Daily Thought for: 29th November


James 1. 5-8

It was Martin Luther who once famously described the book of James as ‘an Epistle of Straw’! He saw in it no substance as far as the gospel was concerned, and felt that it gave credence to a doctrine of salvation by works. It is a pity that the great reformer did not heed the invitation and the promise given in verse 5 before presuming to pass judgement on this intensely practical and important epistle, which is relevant to Christians of every age.

When James wrote, he had primarily in mind Jewish believers, scattered, persecuted and perplexed. Why, they asked, were they suffering as a result of obeying the gospel? Where was the God in whom they trusted? When would it end? What should they do?

‘My brethren’, says James, the fact that you are passing through times of trial is in itself an evidence that God is working! It should even produce joy in your souls, v. 2, knowing that the hand of a sovereign God is upon you! But, more than this, be assured that the trial is just a means to an end; it is part of that process which, if borne patiently, develops spiritual maturity and ensures progress in the Christian pathway, v. 4.

But, says a bewildered believer, how do I know what to do? How to react? What to say? Listen, replies James, all the resources you could possibly require are at hand. If wisdom is needed, just ‘ask of God’; it’s as simple as that!

These verses are invaluable to the beleaguered soul. They remind us of the Lord’s words, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you’, Matt. 7. 7. We are also assured in verse 5 that His giving is not stinting and niggardly, but liberal and without reproof, followed by one of the lovely certainties of scripture, ‘it shall be given’.

There is, however, a condition attached, a word of caution. Those who ask, must ‘ask in faith, nothing wavering’, v. 6. The Lord expects us to trust Him fully. Not to pursue our own agenda, and then ask Him for wisdom when things go awry! That is the instability of ‘a double mind’, v. 8; and be assured, warns James, that man shall receive nothing, v. 7.


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