To experience the exhilaration of true freedom, you and I will first need to learn and master restraint, self-control. True freedom is found—quixotically, counterintuitively—in full surrender to the sovereignty of God.
Both suffering and joy are experienced within the presence of God. Jesus set the example, noted in all the gospels as regularly taking time to be with the Father. All the apostles stood together in their teaching, urging believers to commune with God through all of life’s experiences.
I doubt James intended to imply that patient forbearance will restore fortunes.
Instead, the end of his letter points back to the beginning. Patient forbearance is the rich soil in which the implanted seed can bear fruit, producing an abundant harvest of godliness.
Submission, especially to the sovereignty of God, is something you and I often do not (at least initially) think we will like. And, you and I may also balk at the call to self-control. It seems like a battle of wills, does it not?
I have heard people complain about James’ epistle, claiming it is all about works, about legalism, about human effort seeking to attain godliness, about pressure to produce a holiness that in reality is only accomplished through the divine work of the Holy Spirit.
Have you ever bought a knock-off? It looks just like the real thing until it starts to unravel, or crack, or the zipper breaks. You may be kind of suspected that it was not the real deal, but . . . what a great price, right?
James letter was written possibly in the mid-to-late 50’s AD, more as a circular of wisdom and exhortation, to be passed from community to community, much like the letter written by the Jerusalem Council around 50 AD, recorded in Acts 15.
My passion for the Bible began when I was eight or nine years old, somewhere in there, when on occasion my dad would take me to synagogue, where he sang. I remember watching the men in synagogue pray the words of scripture, murmuring and weeping, lovingly touching and kissing the Torah, and I wished I could read what they were reading.
Imagine, then, my wonder when I was given a Bible of my own! Read more