the texts are held to the same standard. This shows that God does not have a hierarchy of which commandments or the most important for us to obey. We need to realize that they are all equal; therefore they should all be obeyed with the same intention on our parts.
We cannot pick and choose which commands that we will fully follow and still be considered believers and followers in Jesus Christ. For those of us who play favorites with God’s word, the outcome is still the same as a sinner who breaks all of God’s commandments.
James Chapter 2:21-22
“21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;”
“You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” Verse 24
When you think of faith, I would imagine that most people think of just a belief system that assures them that everything is going to work out fine. Most people probably prefer to leave the idea of faith as just a warm fuzzy feeling of accepting a situation. Most don’t want to imagine faith as a thing that requires them to take action on their faith.
In God’s eyes this is not the case. It seems that God requires us to move past the idea of merely believing in something and actually move into us put our faith into actions. This is especially true when it comes to God’s word and fulfilling God’s will.
The truth is, it is easy to believe in God or to believe in a specific mission, but it is an entirely different thing when you believe in God enough to put real-life action to your faith. We as believers are called to be doers of the Word of God, which is actually a reiteration of verses 22-25 of James chapter 1.
The belief of faith and the doing of action are married in the eyes of God and it is a marriage that we cannot separate or divorce due to the fact that faith without works is dead and works without faith is also dead. Therefore if we try to live our lives with the fullness of one and not the fullness of the other, we are not living to our pure potential. It is through the perfect marriage of faith and works that the world will see the ultimate display of the glory of God and the world will change for the better through the actions of Jesus!
When Jesus came to the earth, he declared that he came fulfill the law. Therefore we, who actually cannot fulfill the law in its entirety, don’t have to. Jesus lived the perfect life that we couldn’t so that his holiness, or perfection, can be accredited to us when we put our truth, or faith, in Him. Jesus willing died a death that he did not deserve as a way of suffering himself to his Heavenly Father for our sins, or our disobedience to God’s laws. It is through Jesus that we are able to fulfill the entire law of God. It is because of Jesus that we are able to display our faith to the world through our actions. It is because of Jesus that we are adopted into this Holy people even though we do have sin that separates us from God and God’s holiness. Finally Jesus resurrected on his own authority, which offers a new life to all those that believe in him and walk out the faith that they believe in.
Anthony K. Giesick
Actions are taken everyday that help make this world better and I just want to share them with you.