Posted by: Hugh Griffiths | July 3, 2006

Letter of James – lifechanging words

Ready for our church’s journey through the book of James, I have been reading and meditating on the chapters of this powerful letter.

Two things struck me immediately:

  • James is so intensely practical, it almost hurts to take on the attitudes and behaviour he describes
  • He is also extremely radical, showing that Christlikeness is pursued, not in spite of, but through life’s difficulty and challenge

As I consider his instructions about living the Christian lifestyle, I find myself asking whether the strength and depth of our discipleship teaching is substantial enough to deal confidently with tougher aspects of life.

For example, frequently James is quoted or preached in connection with gaining a better understanding of faith. Yet often, the ‘testing of your faith (that) develops perseverence‘ (James 1:4) is not so commonly taught.

James has some amazing insights here in this verse, not least that “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”.  Through all that we may experience in terms of testing and trials, the object is our completeness and wholeness in Christ. God is able to take the most difficult of circumstances, equip us to be able to face them with joy and then, through our faith and perseverence, bring us to the point of maturity.

This is one of the reasons why James is so important – life is not just about ‘what happens to us’ but ‘what happens to us when what happens to us’. Whether our circumstances require us to ‘submit to God’ or to ‘resist the devil’ (James 4:7), they become the tools that shape us into what God always intended.



  1. That’s really good, Hugh. And Lord Jesus never calls us to go through things alone. We never face difficulty having to submit to a God Who doesn’t have a clue about what we are going through. “He was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” And, “Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” And Acts 14:22 quotes Paul and Barnabas: “We must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.”

    Unfortunately, you are right: Many teachers fail to mention the “hardships” part…and that oversight makes the church weak in some areas. It also seems to me that hardships then become very disorienting – especially to new believers, who might start out believing that their Heavenly Father will shelter them from every hardship. He DOES take care of us – He DOES deliver us – but sometimes He allows things from which He must deliver us. Lord Jesus is God with Father and Holy Spirit…and if it was necessary for Lord Jesus to face things, while He was here…

    I am really thankful for our two elders (Tom and Dan) who teach us the FULL councel of God. We know that hardship is training. We know that difficulty is allowed by a loving Heavenly Father, to develop character. And we know that we have a God Who doesn’t just intervene at the right time, but He also understands what we are going through; and He is compassionate and merciful towards us, in the midst of it. (That doesn’t mean that we have to LIKE difficulty very much…) Hebrews 12:1-13.


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